Using Managed Services to Choose the Right Unified Communications and Collaboration Path

Today we are fortunate to have Elizabeth Klingseisen who is contributing another blog on the topic of UC adoption through managed services.

Are you asking yourself where you should start your unified communications and collaboration (UCC) project? Should it be the voice platform, the desktop or the presence application?

Expertise in converged communications across traditionally siloed telecom and IT management is difficult to rapidly and economically acquire and maintain, particularly if it includes multi-vendor best-of-breed solutions. In addition, UCC integration requires complex and subtle re-engineering of tasks to manage workflows and presence into business processes. This asks for a complex consultative and design skill set that is not typically available in-house.

We believe that because every UCC implementation is unique, a services-led approach including integration services, technical services, consulting, hosted services and managed services can help you choose the right path. Let’s examine in more detail why this approach works.

  1. 1.       Building your enterprise UCC vision

UCC is a technology that will transform not only your workplace but also your core business strategies and how you approach, service and manage your customers. It’s critical you establish up front your UCC vision by answering the following questions: what is your business purpose for implementing UCC, what will you achieve and what must you do now? It is important to work cooperatively with a vendor who can provide consultative professional services that will enable you to build and realize that vision, day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month.  

  1. 2.       Keeping integration simple

When it comes time to integrate business applications, redesign workflows, manage separate directories and establish processes—in addition to the pure integration capabilities—enterprises need to prepare their end users for change so they are able to take advantage of the new functionality. A key advantage to a services approach is tapping into vendors’ technology integration and business process expertise along with their consulting advice.

Layering on top a “day two” managed service solution offers a simple, easy to implement deployment, guaranteeing a more competent execution and functional day-to-day operations. Vendors who offer strong consulting and professional services capabilities in conjunction with their managed services are in the best position to help their customers adjust their processes to work efficiently with their managed UC services.

  1. 3.       Bridging the IT transition 

Unified communications can be a powerful tool when integrated with business processes such as CRM and ERP. However, this level of integration requires specific expertise and significant contributions from both IT and communications staff—which is where many companies encounter roadblocks.

Traditionally, organizations manage their voice and data networks separately and have limited cross-functional experience. This puts a strain on resources and significantly reduces efficiencies when transitioning into a UCC environment. IT staff may become overwhelmed with the increased IT activity along with juggling the demands of replacing or upgrading infrastructure components. A vendor with professional and managed service capabilities can stem the risks and save costs by managing the complete implementation and operations process. 

  1. 4.       Managing multi-vendor solutions

There are numerous rewards in adopting a best-of-breed UC architecture. As a consequence, UCC implementations will nearly always require integration between two or more vendors’ UCC component point products. Multi-vendor capability—particularly the ability to ‘bridge’ multiple technology platforms—demands a provider who is adept at understanding voice, data, applications and security issues.

What about in-house UC deployments? After all, who knows your applications and business processes better? While it seems like a sensible approach, in reality in-house deployments almost always lead to an overworked IT department and projects that run over-time and budget. 

In contrast, a managed services deployment can provide a comprehensive UC architecture specifically designed to gain a more cost-effective and predictable solution. Take the guesswork, strain and stress out of managing a UC integration in-house by working with a managed services provider who can supply a fully trained and certified staff to handle complex, multi-vendor UC integrations from execution to follow-up and support.

  1. 5.       Operating at full capacity on “day two”

Managed services are a vital link to help organizations achieve a lower cost of ownership and predictable monthly costs, but they can also help eliminate transition issues by leveraging their operational expertise and accessing the skilled resources required for harnessing the demands of an evolving communications world.  

When looking to maximize your company’s investment in IT and communications infrastructure, a managed services approach is an excellent opportunity to advance capabilities and future-proof existing investments. The UCC entry-point becomes a non-issue once you gain a partner that can reduce inefficiencies; integrate diverse, multi-vendor systems; and migrate technology upgrades across dispersed users. 

Elizabeth Klingseisen is director, managed services marketing for Siemens Enterprise Communications.

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