Getting unified on the UC concept

fAs an enterprise IT or network manager, you have probably either begun to implement a unified communications system across your company or are have discussed the concept in depth with executives.

With so many employees today utilizing a host of different communications devices and mechanisms, the demand to easily bring such interaction together and present it on a single interface is becoming overwhelming.

However, moving from a legacy environment to a relative communications Nirvana is a complex journey that usually involves a good deal of negotiation, reassurance and, above all else, conviction in one’s actions. T

he benefits of unified communications are plain to see. Increased operational efficiencies arise from users, especially those who spend much of their time outside of the office using mobile devices as their lifeline back to their office phone line. When voice mails, e-mails, data from internal portals and databases are all brought together into one interface, a great deal of time can conceivably be saved by not having to mess around with multiple devices. And it seems corporations are having no problem jumping on the bandwagon. According to recent research from Nemertes in the U.S., 79 of 100 enterprises interviewed were planning to deploy unified communications over the next two years.

The problem is that many users and their direct reports often aren’t aware of the glorious benefits UC can bring. In many instances, department managers and even their charges are quite comfortable with the familiar, even if it is causing them stress that they don’t recognize. And for those who do, the thought of moving everyone to yet another new tech platform and taking them away from their core responsibilities to train them is about as palatable as subjecting oneself to a Revenue Canada audit. And factor in that deployment of the newfangled apparatus is going to cost a nice little chunk of change from everyone’s budget, and it isn’t surprising that many a manager waves his hands and cries, “No thanks.”

One of the best ways to overcome these barriers is to undertake a gradual rollout of UC capabilities over an extended period of time. Often, the wading-into-the-pool approach offers much less of a shock that the cannonball-off-the-diving-board strategy. Audio and videoconferencing features, for instance, can perhaps wait for another day while the troops get used to instant messaging and voice mail offerings.

Other tactics that can ease the transition to UC is mapping out with your CIO an effective long-term plan for deploying the technology.

Clearly defined roadmaps are always a reassuring element for upper-level executives and corporate bean counters. Also, make sure that each decision maker who ultimately has the power to become a friend or foe on your march to UC deployment is clear on what your plan is and how you intend to get there.

After all, UC will start and end with effective communication.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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