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Get Smart: Building Your UC Education

Get Smart: Building Your UC Education

An inhibitor to any stage of unified communications deployment is a lack of education.

An inhibitor to any stage of unified communications deployment is a lack of education.An inhibitor to any stage of unified communications deployment is a lack of education.Having now covered unified communications (UC) from several angles on Tom’s IT Pro, we hope the case has been made that UC can offer compelling new productivity and bottom line benefits in businesses of any size. However, one of the biggest inhibitors in any stage of UC deployment, even the initial decision to pursue an analog-to-digital change, is lack of education.

Without a general education on the subject followed by platform-specific training, any UC venture will be faced with many unnecessary challenges and lost opportunities.

“IT departments still struggle with comprehension of the real definition of UC,” says Richard English, Practice Director, Strategic Communications Consulting, Avaya Professional Services. “Presence, mobility, and collaboration are all components, and there is a belief that integration with email is a UC solution. But that is only a minor component in the total solution.”

Education in UC begins with understanding definitions and the scope of the technology. It’s easy to become myopic about UC and view it as a desktop solution or a voice-centric solution that’s focused on apps, and so on. But taking this narrow approach will block an organization from taking a holistic approach to UC and properly leveraging it to its fullest potential.

“For on-premises deployments a few things are key,” says Matthew Woodget, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft, using the company’s own Lync UC platform as an example. “IT will need an understanding of deploying and managing enterprise class software. In addition to familiarity with Lync, the team will need Active Directory expertise, Exchange (including Unified Messaging) skills, an understanding of conferencing basics, and a grasp of telephony fundamentals are all cornerstones for effective deployments and adoption of UC. Microsoft Lync is designed to be intuitive and natural to adopt with the intent of helping companies reduce costs associated with training.”

The relationship between UC and surrounding third-party applications can play a significant role in the education process and may even influence which UC platform gets adopted. After all, if there are ample resources available on how to integrateyour existing applications on UC “Platform A” and almost nothing on doing the same with “Platform B,” this may well sway a company onto a given purchasing path, even if Platform B is priced significantly less.

William Van Winkle has been a full-time tech writer and author since 1998. He specializes in a wide range of coverage areas, including unified communications, virtualization, Cloud Computing, storage solutions and more. William lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his wife and 2.4 kids, and—when not scrambling to meet article deadlines—he enjoys reading, travel, and writing fiction.

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