5 reasons IT should choose a hosted UC solution

The IT benefits of a hosted unified communications suite are far different than the business advantages, but are equally important.

Last week, I posted a blog that highlighted the top business reasons a company should consider a hosted UC solution. While these are important, there are also a number of benefits that are specific to the IT department. These reasons may fly under the radar of the C-level executives or line-of-business managers, but they are significant to the IT organizations.

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ZK Research shows that, on average, 83% of IT budgets are used to "keep the lights on," meaning only 17% of the budget is used for strategic initiatives. How can an IT department get more money for strategic projects? Ask for a bigger budget? That’s a nice thought, but it would be like asking AT&T to provide good customer service. You can ask, but it’s never going to happen.

The easier way to increase the amount of money dedicated to strategic initiatives is to shrink that 83% by using products and services that improve the operational efficiency of IT, and that’s what a hosted UC solution can do. Here are the top reasons why:

  • Centralized management and administration. Premise-based solutions are inherently difficult to manage. Simple tasks, such as setting up new users, making changes to user profiles, updating features and applying patches can be very difficult because they need to be done by a local administrator and/or require similar tasks to be repeated numerous times across multiple systems. The repetitive nature of these tasks significantly increases the chance of human error or misconfiguration. With a hosted solution, all administrative and management tasks are centralized, so the administrator can perform tasks once and have the confidence that management updates and other tasks will be done swiftly and accurately. Centralized management and administration can save companies hundreds of hours over the traditional distributed model.
  • Rapid expansion of services to remote locations. The workforce of today is highly distributed. ZK Research estimates that over 75% of workers today reside in locations other than the corporate headquarters. This includes telecommuters, road warriors and branch office workers. In addition, more organizations are collaborating with partners and customers outside the traditional corporate walls. A hosted solution can reach any individual anywhere and provides a consistent user experience. Organizations with a hosted UC solution have the ability to deploy collaborative applications immediately, even to workers outside the corporate walls.
  • Enablement of BYOD. The use of consumer devices in the workplace is now the norm. Just a few years ago, users carried corporate-issued devices that IT had tight control over. User experience was manageable because all users had a similar set of devices and applications. The world today is significantly different. A user may have a laptop, two smartphones, a tablet and a netbook. Making these effective as collaboration tools is a difficult challenge for IT departments. The only effective method of being able to support an increasingly consumerized enterprise is to push the UC applications in the cloud via a hosted service. A hosted solution enables companies to deliver any UC function to any device over any network, and then lets the user switch devices on the fly.
  • Efficient use of budget. A hosted solution provides many budgetary benefits over premise-based solutions, including:
  1. Lower barrier to entry. Since there is virtually no upfront capital to outlay for a hosted solution, organizations can get started with a UC deployment immediately.
  2. Budget planning. The use of a hosted solution allows a company to plan its budget more accurately than with a CPE-based solution since the subscription model provides spend that is predictable and easy to calculate.
  3. Efficient use of IT staffing. Shifting the infrastructure to the cloud means IT can offload many repetitive and time-consuming maintenance tasks. This means IT can focus on more strategic initiatives instead of the day to day. 
  • Application diversity. A hosted UC solution provides great application diversity since any application can be made immediately available to any user at any time. Also, since patching and feature upgrades are done in the cloud, all users have access to the same features all the time. Lastly, a hosted UC service provides the most flexible access to UC applications, while maintaining a consistent level of secure access. 

Organizations often focus on the business benefits of technology solutions and rightly so since those benefits help create competitive advantage. However, if the technology deployment makes the IT department’s job more difficult, some of the benefits the organization was hoping to gain are negated. A hosted UC service has advantages that benefit both the company at large but also the IT organization. Understanding this can help justify the shift to a hosted service and lets IT deliver the solution as promised, and on time.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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