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Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is the Program Co-Chair of the Enterprise Connect events, helping to set program content and direction for the...
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Eric Krapf | April 29, 2008 |

 
   

UC Strategy Impacts Today's PBX/ACD Decision

UC Strategy Impacts Today's PBX/ACD Decision This post was written by Jason Alley, lead consultant at Vanguard Communications. Enterprise customers are becoming more aware of Unified Communications (UC) applications and issues. However, I find many still compartmentalize UC as a futures-only consideration that doesn't have much bearing on current PBX/ACD investment decisions. After a recent client engagement, I am convinced every enterprise should be armed with a UC Strategy before making a major PBX/ACD decision. Let's take a closer look at this case study.

This post was written by Jason Alley, lead consultant at Vanguard Communications. Enterprise customers are becoming more aware of Unified Communications (UC) applications and issues. However, I find many still compartmentalize UC as a futures-only consideration that doesn't have much bearing on current PBX/ACD investment decisions. After a recent client engagement, I am convinced every enterprise should be armed with a UC Strategy before making a major PBX/ACD decision. Let's take a closer look at this case study.

This post was written by Jason Alley, lead consultant at Vanguard Communications.

Enterprise customers are becoming more aware of Unified Communications (UC) applications and issues. However, I find many still compartmentalize UC as a futures-only consideration that doesn't have much bearing on current PBX/ACD investment decisions. After a recent client engagement, I am convinced every enterprise should be armed with a UC Strategy before making a major PBX/ACD decision. Let's take a closer look at this case study.Case Study Our team was asked to help develop a Request for Proposal, and work through the selection process, for a PBX/ACD solution meant to address an immediate office expansion and eventual replacement of an aging PBX and problematic ACD system.

The most critical need was to ensure enterprise users occupying new office space had basic dial-tone and voicemail capabilities. The expansion/move was to take place in fairly short order, so there wasn't time to analyze and document business requirements. Purchasing a new PBX (from one of the major suppliers) rather than investing in an aging system seemed to make good sense. Our job was to help make sure whatever system selected would support the needs of the contact center and future enterprise requirements.

A few nuggets of information were uncovered while onsite:

  • The client had conducted UC research and was planning to move to a UC infrastructure offered by a vendor other than the two PBX/ACD suppliers that were under consideration for the current PBX/ACD replacement project. And, this new UC infrastructure would eventually address the company's voice communications needs as well.

  • The existing PBX was capable of meeting the company's basic needs for another three years.

  • The existing ACD system was a good short-to-mid-term (and potentially long term) fit, and most of the issues encountered to-date had to do with design/implementation and the supplier relationship.

  • There were both technical and organizational complexities within the company that prevented a VoIP deployment in the short term.

  • Process optimization and requirements analysis still needed to be done to help the company avoid spending significant money implementing like-for-like functionality. Additional analysis was completed and the team determined purchasing a new PBX/ACD system was not the best answer. Why invest $1M+ in a new PBX/ACD platform that will eventually be replaced by its UC successor?

    In light of this, the team agreed the preferred path forward was to leverage existing infrastructure for the (immediate) office expansion, upgrade and stabilize the existing ACD system and supplier relationship, conduct needed process optimization and requirements analysis to re-define how the company will manage communications and collaboration in the future, and begin a calculated progression with UC (by job type/category) and contact center enhancements. This approach will enable the client to:

  • Meet the immediate needs of the business.
  • Spend today's money smartly, with the future in mind.
  • Enhance the way they do business by having business requirements drive technology decisions (which of course should be driven by corporate strategy and goals).
  • Ready the data network to support future communication needs (e.g., VoIP).
  • Leverage their UC platform of choice to deliver voice capabilities, in addition to instant messaging, presence, click-to-communicate, and a wide range of collaborative tools. This UC infrastructure will eventually replace the existing PBX/VM systems, as products mature and the client becomes more familiar with the technology.
  • Buy time to see how their UC provider will address the company's contact center needs, through partnership and/or other investment activities.

    What started out as a simple PBX/ACD replacement project turned into an interesting case study illustrating why it's critical to have a UC Strategy in place when making today's PBX/ACD purchase decisions. This seems like a no-brainer but, as mentioned above, too often people compartmentalize UC as a futures-only consideration that doesn't have much bearing on current investment decisions. Hopefully this case study will help change perceptions and serve as a call to action.

    Do you have a UC Strategy in place? How has it impacted/validated your PBX/ACD purchase decisions?



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