A “UA” for “UC”: A Unified Approach for Unified Communications

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Photo of various company stakeholders meeting in UC strategy session.

Ironically, often one of the biggest challenges to developing a unified communications (UC) strategy is getting everyone on the same page. But communication—and a unified approach (UA) to developing a UC plan—is exactly what organizations need to develop and deploy a successful UC strategy. It requires stakeholders to step out of their silos and step into the process—with buy-in from the C-suite, diligent oversight by the CIO and collaboration among the various teams involved, such as IT, telecom, operations, and vendors.

Okay, easier said than done, but who can argue the tangible and intangible benefits of a solid unified communications plan? Top-notch UC strategies can offer streamlined information delivery, greater collaboration facilitation, increased employee productivity, enhanced business processes and improved customer service. The right UC solution can consolidate systems to lower costs, free up capital and increase the bottom line. In the InformationWeek 2013 Unified Communications Survey, of the companies deploying UC that also conducted post-installation ROI audits, 82% either met or exceeded their estimates. And yet, the same survey reveals only 38% of businesses surveyed have actually deployed UC. Of that smaller segment, 36% have rolled out UC to more than 50% of their users, but 31% have deployed UC to less than 10% or fewer. The survey also reveals that another 30% plan to deploy UC within two years.

Are you planning a UC transition? Consider these recommendations as you develop and deploy your own strategy:

  • Create your “Team UC”. Establish a cross-functional team, representing the various disciplines and interests of all stakeholders, to more easily navigate the development process.
  • Time for a reality check. Realistically assess your current environment to identify any roadblocks—such as process gaps or inadequate tools. Ask yourself (and your team!) “What are our pain points and could UC resolve them?”  Develop a vision for how your UC enabled organization will ideally function and perform.
  • Make your wishlist: Evaluate all the communications technologies, tools and solutions UC encompasses—including voice, instant messaging, text, email, presence, unified messaging, productivity tools, collaboration tools, video, conferencing and mobility.
  • Know your UC’s: Evaluate premises-based versus hosted UC solutions and which option will best serve your business needs. Premise-based solutions can offer a rich features-set and in many cases industry-specific software solutions that add business value. Hosted UC solutions, such as Windstream’s IP Simple or UcaaS Solutions, offer a fee-for-service model, eliminating significant upfront capital expenditures, while providing maintenance, administration and operations.
  • Get out the map: Implementing a UC solution is a multi-phase process. TechTarget suggests a “build-a-little-test-a-little” rollout strategy to scale your implementation, test applications, avoid disruptions, encourage feedback and if necessary, make adjustments and modifications. It just works best if you map it all out, so you know what’s ahead.
  • Remember the ROI: Evaluate ROI (“soft dollar” and “hard dollar”) to project and justify the true business value of a UC strategy—run a post-deployment audit to validate your initial results.

No one said it’d be easy—UC is complex. But with an organized, strategic approach and a reliable, experienced UC solutions provider, it doesn’t have to be difficult either.

That’s where Windstream can help—with a full range of UC platforms and deployment solutions, premises and cloud-based—and the smart solutions and personalized service from a team of experts who can guide you. 

For additional insight, read “Top Factors to Consider When Selecting a UC Vendor”, and talk to a Windstream advisor to learn how we can help get everyone in your organization on the same UC page.