11.19.2008Personal Tech

Verizon Business Offers Tips to Building a Successful Unified Communications and Collaboration Plan

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) - the use of Internet protocol networks to integrate various systems, media, devices and applications - offers many benefits to businesses and government agencies.  UC&C can help streamline business processes, accelerate decision-making, enhance the customer experience and improve the bottom line. 

However, for many organizations the challenge of migrating to an enterprisewide UC&C approach can be daunting. 

Organizations need to address a range of issues including evaluating and measuring how UC&C will benefit their organizations; determining whether adequate in-house technical resources, personnel and network capacity are available; and integrating UC&C into everyday business processes and aligning its deployment with critical business initiatives.

Industry experts advise enterprises to select a global strategic provider that offers the right mix of professional-consulting-services expertise, broad Internet protocol (IP) capabilities and comprehensive business tools.  A global strategic provider should demonstrate a proven ability to understand complex business issues and processes to help organizations identify what needs to be changed to realize the full potential of UC&C and guide them along their UC&C path.

(NOTE:  An audio podcast explaining UC&C and how it can help enterprises enhance employee productivity and transform operations is available here.)

To further help organizations, Verizon Business offers the following tips: 

Invest in advanced IP networks.  UC&C starts with a capabilities-rich IP infrastructure.  Flexible and expansive IP networks serve as the foundation of a successful UC&C deployment.  Networks should be equipped to accommodate increased traffic loads and support a high-quality, consistent end-user experience.

Inventory technology and personnel resources.  Understand the scope of current technology deployments as it relates to UC&C to help identify potential network, equipment and application gaps.  Perform skills-based assessments of technical staff to identify possible new hires and individuals requiring additional training.

Align technology with business objectives.  Make purchasing decisions with a focus on meeting specific business goals.  Verify that vendor platforms meet an organization's unique technical and financial requirements.  Carefully evaluate network, hardware and software options to validate ability to meet current and future enterprise objectives.  Partner with a service provider that can integrate multiple technology platforms for best success. 

Establish a benchmark for success.  Know the ultimate objectives for a UC&C deployment.  Survey corporate end users to understand their needs and willingness to embrace change.  How is business conducted today and how can UC&C help empower employees and streamline business processes?   Understand end-user requirements and develop profiles covering key functional areas.  Determine current and future requirements and plan accordingly.

Create a comprehensive roadmap.  Planning is critical to the success of a UC&C deployment.  Develop a roadmap that's far reaching and covers areas such as technology and finances, as well as detailed deployment and implementation plans.  Develop a multi-phased plan, focusing on a single, key critical-business process or function that will benefit from UC&C.  A measured approach helps minimize disruptions and provides the opportunity to apply lessons learned on future initiatives.

Maximize impact of UC&C on business processes.  The integration of presence and automation capabilities inherent in UC&C offers a powerful opportunity to enhance enterprisewide business processes to help improve employee productivity and accelerate decision making.  In addition, UC&C can serve as the catalyst to enhance and streamline a wide range of activities, including the delivery of customer service, product development and human resources. 

Tackle security at the onset.  The design of a UC&C platform should integrate seamlessly with a business' current network and leverage existing technology investments.  A network should offer quality-of-service capabilities and sound security measures. Proper design and testing of a UC&C deployment helps ensure a smooth transition.

Determine capabilities for ongoing management.  The decision to self-manage versus out-task is critical.  Understand the complexities involved in day-to-day management of UC&C platforms. Determine whether in-house staff has the skills and time required to effectively manage and troubleshoot performance issues.  Select a managed services provider with the people, tools and processes to help provide consistent performance of UC&C applications.

Develop support systems and processes.  Due to the real-time nature of UC&C applications, corporate help-desk staff must be prepared to address end-user performance issues and questions.  Development of automated processes to support password resets and other day-to-day maintenance activities can help reduce demands on help-desk personnel and improve response times and end-user satisfaction.

Train and educate end users.  This is not a case of "deploy it and they will come."  Corporate end-users should be educated about new UC&C tools and capabilities. Develop online training modules to help users adopt and embrace these new tools so they can work more efficiently and productively.  

Measure and modify.  Build success milestones into the UC&C plan.  Employ a combination of industry best practices and internal benchmarking to identify realistic performance-measurement objectives.  Go beyond reliability and availability measurements to assess the impact of UC&C from a financial, customer service, business process and end-user satisfaction perspective.

"Employing UC&C requires both a technological and cultural shift," said Kerry Bailey, vice president of global services for Verizon Business.  "Verizon Business offers the right combination of network, services, tools and people to help enterprises address growing business requirements for teleworking, eco-responsibility initiatives and business process re-engineering.  Verizon Business can help unleash the power of UC&C by offering the framework and consulting expertise to guide enterprises as they develop comprehensive strategies to unlock the potential of advanced IP-enabled collaboration."

Verizon Business delivers a standardized set of more than 50 professional-service capabilities in 30 countries around the globe.  The services are delivered through 2,700 specially trained and experienced consultants that specialize in five key areas: contact center services, IT services, IP communications, network integration and engineering services, and security services. 

Verizon Business professional-services consultants can help enterprises create a flexible UC&C framework, while providing specific recommendations for deploying of a UC&C solution.  Enterprises can tap into the company's comprehensive portfolio of advanced collaboration, conferencing, mobility, voice-over-IP (VoIP), contact center, and managed and hosted services, which leverage the company's global IP network as the foundation.

About Verizon Business
Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), operates the world's most connected public IP network and uses its industry-leading global-network capabilities to offer large-business and government customers an unmatched combination of security, reliability and speed.  The company integrates advanced IP communications and information technology (IT) products and services to deliver leading enterprise solutions including managed services, security, mobility, collaboration and professional services.  These solutions power innovation and enable the company's customers to do business better. For more information, visit www.verizonbusiness.com.