Dr Devasia Kurian, CEO, *astTECS
The unified communication (UC) solution is creating a synergic ecosystem, integrating new and wide variety of communication through multiple end-points, while helping organizations deliver superior customer experiences and see strong return on investments. The growing need of sharing content among organizations is driving the UC market globally and technology vendors are finding new markets (across all verticals) for UC products. According to industry reports; cloud, mobile application and integration, video collaboration, and social media will become integral elements in the enterprise IT infrastructure. The key contributors to UC and collaboration market are: SMBs, BFSI, government, education, retail, e-commerce, and utilities.
The unified world, where the PBX, voicemail, email, laptops etc. co-exist on the same LAN infrastructure, brings with it certain possibility of misuse, intrusion, and attacks. Organizations should map out their investment in robust security and data protection systems, as an integrating platform opens wide range of ports, which creates a security risk. There are multiple ways to enhance security, some of them include: access protection, secure access, password protection, blocking of ISD calls on PRIs at the premises, to name a few.
The key challenges that need to be addressed are the interoperability among products and multivendor solutions and it must also ensure that their offerings can work together with applications created by third-party developers. Second, is the quality of service (QoS), since the network handles multiple collaborations and application platforms and third is the maintenance/support, security, and protection against malicious attacks.
While selecting a UC system, it is important that few key elements are kept at the forefront that includes: evaluating a model that organization requires: on-premise, cloud-based, or a hybrid solution. The UC solution meets low-cost requirements and makes it easier to accomplish business tasks and finally select partners and vendors who will assist them in the long run, mainly during expansion and upgrades.
It is important that businesses evaluate their specific needs and contrast it with the benefits. Typically, on-premise UC offers high level of flexibility and customization. It also brings down the cost associated with ownership, since the investment is one time. This solution may work well with larger organizations. Advantages of cloud-based solution and unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) are mainly, the ease of use and low capital expenditures as businesses do not have to manage hardware and system upgrades, most ideal of small and medium enterprises, and works well if enterprises have distributed workforce.
UC offers tremendous capabilities, since the integration of communication systems increases collaboration, employee productivity, and client engagement. Along with voice, video conferencing across all key verticals is witnessing accelerated adoption. The benefits of UC are more compelling in case of small and medium businesses as it allows them to effectively use a collaboration system that can deliver competitive advantage without a huge outlay of capital. However, along with these exciting benefits, a significant amount of focus is imperative to ensure network performance, security, scalability, and QoS.
The Way Forward
The engagement model, customized solutions, and innovative offerings will become critical success factors and customers will be aligning with strategic vendors who can offer solutions built around their requirement, as there is a greater demand of collaboration and need to integrate different devices with enterprise IT applications. Embracing UC effectively requires a clear strategy to bridge existing systems. Organizations should look for a long-term communications approach to realize the full potential of UC, so that they can scale-up uninterrupted, address the demands of future requirements, and select a provider that offers full-service, has a robust support system in place, and offers steady cost savings that can be realized quickly.