Migrating Gracefully to UC in 2014 - One Step At A Time
I think everyone recognizes that the future of business communications is becoming more mobile, multi-modal, IP based, and integrated with business process applications. The major challenges for every organization, large or small, for starting to move forward towards that future are many, but there are two basic planning steps always required. Step 1, understanding how and where the benefits of using the new communications technology will best apply to the various operational needs and priorities of the individual business. Step 2, planning a minimally disruptive and cost effective migration from their current communication technologies. There are also other steps involved, e.g., secure access for BYOD devices, managing and maintaining UC-enabled apps, training end users to use converged communication facilities effectively, etc., but those will be other steps.
Step 1 is important because it lays the groundwork for justifying the move to new communications technology, identifying different end user needs, and will also affect planning for changes to current business process applications (CEBP). Because UC has become more complex and most organizations don't have internal expertise with the new technologies, it has become most practical to utilize objective professional consultants, familiar with particular vertical market needs, to help define requirements for Step 1.
However, Step 2 must also be started in synch after Step 1. This may be done on a priority basis, for specific business processes and all involved types of end users. With flexibility of Internet connectivity and mobile devices, the old requirements of location-based technologies and CPE don't really apply. This allows for a more graceful migration implementation based on specific business processes and the specific end users that will be involved with those customized applications.
What is Needed for Step 2
The change to IP digital communications will basically impact how the legacy wired, premised-based, PSTN-connected telephony system will be subsumed by wired and wireless cloud-based Internet connectivity services, and how Communications Enabled Business Process applications will replace person-to-person contact activities. Such change will obviously be an evolutionary one, so most organizations will face the old syndrome of "one foot on land (CPE, PSTN) and the other in the canoe (cloud services, WebRTC)." So, it will be important to use technology that is flexible enough to connect the old with new.
While I usually like to focus on what the end users will need and want from communication user interfaces, there is no question that infrastructure and connectivity that end users don't see, are equally important for implementation planning. Patton Electronics is a well-established technology provider, particularly in Europe, but less well known in the U.S., that is focused on providing the technology to connect all the "old" with all the "new" business communications technologies required by both organizations and communication service providers that must migrate to the UC future. As every organization starts their migration towards IP Telephony as part of UC enablement, they will need the kind of connectivity flexibility that Patton's SmartNode platform, cloud services, and integration services with Microsoft Lync and IBM Sametime can offer.
At this point in Step 2, traditional VARs, SIs, and Channel Partners, perhaps referred by the Consultants that helped do Step 1, can be called upon to do the heavy lifting integrations for connectivity and UC interoperability. This is where the flexibility experience of Patton's connectivity offerings can come into play to make things work more easily and quickly for getting to the next steps of implementation.