‘As-a-service’ and the cloud have brought liberation to businesses the world over.
This statement might sound dramatic, but consider the pressures IT departments are now under. Many are being asked to support a more flexible workforce that could be anywhere, while simultaneously improving operations and often with a reduction in spending.
As a result, organisations are on the lookout for any opportunity that both reduces expenditure and supports the company’s commitment to improving collaboration.
Overall, this changing buyer behaviour is transforming our industry. It is affecting how Unified Communications (UC) solutions are designed, delivered and supported. Many organisations are rethinking how legacy architecture is deployed and adopting more flexible ‘as-a-service’ applications that maximise the return on investment.
We want it now
It is fairly safe to say that few businesses are still sceptical as to whether Unified Communications improves collaboration, boosts productivity or enhances customer service. The countless use-cases available prove these benefits, however now more than ever advances in technology, deployment methods and service wraps are demonstrating what tangible financial outcomes are possible.
This is because of numerous factors:
- Better public internet connectivity which enables true workforce mobility
- Solution providers focusing on service assurance
- The growing acceptance of multi-vendor ecosystems
- Maturing managed services and ‘as-a-service’ solutions
- Flexible subscriptions and a shift to OPEX models
That said, even though these developments are improving the reliability and scalability of UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) applications and platforms, businesses should always tread carefully. Two important elements need addressing first.
- The Network
The network essentially defines what makes a successful UCaaS deployment and what doesn’t. For example can the network support and sustain performance, especially with bandwidth-hungry applications being used across the network all of the time?
The network requires thorough testing across the business – from the boardroom, huddle spaces and the corner office furthest away from a WiFi access point to flexible remote workers who connect from other networks outside of the main corporate network.
The other factor to consider is security.
CISOs are scrambling to adjust to new ways of accessing applications and services from the cloud, and this means designing more stringent security practices. Educating employees in security best practice is fundamental, but companies should also consider how managed security service providers can help monitor the network and corporate data.
After all, if data sets a company apart from its competitors, resources must be accessible at all times. More than anything it must be kept confidential, particularly with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in less than a year.
Be a Planner, Not a Flapper
This may sound daunting, though networking and security challenges can be solved through good planning. Adopting UCaaS, like any technology in a company, requires a holistic assessment of the entire business. This process involves analysing the company’s culture, the people who will be making use of solutions, existing processes, workflows and other technology platforms and services.
Every business is diverse and what constitutes a unified communications strategy for one organisation is very different for another.
Consideration must be given to which solutions would benefit from the ‘as-a-service’ approach, and whether migration to a new model is best done in stages. Setting goals will help companies to focus not just on how they already collaborate, but on how they want to collaborate in the future, and how this underpins business objectives. A comprehensive collaboration strategy is essential to ensure users fully realise all the benefits available and solutions lead to the ROI and business outcomes every company is clamouring for.
Guest Blog by Graham Fry, Managing Director, avsnet.