It has been stated, that the effects of the evolution of Unified Communications (UC) will be as revolutionary to communications systems as was the development of dial telephones early in the 20th century.
As IP communications became main stream, it became increasingly clear that IP communications affected the complexity of the IT infrastructure by requiring Layer 3 switching or segregated VLANs in the network.
For a traditional Telco person, this became a significant “sea change” as the traditional PBX’s and telephone systems operated at Layer 1 and 2 of the ISO seven layer model.
Not only was it a requirement to work with clients to ensure the infrastructure would support TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) and basic voice, but the ability to segregate and prioritize voice packets within an Ethernet environment became a key requirement. The interrelationship between voice, data and IT becomes more complex as the UC evolution continues.
A full blown UC deployment will allow the seamless integration of dial tone, IP connectivity and applications derived from the Enterprise Management Systems.
Having been involved in UC deployments at the Fox Group offices as well as with enterprise clients, it has become abundantly clear that a full blown UC deployment touches all seven layers of the ISO Model.
This is a significant paradigm shift from the perspective of the IT teams as much as it is for the traditional Telco folks.
Firstly, from the Telco perspective, this provides some truly interesting challenges. There is now a requirement to have staff that has technological fluency in telephony, data connectivity and IT applications. There are unique legacy issues imbedded in the Telephony environment that are often outside the core competencies of a pure IT person as much as IT can be a challenge for the pure Telephony mind.
As the industry moves closer to integrating these skills there will be challenges for both the Telco as well as the client to ensure that the integration challenges are addressed.
From the industry perspective, it will be increasingly important to understand how the client does business and what the key business functions are that could benefit from the application of Unified Communications applications.
This is not just a matter of reviewing a list of options, but a clear and complete understanding of a persons’ job function as a well as how the work is completed. From this granular understanding of functionality, the system needs to built to integrate this with the Enterprise-wide software applications such as Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange software.
This is an integration of a multitude of existing protocols … voice, digital, cellular, data networks and application software. The challenge for the service provider is find the right people who can clearly understand and articulate the value proposition of an integrated UC platform for the benefit of the client to maximize their investment.
In today’s environment, the client is not buying a piece of technology. They are investing in a solution, therefore the project plan needs to predicated on “what the solution will deliver” and then on the technical deployment. There has been an attitude “we know what is best for you” from traditional Telco people and this simply won’t work with highly educated and skilled IT people.
The solution needs to be well articulated and organized logically. The project plan becomes supporting information relative to the deployment process. Certainly, skill project management skills are required and are assumed to be in place but the technology deployment is not magic and the client needs to be involved in all aspects of the process.
Bill Elliott always welcomes your thoughts and feedback on these news items. You can contact him at [email protected] or 905.473.3369 x 1001.