As technology grows more complicated and sophisticated, the challenges facing IT teams in handling new technology will also grow in complexity as a result. This year, the three largest purchase drivers of hardware, software and other services in IT are the need to replace end of life technology, the need for additional technology, as a result of company growth, and the need to upgrade/refresh existing technology. The rise of an increasingly mobile and, therefore, more technologically demanding global workforce has driven the need for more flexible technology to accommodate the technologically savvy modern workers of today. In this age of rapidly evolving technology, it is essential to stay ahead of the curve, but to do so, you must be strategic about your approach to technology integration — including collaboration software.
The problem with all this new technology, however, is that aspects of integration and implementation are often only considered as an afterthought. This puts IT teams under pressure to deliver top-notch performance despite the challenges associated with implementing complex new collaboration software into an existing unified communications and collaboration (U&C) infrastructure that may serve to complicate the installation process.
How can IT teams seamlessly integrate new software and collaboration solutions into an existing UC infrastructure while being mindful of the technology needs of their employee base? There are a few key considerations for CIOs and IT managers to keep in mind when looking to incorporate new software into their collaboration strategy; by addressing these topics before integration, IT decision-makers can pave the way for a seamless deployment with fewer complications for their IT team.
Key Considerations for a Smooth UC&C Deployment
All too often, issues of network security aren’t addressed until late in the software deployment process, creating unnecessary obstacles for IT teams. Any collaboration technology will require large amounts of data to be sent across your networks, and it is essential that your security team be comfortable with whichever route you select as your collaboration provider.
Having security involved from the start will save time, simplify the deployment process and ensure a smooth integration for your enterprise. Standard security protocols and documentation should be at the ready throughout the development of your strategy. Any potential collaboration tool considered by your company should address data, infrastructure, physical and application security. To ignore security until late in the deployment is to set your IT team up for a more complicated deployment.
Before any web conferencing deployment occurs, it is important that the proper ports have been opened and the necessary domains have been whitelisted so that the deployment can go off without a hitch. To ensure that your collaboration project runs properly and to facilitate stellar communication, the proper ports must be open and the necessary domains whitelisted so the software can function at full capacity. In many cases, the necessary ports are already open, however, this is a crucial step to ensuring that your IT team has a seamless deployment.
For any collaboration project to deliver at its highest capacity, there are certain hardware and software requirements that must be met. To be used efficiently, the collaboration project requires certain system requirements to provide users with a top-notch collaboration experience without meeting drops, garbled VoIP audio or glitchy screen shares.
A consistent Quality of Service (QoS) is essential for any web conferencing service to run successfully and deliver the best possible communication experience. In order for streaming media applications to ensure the timely delivery of your audio, video and web conference to your meeting guests, consistent network throughput is required.
Without this consistent network throughput, the near-instantaneous delivery of data that has come to be expected in modern web, video and audio conferencing cannot be guaranteed. This could cause delays in your network which will dramatically impact the user experience; consistent QoS, on the other hand, delivers a superb collaboration experience that facilitates better communication and ideation.
Managed vs. Unmanaged Deployment
There are two options that enterprises may use when installing collaboration tools: managed deployment or unmanaged deployment. In a managed deployment, IT administrators push deployments to their users’ Windows machines using the installer’s silent mode.
In an unmanaged deployment, a company allows its end users to download and install the collaboration solution on their Windows and Mac computers. End users will be able to see the software installer with this type of deployment. For unmanaged deployments, companies may either point their users to the installer URL or host the installation file on their own web page.
Both types of deployment offerings have their own set of pros and cons, and it is important for IT to work alongside your Sales Engineer to weigh the pros and cons of managed vs. unmanaged deployments to determine which option makes the most sense for your enterprise.
As you plan your collaboration integration strategy, mobility should be a critical consideration. It is vital to partner with companies that have the tools necessary to diversify and simplify how your employees connect and communicate. As the global mobile workforce continues to expand at a breathtaking pace, mobility should be a key factor of consideration for companies looking to “future-proof” their UC&C strategy.
Mobile phones are beginning to supplant desk phones in many enterprises. One in three conference calls are now being conducted on mobile phones, and that number is expected to rise to 66 percent by 2020, according to our own research. With these figures, there is no doubt that taking a mobile-first approach to your collaboration strategy will pay off in the long run (and potentially even the short run).
Collaboration deployments that lack mobility considerations are sure to fall short of the expectations and needs of today’s global workforce and tech-savvy employees. With the rise of a mobile preference for collaboration, it will be critical for IT teams to invest in UC&C technology that deliver on a high-quality mobile experience and enable employees to stay connected and collaborate efficiently and effectively with their team members.
When it comes to your UC&C strategy, knowledge is more than just power — it’s the difference between stilted, inefficient communication that hinders productivity and fosters frustrations and seamless, effortless collaboration taking place on a grand scale from any device, in any location across the globe. The key to a hassle-free UC&C integration is all about preparation; by reviewing the above considerations when developing your UC&C strategy, you are setting the stage for an easier software deployment that will leave IT teams feeling satisfied and employees feeling connected.
Pat Harper, CTO, PGi
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