Who should your unified communications provider be?

* How do you plan to implement unified communications?

Unified communications involves bringing together the worlds of electronic communication (e-mail, instant messaging, Web conferencing, etc.) and voice plus related technologies. The advantages of doing this are several, including increased user productivity, lower costs, improved manageability, more efficient use of IT staff because of the consolidation of voice into the data center, etc. But where do you start?

Should you add a) voice functionality to your e-mail and real-time communication infrastructure, essentially adding voice to the primary application with which users communicate on a daily basis? Or b) should you add electronic communication functionality to your telephony infrastructure, adding e-mail to the most reliable application that your users employ? Or c) should you scrap everything and go with a solution that combines e-mail, voice, instant messaging, directory services and other capabilities in a single platform. Or d) should you just leave things as they are and operate separate electronic communication and telephony infrastructures?

The decision is an important one and one that you will have to make at some point. Plus, you will then have to decide if you want to host it all yourself on-premise, use a hosted or managed provider to do it for you, or employ some combination of the two.

With regard to the four choices above, d) should be crossed off your list. Unified communications can provide both hard and soft cost savings. For example, Nortel cites research that shows that managing all communications in a single inbox can save employees 43 minutes per day compared to managing communications in separate silos. While the savings from unified communications are likely to vary widely based on a number of factors, it’s pretty clear that unified communications will save users time.

What it all boils down to, somewhat simplistically, is this: do you start with e-mail and integrate your PBX, or do you start with your PBX and integrate e-mail? I’d like to get your thoughts on this – please drop me an e-mail.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022