What's UC buyer's checklist ?
- Author:Owen Zhong
- Time of issue:2020-10-15 00:26
What's UC buyer's checklist ?
(Summary description)What's UC buyer's checklist ? 10 tips to answer
- Author:Owen Zhong
- Time of issue:2020-10-15 00:26
UC&C, or Unified Communication and Collaboration, is a market that’s growing in popularity by the day. In fact, the value of the UC&C is expected to reach more than $143.5 billion by the end of 2024.
Whether you’re a small business trying to improve the productivity and performance of your company, or a large enterprise striving to compete in a saturated marketplace, UC can be a powerful tool for growth.
Of course, like any stage in business development, or any strategy for digital transformation, you’ll need a careful plan to make sure that your UC implementation is as successful as possible. That plan starts with figuring out what kind of UC solution is right for your business. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that will work for everyone. However, there are a number of things every organisation needs to consider when launching their UC strategy.
Make sure you go through this UC buyer’s checklist before you start investing.
1. Why Are You Buying UC?
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when implementing a UC service is beginning by asking themselves “how” they’re going to get started with UC, instead of “why” they’re taking this journey.
Before you even begin looking at vendors, ask yourself what you want to accomplish with UC. What do your employees need to make them more productive? How will UC simplify your workflow, and make your business more efficient? Depending on your business, vertical and niche, you’re likely to have your own specific needs. For instance:
- You may need a system that helps you to keep a highly-diverse and mobile workforce connected while they’re in the field
- You may be looking for a way to enable your teams to work together more efficiently, reducing costs and improving productivity
- You may want to boost collaboration with tools that allow people to work together on projects in a more streamlined way
Before you start browsing through technology, bring your business leaders together and think about how you can use UC to make your business more competitive. The answer to “Why should we implement UC” should never be just “because our competitors have.” You need the why before you can begin to determine the how.
2. How Will It Help You Deliver Better Customer Experience?
Today, 62% of companies view customer experience to be a competitive differentiator – and that number keeps growing. As more companies continue to enter the marketplace, customers are looking to commit their loyalty to someone who can offer next-level service and support. Your UC strategy can help you with this, by giving you a way to unify your workforce in the search for client solutions.
For instance, with UC you can ensure that your employees have the collaboration tools, presence information and communication strategies to work together on solving customer problems. This way, your employees get more satisfaction from your jobs, and your end-users get the experience they deserve.
At the same time, a UC strategy can provide a unified hub of contextual information for employees to access when they’re addressing customer queries in an omnichannel environment. With UC, call centre agents don’t need to switch between applications to pull up customer information from an instant message when they escalate the conversation to a VoIP call. With all the information in the same channel, issues can be resolved faster, leading to greater satisfaction.
Before you invest in any specific UC strategy, ask yourself how it’s going to help you to deliver a better customer experience all-around. Will it need to integrate with your CRM system so that you can benefit from client analytics and predictive technologies? Will your UC service need a call centre solution built-in? The more you know about how your CX and UC strategies intertwine, the more successful your investment will be.
3. Do You Have a Plan for Implementation?
As powerful as the right UC solution can be, you’ll never see the full potential of your strategy until you have the right plan in place for adoption. You’ll need to make sure that you know how you’re going to roll your new services and features out to your team.
Begin by asking yourself who is going to be using your UC service every day, and what they’re going to need to get the most out of your new tools. Ultimately, the purpose of a UC strategy is to empower and engage your workforce. If you’re simply deploying new technology to “Keep up with the Jones’s” then you’ve missed the point of UC. Take the time to analyse and understand your workforce, so you can determine what kind of teams you need to set up, what devices you need, and which software you want to use.
- Who will be using your UC services?
- What kind of tasks do they perform every day?
- Where could their existing processes be improved by UC?
- Which devices do your teams use now, and how will they integrate with new strategies?
- How many of your workers are mobile, or on the field, and will need access to cloud-based UC resources?
4. Which Deployment Method Is Right for You?
As mentioned above, there’s no single strategy for implementing a UC service. Some smaller companies who are just launching their communication strategy for the first time might find it easier to embrace a fully-hosted cloud model. After all, UC on the cloud comes with no initial investment or installation to worry about, which is ideal for companies on a tight budget. At the same time, the cloud offers the scalability and versatility that many companies need in the agile marketplace.
On the other hand, some larger enterprises that have been in business for a while may find that it’s easier to maintain some or all of their existing on-premise hardware. Depending on the needs of your employees, you may feel that it’s easier to simply add new features to the systems they’re already using. On the other hand, you might embrace a hybrid cloud model that allows you to continue getting the most out of your on-prem investment, while you explore the potential of the cloud too.
Today, many businesses are beginning to embrace the cloud on a deeper level. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a space left for on-premises technology. The key is making sure that the provider you choose can accommodate your deployment preferences and grow with you as your business evolves.
5. Will You Need Call Centre Functionality?
Creating a truly “unified” communication stack means finding a way to bridge the gap between both your external and internal systems for connectivity. Often, a UC strategy will begin by combining the different tools that an internal team uses to communicate and collaborate throughout the day. For instance, this might mean placing screen sharing, file sharing, video conferencing, VoIP and instant messaging tools on the same platform.
However, it is possible to go beyond those initial integrations with your UC service, to combine your internal communications strategy, with the systems you use to connect with consumers and clients too. For instance, some of the more innovative UC solutions in the market today come with contact centre services that allow you to escalate calls to the right agent at the right time, check for presence, and communicate with teams about specific client problems.
A UC solution can also support an omnichannel customer service strategy – something that’s growing increasingly important in the modern marketplace. In a world where your customer expects to be able to speak to you on the channel they prefer, Unified Communications gives your employees a presence on everything from social media to web chat, SMS, and more.
6. Is Your UC Service Mobile Enabled?
The remote workforce is on the rise, with 50% of all UK employees ready to embrace a flexible working schedule by 2020. It’s not just the United Kingdom that’s embracing this method of work either. Companies around the world have begun to discover that remote workers are more productive, satisfied and efficient than their in-office counterparts.
As the remote workplace grows increasingly popular, today’s UC strategies must be prepared to suit a range of working strategies. This means that any service you choose needs to work just as well on a smartphone or tablet, as it does on a desktop or laptop.
It’s not just the remote workforce that’s driving the demand for mobile UC either. Additional trends like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which empower employees to perform tasks on their preferred technology is pushing this trend too. At the same time, as much as 70% of the business world involves staff members who don’t work behind a desk. Field workers, retail reps, and people who travel for business can’t be restricted to a specific space.
Whether you have a current mobility strategy in place, or you’re beginning to adjust your workplace environment to suit the needs of a digital workforce, your UC solution must be equipped to tap into the potential of mobility.
7. Which Endpoints and Accessories Will You Need?
While investing in a cloud-based UC strategy is a great way to reduce the initial outlay for your communication stack, you’ll still need to think carefully about how you can make the most out of your UC system with the right selection of endpoints and accessories.
For those with a BYOD system already in place, there may be no need to invest in any hardware at all. Instead, employees can simply access the tools they need on their phones and use their devices to make calls or join video conferences when necessary. However, for larger companies, it’s likely that a more refined endpoint strategy will be necessary. Depending on how your staff works best, there are various endpoints and accessories you can consider. For instance:
- You may need an ATA adapter to help you access your VoIP strategy
- To conduct audio conversations, you might need a softphone, desktop phones, or simply a headset that cancels out excess noise for your users
- Conference phones can help to add more functionality and quality assurance to meetings, and there are even personal speakerphones available for smaller meetings
Some particularly innovative enterprise brands have even begun to invest in room systems that integrate with their UC strategies. For instance, a room set-up for either a traditional conference space or huddle room could include a digital whiteboard, conference phone, and webcam for video calling purposes.
8. Which Critical IT Systems Will It Need to Integrate With?
While many different factors can make or break the success of a UC implementation, few things are more important than integration in the modern landscape. Whether you’re building a UC strategy from scratch, or you’re designing a solution to work with your existing on-premise equipment, you need a system that’s flexible enough to integrate securely with the services that you rely on every day.
Integration in the UC space goes beyond simply making sure that you can take VoIP calls on your existing desk phones or set up video conference calls on the same screen as your instant messaging facilities. An integration-friendly UC service will need to connect with a host of different applications, including:
- File storage systems – can your team access the essential files they need on the cloud to collaborate quickly on projects?
- Email services – Will your employees be able to send emails using the same single-pane-of-glass interface?
- CRM solutions – Can your team check customer data and perform analytics within their UC services?
Before implementing any new UC service, sit down with your IT team and figure out which services your employees use every day that will need to work inside of your unified communication strategy.
9. Will It Be Compatible with Your Existing Telecom System?
As mentioned above, there are various components involved in designing an integration-friendly UC strategy. Once you’ve made sure that your users will be able to access a simple and streamlined workflow with tools that integrate with their existing CRM, email, and file storage strategies, you’ll need to ensure that your existing hardware will work securely, and reliably with your new communication strategy.
Many larger companies invest a lot of time and money into choosing the right telecom system for their employees. If you already have video conferencing systems, desk phones, and call recording solutions in place, then sometimes the last thing you want is to have to re-purchase all of your investments so that they align with your new UC service.
Look for a UC vendor that can offer integration with a host of different hardware endpoints, including and headsets or desktop phones you plan on using as part of a contact centre environment. Your UC services and your endpoints need to work together seamlessly to provide the best possible communication strategy.
10. Do you Have Security, Compliance, and Privacy Covered?
Finally, it’s crucial to make sure that any update you make to your unified communication stack, doesn’t come at the expense at exceptional security and compliance. With regulations all the way from HIPAA to GDPR to consider, every business needs to take the time to address their privacy and security issues carefully and figure out how their UC services fit into a safe environment.
Bring your security experts and CIOs together to figure out which regulations and rules you’ll need to implement alongside your UC services to protect yourself from human error. At the same time, you can also look for a UC vendor that offers next-level security and compliance services in the form of end-to-end encryptions, session border controllers (SBCs), firewalls, reporting, and more.
When it comes to privacy, think about how granular the permission levels are for your UC tools, and whether you have solutions in place to protect against the inherent security risks that come with BYOD strategies. Consider how your new UC will store recordings, and whether you can put additional steps in place to ensure that you’re getting the right permissions to hold onto and use customer data.
Just as you have a plan for business success or disaster recovery, the right plan for a secure UC implementation could make or break your firm’s future. Make sure that you’re prepared to optimise your results and minimise your risk.
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