One of the positive aspects about unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technology is its broad range of features and offerings. Unfortunately, one of the daunting things about UCC is its smorgasbord of features and offerings.

You can start with a simple VoIP-based telephony integrated with productivity tools, so that employees get unified messaging, and then add anything from forwarding profiles to audio- and videoconferencing. Melanie Turek, industry director for analyst firm Frost and Sullivan, has written that companies that deploy UCC technology now will see a two-to-five-year advantage from using the tools ahead of the competition.

Man in Server Room

However, there’s no requirement that companies implement all of UCC’s capabilities at once, or that they do the implementation in-house. “To ensure success, companies should work with a managed services provider with deep experience in the UCC market and the ability to support a complex infrastructure and varied set of endpoints,” Turek says. “But they should also look for a partner that understands specific vertical markets and line-of-business processes.”[1]

As with any hosted or managed service, relying on a service provider for UCC technology gives an organization a variety of advantages, several of which are particularly helpful when it comes to UCC.

Capex savings. Depending on the breadth of the UCC deployment, it may require a number of servers, software and networking equipment. By relying on a service provider, companies avoid investing in those capabilities. This saves capital expenses and allows a company to pay a monthly fee for UCC services.

IT resources. Companies whose IT staffs do not include the networking expertise necessary for deploying UCC can avoid the need to hire those resources quickly. The companies can either avoid the requirement by relying solely on the service provider, or used a phased approach to incrementally add UCC-knowledgeable staff while relying on a third party to benefit users at the outset.

Network integration. In some cases, too, the service provider can integrate with a company’s already installed network capabilities to keep initial costs down. UCC technology is flexible
enough that a service provider can create what’s known as a hybrid setup that will take advantage of any current capacity in the company’s network and servers, but still maintain the reliability of a managed, off-site UCC system.

Flexible usage models. Using a managed services provider for UCC allows companies flexibility for what UCC features they use. Not every company needs high-end UCC capabilities all the time. For instance, if a company only requires videoconferencing on a monthly basis, there’s no reason to deploy the bandwidth, servers and software necessary to do so and let it sit unused. But taking advantage of it on an as-needed basis through a service provider keeps costs low and enables the company to determine how valuable such a feature might be on an ongoing basis.

Clearly, deploying UCC technology needn’t be daunting. By offloading the management of it to a service provider, companies can increase their employees’ ability to communicate and collaborate without the commitment of internal staff or financial resources.