Oct 14

UC can't be a Frankenstein network


The modern smartphone user is accustomed to finding their own solutions. App stores make it possible to find free tools that can fill any need possible. But while enterprises have to embrace mobility, allowing their staff members to choose their own software can create a monster of a problem - namely in terms of communications.

Frankenstein's Monster was brought to life thanks to some creative donations from the recently deceased. An arm here, a leg there and a head that wasn't always screwed on straight gave way to one of the most famous Halloween creatures of all time. While he appeared to be human, he wasn't really cut out for society. This is the kind of problem that enterprise telecom networks can run into if workers aren't provided with a coherent solution. Channels not only have to be available on the same device, but they have to exist within the same single source communication application and work together in new ways.

Part of the reason that Frankenstein's Monster met his ultimate demise was because the sum of his parts did not equate a cohesive whole. This is the same reason that a unified communications deployment can fail. If all platforms are not a part of the same connection, then employees will be set up for collaboration failure.

Re-thinking collaboration
The reason that so many organizations are seeking out UC is because the nature of work is changing. Thanks to the cloud, it is possible to spend more time working from home where staffers may feel more comfortable. As such, communications tools need to facilitate a more immersive, collaborative experience.

"No one expects to be able to find their colleagues in person any more, regardless of where they work - we are too busy being 'mobile' and 'virtual' for that," wrote No Jitter contributor Melanie Turek. "Technology had to be developed to take the place of the in-person interactions that, until a decade ago, were the foundation of the workplace."

But many companies that try to unlock this potential are often unable to do so. This is because telecommunications mean something much different than they used to. People rely more heavily on them to collaborate than just to pass messages along. Professionals need to feel as if they are in the same room with their colleagues, and landline business phone systems alone cannot meet this requirement.

But in order to get into the cloud-based UC world of tomorrow, there may need to be some changes made to existing networks. Legacy circuits are not naturally geared toward modern needs, and as such need to be updated.

SIP trunking helps make UC a reality
Those who want borderless voice access for their landline telephones are going to need something extra to properly enable their workers. This comes in the form of SIP trunking, which extends legacy phones onto data lines, where they can be placed in the cloud and pushed to smartphone users. This is a powerful way to foster collaboration for the new remote workforce that is growing every day.

Don't be like the doctor
Frankenstein's goal was to build a new human and create life. But with all the mismatched parts, things obviously didn't go quite to plan. This is how unified communications deployments can come up short as well. If channels are not part of a cohesive infrastructure then they are not likely to work in the ways that people need them to.

But the first step to making this happen is implementing SIP trunking. This will allow cloud functionality to be leveraged without moving completely to a hosted service.

Oct 14

Cloud VoIP haunted by poor understanding


One of the biggest talking points in the cloud conversation is security. Some people believe that reported cloud-related problems are enough to write the technology off as dangerous for business use. While things like toll fraud can scare many people into thinking that the cloud should be avoided for communications, there is something to remember - the cloud is only as strong as the protections put in front of it. Just like every other technology, the cloud fail if it is not deployed or managed correctly.

"The truth is that the risks that come with cloud computing are like any other business risk: The more you understand them, the easier they are to control," wrote CIO contributor Emma Byrne. "Thankfully, assessing cloud-based risks has plenty in common with risk assessments of your existing business processes. Analyzing those risks doesn't require any special magic."

The cloud has a lot to offer - namely in the way of communication. The modern workforce needs single source communications applications in order to reach their full mobile potential. But cloud communications are haunted by the failures of others. These ghosts will need to be dismissed in order to effectively leverage modern communications networks.

Oct 14

Don't get spooked by cloud horror stories


October is well upon us, and Halloween is drawing closer. This is the time of year when scary stories are told around the campfire and kids get spooked by tales of ghosts and goblins. But year-round, there is another kind of horror story woven in the business world - one surrounding the cloud and it's perceived weaknesses.

But using the cloud for enterprise purposes is nothing to fear. In fact, it is something to embrace. While there have been countless headlines painting the cloud as a security risk, it is how you use it that dictates its success. Just like any other piece of technology, if it isn't handled correctly, trouble can brew faster than a witch's cauldron.

"It all comes down to management," wrote ITBusinessEdge contributor Sue Poremba. "Cloud security has to be addressed just as any other security management system. It means understanding what data get stored in the cloud and what data stay on the internal network. It means understanding the different risks and benefits of cloud formats."

According to The Guardian contributor Clive G​ringras, cloud security is a common concern for many. Thankfully, using the cloud can be simple and effective - namely when leveraging it as a communications network. Single source communications apps can be uploaded to employee phones, enabling limitless access to company networks and allowing staffers to be connected constantly.

So while there are plenty of spooky stories out there about the unreliability of the cloud, they should all be taken with a grain of salt. Human error and poor planning are often to blame for botched cloud deployments, and these instances should scare anyone away. What's more frightening these days is the idea of being left behind by rival companies. So in order to keep up, cloud communications are going to be essential.

Oct 14

Unified communications let businesses have it all if deployed properly


Freddie Mercury of Queen famously once sang, "I want it all." Businesses are carrying a similar tune these days in terms of their communication networks. The time of siloed endpoints and scattered channels is over - unified communications has arrived.

What makes UC so valuable is that it is inherently customizable. As long as all connections are available through data lines, they can be altered and leveraged in innovative, new ways. Collaboration between colleagues can occur without having to be in the same physical location. But in order for deployments to be successful, there are a number of considerations that will need to be taken into account.

"Businesses of all shapes and sizes are recognizing the substantial benefits to be enjoyed by adopting or improving collaboration tools," wrote TMCnet contributor Clayton Hamshar. "However, there are many elements to consider before investment and an ideal balance must be sought among them to ensure rapid and seamless adoption, widespread practicality and measurable advantage in a competitive environment."

On-site vs. hosted deployments
One of the biggest decisions that will need to be made is in regard to where a system will reside. This is going to depend heavily on existing capabilities. Should a company possess business phone systems that still have inherent value, it may be best to adapt those circuits through the process of SIP trunking. But if legacy networks are on their last legs, a hosted deployment makes much more sense to pursue.

But the quality of current connections will not be the sole indicator of what deployment model to go with. Other present capabilities will need to be taken into account - like the nature of employee interactions.

"The business environment itself is an important factor, especially its culture and workflow," Hamshar stated. "It is critical that a collaboration tool seamlessly fits into the corporate culture of a particular business and interacts well with its unique command structure. By prioritizing the study of a business's general workflows and processes, a collaboration tool can be deployed in a way that maximizes its usefulness and overall contribution to the company."

Unified communication adoptions on the rise
As more companies discover the advantages of having a UC network, it will be essential to keep up with a changing status quo. The number of organizations that are implementing UC is growing - a fact evidenced by a recent Research and Markets report. According to a global forecast, the market value for telecom IT services will reach $233.05 billion by 2019, which marks an annual growth of 28.2 percent.

Those investing in things like single source communications apps are aware of how their organization can be specifically benefited by UC initiatives.

"If a company is acutely aware of what it's critical success factors are, what business head units are rewarded for and what the top and bottom lines are, it will be able to see a clearer picture of how investment in collaboration tools will improve those measures," Hamshar wrote. "Businesses must be well versed in transparency and self-reflection practices in order to easily discern how integration of a new tool would mesh with the company's values and help goals be met."

If the band's music was any indication, Queen wanted it all - just like modern enterprises do. More often than not, unified communications are going to be the only way to get it. In order to stay on the cutting edge of business, UC - either hosted or on-site - is going to be imperative to possess. Mercury also once sang that "nothing really matters," but effective communications are definitely important.