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Gone are the days that communications are simply defined by voice, or by email -- Empowering organizations to be more efficient and productive with presence, instant messaging, audio, web, video conferencing, group and social collaboration saves money. 

The right UC solution will deliver enhanced profitability and business impact with cost savings. 

According to Gartner, the unified communications market will grow from $40.9 billion in 2014 to $42.4 billion by 2019, fueled by demand for cloud-based services as organizations digitalize their business workflows. 


Unified Communications are transforming the way that work gets done.  Business owners are diving into the requirements of their organization to determine whether an on premise or cloud-based solution aligns best with a company’s overall short and long-term goals.  

We have composed a system for navigating through the UC requirements and criteria for your business beginning with establishing your organizational UC goals, assessing your technical preparedness, evaluating deployment options, and quantifying the financial impact of your options.   


If you are trying to assess your system’s and workplace readiness for a Unified Communication solution, there are a number of variables for you to consider.  Establishing goals for what you want the solution to accomplish for your company will help you navigate these issues effectively.  UC solution goals are focused around employee impact, IT resource impact, technology change adoption rate and hard dollar return on investment.  Establishing specific, measurable, and realistic goals with a defined time frame are critical to evaluating if, when, and how to deploy a UC solution.    

Optimism must remain in check with close attention paid to time frame and adoption.   Build buffer into all phase of your UC journey to account for the many delays you will encounter.  Take into consideration the level of technology change that you are evaluating for your employees when forecasting adoption percentages and timespans.  Also, be laser focused with the applications and do not use a broad brush to forecast adoption across all employees.    

A company with a 1500 person workforce selects a hosted UC provider to move their team to the cloud.  The implementation process includes a staged roll-out across the company rather than moving the entire company over to the UC solution at the same time.  Rolling out a solution for this size company would start with the key technical team and those in-house who support the bulk of the workforce.  The next group would include Executives and Management, with the final group being the heavy users.  This process enables IT teams and end-users to most effectively adopt the new technology. 


ADOPTION RATE BY UC APPLICATION –  Deployment criteria identified with adoption begin with a thoughtful strategy to help eliminate adoption obstacles.  Primary tools of communication should be adopted first, whether it be phone, email, or chat, followed by audio, web and video conferencing.  Customer integrations such as contact center, CRM and call recording should be included in the final phase. 

PRODUCTIVITY – Impact on workforce efficiency is tied to Adoption of new UC application by teams and departments.  The measurable will include increased communication and collaboration between teams and departments. 

IMPACT ON IT RESOURCES – A hosted provider will manage implementation, training, maintenance and support services with the guidance of IT teams.   IT teams will be restructured as they move from software maintenance and troubleshooting  issues to providing services that are geared toward company goals.   

FINANCIAL MODEL & ROI – Estimates on productivity impact and IT resources with purchase/lease SaaS spend versus the current spend will provide quantifiable estimates which will establish an increase in revenue with a decrease in operational costs. 


Once you have created your UC goals, defined how you will use the solution, and examined the IT resource changes, the next step is a deeper exploration into your technical preparedness.  Successful deployment of a UC solution depends on careful evaluation of your technical preparedness.  Is your network ready for the applications your plan to deploy?  Regardless of the phases of deployment of applications, take a holistic approach to network evaluation.  Is your wired and wireless LAN ready to support the applications?  Are your laptops and tablets configured best for running UC applications over Wi-Fi?  How will data be traveling between offices, accessing data center applications, reaching cloud based services?    The infrastructure must be capable of delivering sufficient data and prioritizing data with the recognition that data consumption per user may significantly increase with the deployment of video calls and application sharing.     

How you will use the solution and will your  IT infrastructure need a refresh to support a new solution? Before you embark on finding an appropriate UC solution, determine your core business and infrastructure needs. A driven focus on enhancing the productivity of individuals by implementing new UC capabilities will deliver a comprehensive business process optimization goal.  However, you need to ensure the foundation is solid before building the UC applications on top.    

Certain UC vendors are equipped to handle network assessments to various degrees.  At a minimum, there are low cost network assessment tools that you can run which help determine whether your network is prepared to support IP telephony and other real-time UC applications.   

  • Complexity. This covers questions such as how many users you are supporting, number of locations, domestic only versus international and whether functions like instant messaging will be separately deployed or integrated with IP telephony and other core functions.  Another key component is are you upgrading existing equipment, considering a hybrid solution, or full replacement of system(s) in place today.    
  • Scalability. Once your system is up and running, how much do you expect it to grow?  What regions do you expect the highest level of growth and by when?  How quickly do you need to scale up and do you ever need to scale down?  Answers to these questions will begin to narrow down your solution focus.  
  • Architecture. These issues will govern how effectively your network’s components can be integrated and configured, and whether you will be starting fresh or integrating an existing system.  
  • Security and Compliance. Both on premise and hosted cloud UC models provide advanced security options.   Consider the current and future security and compliance requirements.  This may involve speaking with other business units to look into the future to see if new industries are being considered by sales such as state or federal government or new service offerings being considered that would require a higher level of security and additional compliance certifications.   
  • Device, mobility and emerging consumer platform support.  Consumer technology does not stand still, so your UC solution needs the ability to quickly embrace new devices and operating systems no matter what the future holds.    


While the CAPEX costs are much higher for on premise systems, knowing that business infrastructure resides and is managed in-house may strategically align with company goals.  However, the key drivers for on premise are not typically financially driven.  Environments that require a high-level of customization and integration with internal, proprietary systems are often a better fit for on premise.   For the purpose of this document, we are lumping on premise at a office location with on premise at a data center.  Perhaps a better way to describe is customer owned and operated systems.  Another drive for on premise is security and compliance.  Highly regulated industries may require specific security measures that are only available with a customer owned and operated system.    

There are a multitude of drivers for a hosted/cloud solution. CAPEX savings is a highly publicized advantage of a hosted solution that is sold on a license or subscription basis.  The host provides and maintains all hardware and software required for the UC solution and charges the customer a per license monthly fee.  As with on premise, the key drivers for hosted are not typically financially related either.  The requirement for a capital expense for an upgrade to an on premise system may be a motivating factor for evaluating cloud, it should not be the reason to deploy a cloud solution.  The assessment of your current environment, technical capabilities, level of scalability, and level of redundancy are several factors to consider.  A cloud environment brings many benefits that allow you to achieve unprecedented business performance across the board if deployed for the proper reasons.   


To quantify a unified communications solution it must add value and strategic differentiation to your business.  The Microsoft case study below reviews decreased costs with improved business outcomes that are often identified when considering UC. 

An organization should see an immediate reduction in telecommunications spend and increased workforce efficiency with the adoption of a UC solution.   

The life expectancy of technology is rapidly changing and the benefits of owning communications technologies versus subscribing to a solution are swinging toward subscription cloud-based model.  A hosted solution enables a company to leverage ever changing technology, from anywhere at anytime, without the hassle of providing internal updates or troubleshooting IT issues.   Hosted models often empower business with streamlined communication and collaboration while saving cost.  


As we wrap up the requirements phase of moving to the unified communications cloud we seek decision-making criteria. 

Ready to move through the excursion into the decision phase? 

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