Open unified communications and collaboration platforms can enable companies to evolve their legacy patchwork deployments.
Over the past few years, there has been a revolution in communications, especially within a personal context. Today, instead of calling someone on the phone, we can send them an instant message or interact on social media. Mobility and apps make communication faster and easier than ever before. While consumers may take all of this for granted, enterprises have often struggled to adopt these technologies because they are "locked" into their legacy infrastructure.
Most large enterprises still have extensive on-premises PBX deployments – coupled with technology add-ons from other vendors. This patchwork of independent silos is costly and inefficient since each silo typically contains features that overlap, which results in enterprises paying for the same functionality multiple times. This approach also creates an inflexible architecture that does not adapt quickly to changing user expectations. Because employees are unable to communicate the way they would prefer, they simply go ahead and use the services and devices they want outside of the organization’s official IT organization, resulting in shadow IT.
Unfortunately, an enterprise cannot just rip and replace their existing infrastructure due to cost and the need to maintain business processes. CIOs need to find a path to transition from legacy to new. They need to do this over a shorter period of time and within their current budget, since they will not get additional funds just to clean up the infrastructure. The good news is that this is possible, but it requires a different way of thinking about the evolution of their network. With some UC platforms, the costs are partitioned, which means you can buy what you need, when you need it while leveraging some of the legacy equipment that you would rather not replace (think desk phones).
Evolving UC infrastructure
The ultimate goal for any enterprise should not just be to replace existing infrastructure with something cheaper or cloud-based, but rather to transform their communications and collaboration infrastructure to provide more business focus and agility.
Companies need a platform that allows them to customize communications to specific department requirements, where and when needed, and that allows them to maximize efficiency by eliminating multiple technology silos. The platform also should be structured to take advantage of application programming interfaces (APIs) and software developer kits (SDKs) to adopt new features, applications and services as they emerge.
Enterprises have widely varying needs, and a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for everyone. Invariably there is some function that is critical to your business that mega-bundles do not provide, forcing you to integrate a third-party solution or make do with what you're offered.
Companies can customize an open UC platform to address the needs of specific departments. For example, your sales organization can benefit by embedding the enterprise’s communications capabilities into the Salesforce.com portal. This type of integration makes salespeople more effective by making it easier for them to call customers using their mobile while automatically recording that information in SalesForce.com.
Eliminating silos for UC efficiency
Large enterprises have often grown through M&A activities, with each company typically bringing their own communications infrastructure into the relationship. Usually these distinct technologies do not fit together particularly well, leading to highly complex and expensive stacks. Enterprises need a single communications infrastructure that can collapse the many communication and collaboration tools, and deploy that capability across the entire company using a single, standardized approach.
If a cloud-based communications platform is truly open and multi-vendor, it can support third-party devices using a single, common communications back-end. Using this kind of approach, you can integrate your communication domains, but continue to use your existing devices. This removes the cost of maintaining multiple tools and helps maximize efficiency and reduces training costs for employees by employing a standardized methodology.
Continuous adoption of new technologies
Enterprises need the ability to rapidly incorporate the newest communication technologies into their services for customers or productivity apps for employees.
The APIs and SDKs in a truly open cloud-based communications platform enable you to leverage the infrastructure across communication applications, making it easy for enterprises to pick and choose the applications they want to employ – and easily integrate the third-party application into the enterprise environment.
This type of optimization for today’s rapid rate of technology change effectively allows enterprises to generate a strategic business advantage over their competitors.
Large enterprises can get more out of their communications investment by taking charge and focusing on their specific business needs, while optimizing for future technology change.