Most companies are turning to unified communications (UC) solutions to support increasingly distributed workforces. Choosing the right solution and deployment model can be a daunting task, however. Here are some key steps you should take when preparing for a move to UC.
Evaluate your existing network
Real-time voice and video traffic places considerable demands on IP networks designed for “best effort” delivery of data packets. Delays caused by network congestion and routing problems are rarely noticeable with data traffic but are much more pronounced for real-time voice and video. Achieving acceptable UC performance typically requires the implementation of Quality of Service (QoS) measures to minimize latency, jitter and packet loss. A software-defined network can dynamically adjust network configurations and ensure UC quality.
Understand hybrid management challenges
UC is essential for supporting the communication and collaboration needs of a hybrid workforce, but it can create substantial provisioning challenges. Entering and configuring individual user settings for all endpoint devices used by employees moving between home and office is a massive job. IT teams may have to manage and provision hundreds or even thousands of desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets, often using manual processes that can take several hours per device. Automated endpoint management solutions can alleviate this burden by reducing provisioning time by more than 85 percent.
Define your UC requirements
It’s important to know what features and benefits your organization expects to gain from a UC migration. That will help you determine the deployment model that best suits your operational requirements. For example, companies that want to create custom integrations with business applications and contact center operations might be best served by an on-premises solution. A cloud-hosted solution might be preferable for those that just want a user-friendly platform with fewer management responsibilities and lower upfront costs. A hybrid mix of the two might be ideal if you need to protect investments in on-prem communications infrastructure but use it to connect with a variety of cloud-sourced services and tools.
Boost your security posture
UC delivers unquestioned efficiency and productivity benefits, but it also creates a much broader attack surface with greater numbers of endpoint devices connecting to network resources. An endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution that identifies malicious files and automatically initiates actions to block them should be part of a layered UC security plan. End-to-end encryption is essential for protecting all forms of data, both in transit and at rest. Other key security controls include identity and access management, session border controllers, VoIP-aware firewalls, virtual LANs and virtual private networks.
Develop user training strategies
UC is only effective if workers use it. End-user training is key to widespread adoption, and hybrid work requires training strategies suitable for both remote and office-based employees. In-person training is highly effective, but it can be difficult to organize with a distributed workforce. Online video sessions with on-demand access can reach everyone and can be revisited anytime at employees’ convenience. It’s also a good idea to conduct some real-time virtual events. Consider monitoring usage on an ongoing basis to determine if there are features that aren’t being used effectively.
Find a knowledgeable partner
UC creates the foundation for hybrid work by providing a common platform for office, remote and mobile users. However, consolidating all communication and collaboration functions in a single environment does present some challenges. A managed services provider who understands the challenges of the hybrid workplace can be a valuable partner in evaluating, implementing, managing and securing UC solutions. Contact the experts at Cerium Networks to discuss your UC requirements.
Future Proof Your Business Communications
A unified communications solution is essential for creating a common collaboration platform for remote and office employees. However, the transition can be complex. That’s why it’s important to work with a knowledgeable partner who understands the communication needs of the hybrid workforce. Contact the experts at Cerium to discuss your UC options.