Despite the hype, many global businesses haven’t adopted unified communications because of complexities of managing different communication platforms. The break-neck speed of innovation means that today’s technologies will be incompatible with tomorrow’s solutions. So what should companies do?
Let’s be honest, unifying communications is one of the toughest jobs out there. The dream is to offer a single platform for voice, audio, web, video and messaging across all devices, in all locations. Staff should be able to talk to each other no matter what platform or hardware they use.
It’s a simple objective. Yet for many chief information officers (CIOs) it is mission impossible. So what goes wrong?
The difficulties are rooted in history. Year after year companies buy what they need when they need it. They acquire handsets and PBXs (private branch exchanges), video and web-conferencing systems, and messaging software. With each new round of procurement, the mix of technologies gets a bit more complicated. Integrating the latest acquisitions with the legacy systems becomes a full-time job.
Companies try and solve this by sticking with just one vendor. In theory, that vendor should sell interoperable equipment. A sure-fire way to guarantee unified communications? If only. Vendors innovate and suddenly a new generation of kit is released which doesn’t quite mesh with the old stuff. Or there is vendor acquisition and the line is discontinued. Sometimes the enterprise wants a new vendor, who naturally promises to solve all these problems. In truth, the single-vendor strategy is proven not to work.
Unified-Communications-as-a-Service slashes capital expenditure, freeing up money for core activities such as research and development or sales drives
The complexity of communications gets worse as companies grow. A merger can bring in a raft of incompatible systems. The communications situation is rarely considered during mergers and acquisitions – it’s just something the CIO needs to handle without grumbling.
Global expansion can mean entering a market where current vendors don’t operate. There may be competing standards. Welcome to an entirely new communications set-up. The CIO will have fun integrating those new technologies with his legacy infrastructure.
Sitting still isn’t an option. Staff want the latest collaboration tools and with good reason. The quality, security and reliability of communications increases all the time. Workers want to be connected with the best tools on the market.
As for the international angle, will a firm abandon an export drive because of a communications issue? It is not realistic.
So what’s the answer? The first step is to cut down on annual rounds of capital expenditure. Blowing a fortune on hardware and licences which depreciate is counter-productive. Instead move to the subscription model, known as Unified-Communications-as-a-Service or UCaaS. This slashes capital expenditure, freeing up money for core activities such as research and development or sales drives. The UCaaS model means an end to overprovisioning. You only pay for what you use, so the era of expensive PBXs sitting idle is over.
The second step is to steer clear of vendor lock-in and platform lock-in. Embracing one solution to the exclusion of all others is a dead-end. No vendor can provide all UC tools. And no platform will stay at the cutting edge forever.
Your enterprise needs the latest communications technologies no matter who provides them. This requires a vendor-independent and platform-independent partner. This partner will guarantee you always use the best devices and services on the market. And only a truly independent partner can offer unbiased advice and help you transition to UCaaS at your own pace while managing risk.
Third, find a partner who has global reach. Even startups must consider the likelihood that they will want to expand overseas at some point. A partner limited to just one region can’t help with those ambitions. When you globe trot, your unified communications strategy will unravel. So pick a partner with an established presence across continents.
Naturally this partner will have solutions to achieve the goal of true unified communications. Staff should be able to collaborate via audio, video or messaging, across devices and platforms, with a uniform interface.
Tata Communications is built to meet all these needs. It is a vendor-independent, platform-independent partner, supplying UCaaS to enterprises of all sizes, globally.
With Tata Communications you can get the most out of your legacy systems. If one office runs Cisco Telepresence and another has WebEx or Lync, no problem. Tata Communications’ platform makes them interoperable. If a staff member wants to join video chat using their mobile or tablet, that is straightforward. Skype for Business with enterprise voice ensures the problem of expensive PBX hardware is a non-issue.
Worried about fragmentation when moving abroad? Tata Communications is one of the very few truly global partners. Almost a quarter of the world’s internet routes travel over the company’s network which enables enterprises to reach 99.7 per cent of the world’s GDP, with connectivity to more than 240 countries and territories. This 710,000km fibre network enables truly global unified communications. It also connects four out of the world’s five mobile subscribers and carries 53 billion minutes of wholesale voice traffic annually.
More than 300 of Fortune 500 companies use Tata Communications’ state-of-the-art cloud, mobility, network services. Through Tata Communications’ pioneering IZO cloud enablement platform, enterprises are able to connect to the giant clouds of Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce.com, who account for almost 50 per cent of cloud computing.
Tata Communications’ systems integrate with 1,600 partners, 785 mobile operators and 700 VoIP (voice over internet protocol) operators. The company is the 2014 Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific data communications service provider of the year and, for the second year in a row, a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for global network service providers.
By partnering with a vendor-independent, platform-independent unified communications specialist, the entire communications challenge melts away. With Tata Communications’ UCaaS offering, companies get a simple monthly price per user and a single service level agreement (SLA), which is a genuine benefit for CIOs accustomed to juggling dozens of SLAs from service providers across multiple territories.
Staff will be free to travel from zone to zone using a standard interface for communication on any platform of their choosing. This will erode territorial silos and cliques. All divisions and geographies of a company can collaborate with no barriers to hold them back.
“Unified communications is a journey, and building a global UC strategy across multiple platforms and legacy systems is complex”, says Anthony Bartolo, president – enterprise mobility and collaboration, Tata Communications. “If you become tied to a platform or a vendor, it limits your ability to move fast on that journey. We are an independent partner, offering help to our customers as they grow across the globe. No matter what technologies emerge, we can make sure you leverage your existing assets to execute on a globally consistent and vendor-independent UC strategy that successfully survives the future.”
Staff demand unified communications. With the right approach, CIOs can give it to them pain free – no matter what challenges the future throws up.