Guide to Unified Communications

See the big picture of unified communications

Roll-out is more like a three-year plan

By John Fontana

Unified communications involves a series of technology decisions and this is where users will consider IM, presence and unified messaging options and the best methods for attacking rollouts and integration.

Mike Gotta, an analyst with the Burton Group, says a best practice is to think about these decisions not in terms of single projects but as part of a program, a program that could take up to three years to complete.

"Users have to get together the desktop team, the collaboration team, the [unified communications] teams, they have to get the compliance people involved, they have to work with the business units on decision rights, they have to determine how much of this is centralized, how much wiggle room the line-of-business units have, there will be touch points with wireless carriers, there are a lot of pieces, so the biggest thing is organization and governance," he says.

A study on unified communications by Osterman Research found that 45% of organizations reported that they anticipated some level of political difficulty if they migrated to unified communications, while another 7% expected 'lots of difficulty.' And all that comes before users even get a whiff of technology choices.

Gotta also points out that development tools need to be considered for creating original communications-enabled business applications or extensions to a vendor's platform.

Another key is to develop service-level agreements and determine hardware requirements for desktops that will turn from computing resources to communication devices akin to the telephone and mobile devices. And remember that messaging and telecom are distinct groups that manage separate systems so migration strategies should take both architecture and organizational factors into account.

The best of the best practice, however, is to slow down. So measure twice and spend once.

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