Avoiding UC Failure
Unified Communications solutions are powerful potential change agents and generators of financial returns for organizations. UCStrategies has advocated their use and value, however, there are often factors that cause UC deployments to fail, or at least significantly impact their effectiveness. A number of these factors relate to the overall structure of UC. By its very nature, UC has extended the sophistication and operational complexity of the traditional PBX significantly, even by orders of magnitude. Where the PBX was typically a single vendor platform that only managed desktop phones and phone number with a single platform structure and physical TDM trunks, today's UC solutions are generally multi-vendor, support multiple communications modalities and a range of devices, and provide significant new capabilities and functions. The result is that organizations applying traditional operational strategies often see key issues emerge that are indicators that the UC solution may be failing in delivering the intended overall impact. Some of the indicators are:
Staff overload - Staffs sized to traditional PBX operations are often overloaded by the range of configuration requirements of a UC platform. Where a user change in the past may have required few entries on a single platform, in a UC environment, whether with a single or multi-vendor environment, a change often requires touching multiple platforms with different interfaces and structures. A change that took 10 minutes may now take an hour to perform. The result is staff overload, evidenced by slow work order completions, excessive overtime and even staff resignations and departures.
Cost escalation - During the UC planning stage, UC is often seen as a linear extension of the existing PBX. After the installation, the issues of increasing operational complexity and increased activity result in increased cost. In a recent Nemertes survey, the average operational costs for UC systems was approaching 50% of the total cost of the solution, which is dramatically higher than the typical 20% of traditional PBXes. The result is often seen as increases in services, contractors and consultants, and overtime to perform the operational tasks required.
Outages due to configuration errors - The explosion of configuration parameters and complexity, combined with the diversity of interfaces and vendors is creating an increase in configuration errors. In fact, at a recent event, Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research quoted a report that 30% of outages in UC systems are due to operator error. With an exponential increase in configuration parameters with each configuration change, the resulting errors impact the system operation and acceptance.
Time to utilization - A key barrier to achieving the financial benefits of UC is the actual adoption and use of the system. While training and lighthouse adopters are critical, issues of getting configurations right and users set up to use the system are often a major impediment. As adoption factors are monitored, understanding the impact of operational delivery on adoption is critical.
Fear of upgrading - As many UC vendor systems are rapidly increasing their product features and capabilities, upgrades often come with significant configuration changes to accommodate new features. The installation of an upgrade can be a major burden if the operational team has to physically configure hundreds or thousands of configuration parameters to accommodate the upgrade. The result is often skipping key upgrades and missing out on the functionality of the upgrade.
For organizations that have deployed UC solutions and continue to use tradition labor-intensive configuration methods, any (or all) of these indicators demonstrate that there are issues in the deployment. The answer is to implement a Business Communication Operations Management (BCOM) solution to automate the configuration and change process based on the range of lifecycle events of the system. BCOM automates and optimizes the configurations and operations of these systems based on business processes and user centric needs, resulting in reduced costs and increased adoption. UCStrategies has identified three vendors that are leading the delivery of BCOM into the UC marketplace today: Kurmi Software, VOSS Solutions and Unimax Systems Corporation. These companies have firsthand knowledge of the impact of the BCOM category on a wide range of organizations managing the new capabilities and sophistication of UC.
UCStrategies recommends that organizations that have already deployed UC solutions, are in the process of deploying UC or considering a UC deployment, evaluate BCOM as a key element in ensuring the success of the solution. The capabilities that the BCOM vendors provide are critical to deploying and operating today's increasingly sophisticated, multi-vendor, UC solutions. You can read more about BCOM here. UCStrategies is sponsoring a webinar on how to avoid UC failure through BCOM on October 14th at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. Register for the webinar here.