The battle plan IT warriors use to combat complexity

Experts from Avaya, Panasonic and Mitel join Allstream for a candid conversation on the challenges technology professionals face

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As soon as you step inside the entrance of Archeo, a restaurant in Toronto’s Distillery District, there’s a large sign that explains the origins of its name. “Archeologia Industriale,” or industrial archeology, is a way of studying how an industry has evolved and its impact on the culture by looking at remnant pieces. Unfortunately, IT professionals can’t afford to wait that long to figure things out.

In fact, Allstream’s IT Warriors event on Tuesday was entirely focused on the fact that current business requirements for technology are becoming so complex that it’s starting to seem impossible to find the right IT products and services to meet them.

“By the time you’re about to implement something, the business needs have moved over to something else,” said Larry Ekiert, responsible for UC Portfolio Marketing at Allstream.  Perhaps as a result, he added, “There’s been product underinvestment across our shores. It’s part of our psyche. Canadians are reticent to take risks, we want to have proof points, to confirm that it’s good technology. The downside to that is, in so doing, you no longer have a competitive advantage.”

Ekiert suggested IT professionals are “warriors” because they are fending off several challenges at once. These include a demand for increased organizational productivity, strain on corporate networks, financial pressure and complexity across applications, infrastructure  and processes. In a panel discussion, Allstream and executives from partners Avaya, Panasonic and Mitel all offered their ideas for some of the strategies IT warriors could use to contend with those challenges.

archeoEntering Archeo in the Distillery District for the IT warrior event.

Investigate (and be honest) about your network readiness: While Canadian companies could gain major benefits from things like SIP trunking and unified communications, you can’t side-step the up-front assessment to see where the pitfalls might be, said Brian Cox, senior director of enterprise solutions, Panasonic.

“Customers always say their network is the latest and greatest,” he said. “We recently did a deployment where the customers had plaques on the wall for network certifications.” Once the project began, however, the team discovered intregration issues with CAT 5 cables connected to CAT 3 cables, a mess that could have been mitigated.

archeo 2The IT crowd mingling and enjoying the refreshing cocktails and delicious appetizers.

Change the UX, not the UI: SIP trunking and UC mean organizations can have vastly improved user experiences (UX), but it shouldn’t come at the expense of user interfaces (UI) they know and love, suggested Malcolm Concannon, national channel manager at Mitel.

“It’s about making sure that a UI is simple and easy to adopt. In fact, don’t change the UI,” he said. “This gets critically important once you start looking outside walls. For UC, one of the biggest areas of value is teleworking. It’s really critical if you’re going to allow someone to work from home that it’s really easy to do it, without the need for infrastructure that people can’t maintain.”

vendorsReps from Avaya, Panasonic and Mitel giving demo’s and chatting with the IT crowd. 

Invest for unexpected use cases:  Andrew Corder, senior sales engineering manager at Avaya, has learned the hard way that there’s no point in calling a teenager. “Would they answer the phone?” he asked the crowd. Probably not, but they might respond to a text message. Too much of what IT warriors spend on is intended to deal with the way the company interacts internally or with customers today. However Corder suggested SIP trunking builds the foundation for new media streams such as instant messaging, video and more by embedding features that would traditionally have cost millions to deploy.

“Whatever you purchase moving forward, make sure it’s protected but that the money you save can be taken and you can re-invest it in applications that gives customers a better way to do business with you,” he said.

Take this advice. Otherwise, it doesn’t take an archeologist to tell you an IT warrior’s career might soon be history.

vendors 2Panelists from Avaya, Panasonic and Mitel discuss SIP Trunking and UC collaboration | Archeo patio looking fine in the sunshine | The crowd enjoys the beautiful loft style setting.

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