“UC is one of those terms very similar to telepresence — it could might anything and nothing, depending on who you talk to.”
If you read the above statement and fiercely shook your head in agreement, join the club.
For technology decision makers within financial services, oil & gas, and other large organizations, getting a handle on the benefits of unified communications (UC) and cloud-based technologies currently out there may feel exceedingly complicated. This is especially true when considering these tools with an eye on the hosted cloud.
When Bill Haskins, Senior Analyst, Unified Communications, Wainhouse Research broke down the definition of UC as a Service (UCaaS) at the Channel Partners Conference in Vegas this past spring, it was designed to clear the air when it comes to the value of the collaborative technology.
A few takeaways from Haskin’s YouTube video presentation:
It starts with a standard client.
When looking at an UCaaS solution, determine what the existing IT infrastructure looks like and go from there. Consider the communication modalities: What’s the core component? How large a role does instant messaging (IM), audio and video — the ability to share content — currently play in the organization? What are the different types of contacts and communications that you are going to unify?
Says Haskins: “You have to have a ‘magnet’ in order to unify communications. This is your centerpoint. There are lots of other devices that can come with this, but there has to be a starting point.”
Conferencing: It’s no longer about 1:1 anymore
The ability to pull multiple people into a collaboration event across these modalities is the key benefit of UCaaS, notes Haskins. And while the hard ROI is the key driver for certain organizations, the true voice/data convergence benefit is around productivity: enabling workers to better collaborate internally along with customers and clients.
“The sweet spot, really, is about the productivity conversation,” he says, adding that while it’s much harder to quantify, the ability to communicate based on someone’s availability — removing the Ping-Pong match of voicemail — can have clear tangible benefits.
“We’re talking about fluid communications. There’s a whole bunch of cool stuff once you establish this experience. You can take applications and embed it into workflows, enabling the business workflow process. It’s the application driven experience.”
UCaaS involves using a trusted third party service provider for more effective deployment.
“From (Wainhouse’s) standpoint, it’s really cut and dry: for something to be UC as a Service…it has to be hosted in someone else’s data centre. You are trusting and gaining access to an external datacenter, not on premise,” says Haskins.
In looking at an outsourced option, there are different ways of secure and reliable access, including private MPLS or hosted over the Internet via a public connection. This includes identifying and reviewing blended and hybrid— federated and integrated — UCaaS models as well.
From a vendor-agnostic, user-focused standpoint, the goal here, offers Haskins, is having an expert service provider who is putting these “bits” into their cloud under their control and are providing them in a hosted model.
“What we’re talking about is a new way to communicate, an application-driven way to communicate that should allow your workforce to gain productivity savings by making it easier to communicate. It’s a very simple premise – but a little bit more complicated to implement.”
More must-see video about UCaaS: Watch the on-demand Webinar Introducing Allstream’s Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS).
Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN at FreeDigitalPhotos.net