The 4 Unified Communications Questions Every Enterprise Should Ask

Updated: September 10, 2010

One definition of unified communications is a set of functionality that facilitates internal and external communication in business processes. The most common functions across unified communications platforms include:

  • Voicemail into e-mail
  • Call find/follow
  • Simultaneous ring
  • Application integration with dialing
  • Call recording

These are features that can be found in pure IP and in equipment based solutions, and offer the widest range of function to the widest range of enterprise.

With this as a base definition of Unified Communications, enterprises considering a technology change should ask these four questions to determine if UC is a smart move.

Will UC be a Good Cultural Fit?

For a UC implementation to be ultimately successful, the change it brings must be embraced by all levels of the enterprise. If functional staff don't like or don't want to use UC features, the likelihood of any form of measurable return is low and the potential for negative consequences are high. How many times have management looked back at some technology innovation and said "it was not worth the cost, people just didn't want to use it."

Will Unified Communications Benefit Our Business Processes?

A company that has 30+ years history with a key system, a receptionist and a fax machine and is happy with their experiences has no reason to change to bring unified communications into their business processes. But a similar company who has given their field sales force laptops and wifi cards has every reason to evolve into unified communications.

Likewise, an enterprise grounded in traditional business process whose main customer mandates EDI and video conferencing must evolve communication processes or lose business.

The question to ask is, will adding one or more of these functions to our telecommunications equipment benefit our business by saving costs, saving time or increasing return on investment? One example of how Unified Communications can produce tangible returns is in a call center/customer service environment. If customers or contacts can be dialed on-screen as opposed to on a handset, there is an approximate 15-30 second savings per call. Add this up per user per day and you can usually find close to an hour a day of extra time that can be used to increase call volume for more sales. If a solution cannot enable one of these three, then it most likely will not be a profitable fit for the enterprise.

What Other Technologies will be affected by a Move to Unified Communications?

Unified Communication technology often necessitates changes in other office technology to make it viable. For instance, a company that moves to SIP trunks will often need a higher speed internet connection, with which mandate a higher-capability firewall and higher-capacity switches.

Likewise, new telephone systems and other equipment have computer requirements that force updates, upgrades and new operating systems. Look at everything connected to implementing even a simple Unified Communications solution to make sure that that total investment does not create a long term negative investment.

How will Unified Communications Impact our Disaster Recovery Plans?

Just about every business has some form of disaster plan. Many businesses, especially financial and medical businesses, are mandated at many levels to have a solid, defensible disaster recovery plan including a means of maintaining contact with customers.

Yet an enterprise that consolidates voice and data services to capture savings with technologies such as SIP trunks and dynamic internet circuits could lose the redundancy they had with copper lines and lose the ability to maintain communication in an emergency. The best N+1 equipment solutions are worthless without uninterrupted power coverage of data modems, phone systems, switches and other network equipment.

Featured Research
  • [Infographic] 8 Common Pain Points UC Eliminates

    Every company has moments of frustration, it is when these moments become extended periods of inefficiency, or pain points, where we start to see loss in productivity and employee morale. What truly sets a successful business apart from those of its competitors, is how they take these pain points and use them as opportunities to improve upon procedures and systems to eliminate pain points and move beyond what was the status quo. more

  • Go VoIP and Go Green

    You may be looking to switch to VoIP because of the cost benefits that it will bring your company, but did you know that it is also FAR BETTER than traditional phone systems for the environment as well? With environmental impact being at the forefront of both consumer and business minds, it is essential that business decisions are made now based on economic AND ecological impact. more

  • eGuide: Comparing UC Vendors

    Changing your company’s business communications solution is an investment in time and money that will touch everyone in your organization. A successful unified communications (UC) deployment should streamline everyone’s work flow, simplify IT operations and deliver a lowered total cost of operations. Your company deserves nothing less. more

  • Getting More from Your VoIP System

    Too many businesses fall into the trap of setting up their VoIP as a "plug and play" and getting to work. However, we have found that this thinking only leads to businesses failing to get the most out of their VoIP experience. We have put together an in-depth guide that will walk you through 15 easy steps to get more out of your system. more

  • Making Your Phone System Work

    Deciding what to do about a legacy phone system can be difficult. The advantages of modern systems like VoIP are well-documented, but the switch can still be resource intensive. Updating your old system is usually the better decision, but circumstances often make this impossible. Fortunately, there are other ways to improve and tweak an existing system to enjoy better performance. more