So often when anybody talks about moving to unified communications, what they leave out are the words “soon,” or “someday,” or “maybe next year.” There seems to be a sense that UC isn’t quite ready yet, that it isn’t something they can convince executives to buy into now either conceptually…or with real money.
But even though some of the UC applications we all talk about are still a bit futuristic, I have to tell you that in many cases, UC solutions are ready now to solve problems, and there’s no good reason a company couldn’t be benefiting from them in 2009. Or maybe by Valentine’s Day at the latest, and that’s only if you want to get it onto the 2010 budget.
So, what products and solutions needed to implement UC are here and available? Well, we’ve talked about how Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco partner solutions are in place to move to a softphone architecture, migrating away from the traditional deskphone. While the UC world may not have yet evolved to that one-phone-number-for-everything goal, we can certainly get you down to two numbers That’s refreshing, in contrast to the four or five numbers for deskphone, softphone, business cellphone, personal cellphone, etc. that so many people have to juggle today. And how does it work? Well, we are 10,000 users and growing…so…so far, so good.
Mobile integration – mobility is really essential to any real UC solution – it is also ready now. Making wireless devices truly a part of the enterprise telephony solution, giving the IT Manager many of the features and functionality of a deskphone … with the advantages of corporate dialing plans and vastly improved enterprise control … is something that can be done starting tomorrow, if your company is willing to take the step.
Converging communications onto your IP VPN is another can-do-today possibility. If you have an IPVPN and aren’t optimizing it for the whole triad of voice, data, and Internet, you are wasting assets and potential. Or if you have an MPLS VPN but are still only using traditional PBX trunking for local and long-distance voice, that’s wasteful too. Not using a VPN at all? Well, you should be. The network and the infrastructure are there and ready to help your company begin or accelerate your migration to UC.
Someone asked me the other day what I thought UC would look like in five years, and I’m going to address that in my next post. But sometimes looking ahead can cause us to lose focus as far as what we are able to do today. So as of September 2009, you really shouldn’t wait when it comes to implementing UC solutions, because the products are real, the return on investment is there, and that doesn’t even count the increased productivity.