The challenges of implementing unified communications

Unified Communications is the way forward. There’s no denying it – UC has been around for long enough to really show its benefits over the fragmented and disparate approach businesses have taken to their comms in the past. However, that’s not to say that UC, and particularly getting it up and running in the first place, presents its own unique set of challenges. This article will explore some of the more common problems and misconceptions businesses come up against when planning and executing a digital transformation and Unified Communications strategy.

Isn’t it going to be expensive to pay you for all of our communications services?

In a word, no.

Oh, you want more words? Ok.

Think about it this way. You’re paying separate businesses for your phones, internet, messaging, file-sharing and video calling. You’re paying for 5 companies to keep their lights on, pay their staff and pay infrastructure costs. With a Unified Communications platform, all of those services (and more!) come from one provider, so you’d only be paying to keep the lights on in one office. Doesn’t that sound better?

That’s before you even consider costs like call charges. UC utilises VoIP, making calls orders of magnitude cheaper than traditional PSTN or ISDN calls. UC will also save you a lot of cash if you have remote workers or road warriors working for you. Since it’s Cloud-based it can be accessed over the internet, so your remote users can install a UC client on their smartphones. This client essentially acts as a deskphone in their pocket; calls can be made out of the company system, making use of your cheap VoIP call rates, and inbound calls to a user’s direct dial will be directed to their mobiles. This saves our clients enormous sums of money – the cost of call forwarding and mobile calls quickly adds up.

To sum up, while it is true that your monthly services bill for a Unified Communications platform could be higher than for your current phone system, it most certainly will not be higher than for the combined rental costs of all the separate systems UC platforms consolidate.

I’m worried that I won’t have the same level of control over my cloud UC service as I do over the server in my office. Won’t it be harder to add new users or make setup changes?

This is a perfectly understandable concern. UC servers are usually hosted in the cloud, whereas your phone system has always been in the office. So surely it stands to reason you’ll have more control over the server that’s in the same building as you?

Any readers who have tried playing around with or re-configuring an old analogue phone system will already have spotted the flaw in this logic. Analogue telephony kit is very complicated.

As far as adding new users go, our experience of analogue systems hasn’t been great. In many cases, costly engineer visits can be required even to plug a new phone in for a new user.

Compare this with the process you’d go through to get a new user set up with a phone on our UC platform.

1.     You’ve just hired someone new – great! Give your account manager a quick call to add a new user license to your system and order a handset.

2.     The handset turns up the next day, pre-configured.

3.     Plug in the handset at your new user’s desk.

That’s it. It can take as little as 24 hours to get a new user up and running with a new phone, and that’s just because it takes that long for the phone to arrive. It would be even quicker if you used a UC client – you could have your new user connected to your phone system from their own smartphone in a matter of minutes.

There’s a lot more we could say here – the self-service web portal makes routing changes a doddle, analytics and reporting modules give visibility of performance, etc. etc., but really there’s no need. The benefits in operational agility UC brings over older analogue counterparts are enormous.

Replacing my legacy infrastructure is going to be expensive and cause disruption. Can’t we keep using our existing network?

Look, we won’t lie, replacing infrastructure isn’t cheap. You’re probably right; ripping out all your cables and starting again from scratch will likely cause at least some level of disruption to your staff.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to. We can install Unified Communications servers on your site that give all the same benefits as their Cloud-based equivalents, but also support analogue phone networks. If you’re really attached to your old analogue handsets you can still get all the benefits of UC on your desktop machines running alongside your handsets.

Alternatively, this is a great intermediate step if you want to split up the cost of an infrastructure upgrade. Ordinarily you’d have to upgrade your legacy network first before you could get any benefits from new technology, meaning a much more significant investment is required to get the best out of your new kit. Our UC platform can be installed on-site on day one to get the great new features to your staff. Your network can then be upgraded when it suits you to allow you to roll out new handsets with all the advantages they bring.

All this new technology sounds wonderful, but won’t I need a degree in Computer Science to understand it? I’m not very technical and don’t have the time to learn anything complex.

If you can browse a website, you’ll almost certainly be able to configure your Unified Communications system. Our platform is all configured through one simple and easy-to-use web dashboard.

That being said, we understand that not everyone is confident with technology, and the prospect of setting up and configuring a whole phone system can be quite daunting. Don’t worry, though – we pride ourselves on our aftersales care, and do everything we can to make sure you’re happy with your system and how to use it. Before we install anything, we will produce a bespoke migration plan, unique to your circumstances, that will explain in plain English the process we will go through from start to finish.

We’re of course happy to provide training to anyone who will be using the system, and if there’s anything at all you’re not sure about, the Support team are always happy to take your call. We are not in the business of leaving our customers high and dry – unlike some telecoms companies we are with you every step of the way.

If you’re still concerned, give us a call! We’d love to give you a demonstration of the system and what it can do. We promise you won’t be disappointed.