Transitioning to a Unified Communications System
Unified Communication (UC) systems are growing in popularity among small businesses. Wainhouse Research predicts UC will grow to a $5.3 billion dollar business by 2018. These systems work by putting e...
Unified Communication (UC) systems are growing in popularity among small businesses. Wainhouse Research predicts UC will grow to a $5.3 billion dollar business by 2018. These systems work by putting every communication system a business employs — from email to voice conferencing — into one platform. Additionally, these platforms are stored in the cloud, reducing costs and eliminating the need for expensive equipment.
Is your business considering a move to a unified communication system? Here are a few steps to ease the transition.
First, determine if your current software can be implemented into available UC systems. It is important to remember what works best for one department may not work for another. For universal success implementing a UC, think strategically. Interview department heads to learn:
● How do you communicate with your team?
● How do you communicate with customers?
● What communication task does your department need to change?
Knowing the answers to these questions will direct the type of UC system to implement. If most of your sales department works remotely, a cloud-based UC may be the best solution.
Know your users
If you move to a new system without considering how your employees work, you are setting your business up to fail. Employees want user-friendly systems that are easy to learn and transition into. Just as you interviewed management, speak to your employees and ask what they hope for in a communications system. If you employ a remote workforce they may request a cloud-based, mobile platform. Sales and support departments may require a dashboard to puts all the components in one place. Communicating with your employees will help you select a system that increases productivity and ROI.
Calculate the total cost of ownership
Knowing your budget will help determine exactly what type of system you can afford. Knowing your total cost of ownership (TCO) means you have considered both the direct and indirect costs associated with a service. These costs may be equipment, fees, and licenses.
Cloud-based UC systems cost less initially as the service provider hosts and maintains most, if not all, of the equipment. They also install software updates and security patches. Generally, these services are paid per-user through a monthly subscription and possibly a one-time setup fee. Cloud-based platforms are perfect for businesses who need unified communications but don’t have the ability or funds to host in-house servers.
Where cloud-based services may cost a few thousand dollars to set up and an additional subscription fee to maintain, an in-house system can cost upwards of $100,000 to purchase and install. This initial cost of servers and equipment is only the tip of the iceberg. The business must employ an in-house IT specialist to keep it operational and compliant. This may be the right choice for businesses with a large budget and IT department who want complete control over stored data.
With strategic planning, understanding how your users work, and determining a TCO, a successful implementation of a UC system is possible. Transitioning doesn’t need to be difficult. Follow these steps and begin receiving the benefits a UC system can offer your business!