Organizations rely on a wide variety of communication and collaboration tools, but many businesses struggle to realize the full potential of these platforms.
Our recent survey of IT Managers regarding unified communications found that while a majority of IT managers believe investments in unified communications (UC) tools pay for themselves in the form of increased productivity, plenty still struggle to seamlessly unite all of their communication platforms. For instance, while two-thirds of organizations allow employees to automatically forward calls to their mobile device, only half have the capability to automatically forward voicemails to email.
As businesses pursue greater productivity and communication capabilities (and employees demand them) in 2017 and beyond, it’s imperative that an organization’s UC tools work in harmony. This is where a cloud-first strategy comes in.
3 Tips for Adopting a Cloud-First Unified Communications Strategy
Traditional considerations, such as a vendor’s “ecosystem,” are less important than integration capabilities and overall product quality. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when planning your firm’s cloud UC strategy:
1. Thoughtfully Plan Communication Systems Migration Costs and Timing
It’s essential for organizations to understand the financial implications of migrating from on-premises systems to cloud-based UC solutions. But apart from vendor costs, businesses need to account for the price of internal migration efforts as well. In some cases, IT staff can split their time between maintaining legacy tools and assisting with a cloud migration. In other cases, the expense of a migration delay may justify bringing on additional (or third-party) resources.
Equally important to consider is migration timing. Rushed implementations do little to minimize expenses or ensure successful long-term adoption. Work with vendors to develop a methodical, phased timeline that works for IT and your end users.
2. Consider Unified Communications Vendor Capabilities
Every concern your IT department attended to with legacy communication tools applies equally to cloud-based offerings: service agreements, disaster recovery plans, security and quality controls and more must be evaluated before making a commitment.
A handful of UC providers also specialize in supporting certain market segments and business sizes; examining a vendor's current client roster can help you determine if they have the experience and resources to meet your firm's specific needs.
3. Don't Rule Out the Role of On-Premises Communication Equipment
Embracing a cloud-first UC strategy doesn’t mean completely eliminating on-site tools (no matter how eager IT is to decommission aging infrastructure.) Plenty of organizations operate hybrid cloud arrangements, integrating traditional communication tools with cloud-based UC solutions to provide a backup for critical operations in the event of an outage. If a hybrid cloud setup makes sense for your organization, make sure to discuss this with prospective vendors to ensure their technology is compatible with your existing environment.
Video: 5 Things to Look for in a Cloud Provider
In recent years, business leaders have prioritized breaking down functional silos between departments. With a truly integrated, cloud-centric UC approach, organizations can ensure their employees have the tools they need to collaborate seamlessly across teams, devices and locations without technical headaches.