Integrating enterprise communication tools -- from telephony to e-mail, conferencing and instant messaging -- is the key to delivering a richer collaboration environment that increases productivity. But deployment and management of unified communications systems can be daunting.
Research shows the average organization today supports more than six types of communications devices and more than four communications applications. It takes IT an average of three days to complete the provisioning and configuration of devices and applications for each new employee.
And the pain doesn't end with deployment. The ongoing management of the complex ecosystem of directory, e-mail, mobility, instant messaging, VoIP and other unified communications applications is time-consuming and expensive, often managed in silos rather than as a centralized solution.
As adoption of unified communications grows, so does the management, complexity and potential harm to the infrastructure, making it essential to find a way to streamline the management of these applications.
Centralizing administration is key, giving the enterprise the ability to provision and manage collaboration and communications applications through a single platform. By using the same tool to manage multiple environments, IT can improve productivity and attain the fastest ROI when deploying applications.
Automation is also crucial. As noted, getting a new employee online takes an organization an average of 72 hours (from the time human resources requests the provisioning to the final activation) and often requires multiple touch points to configure applications such as Outlook and smartphones. By automating the process, organizations can reduce the provisioning time to seconds. IT managers can decide to provision employees themselves or delegate the task to other groups, such as human resources or regional managers.
Automating the provisioning, deprovisioning and management of users, applications and devices enables organizations to significantly reduce errors, downtime and cost of administration, while greatly increasing productivity, security and control enforcement.
As each application is tied to a directory, many administrators end up having access to servers in order to make changes to user creation, deletion or any other IT task. The proliferation of unauthorized changes is the No. 1 reason for downtime, primarily due to misconfiguration of servers by inexperienced IT employees. Providing a "proxy" solution that ensures the correct procedure for each action will dramatically reduce ongoing costs and human errors.
There are an increasing number of products on the market that promise to help enterprises reduce the costs of delivering and maintaining unified communications applications. However, not all of them provide the range of capabilities required to effectively unify unified communications. Here are the key features to consider.