BCOM or Bust
UC experts speaking at Enterprise Connect 2015 agree that business communications operations management is quickly becoming a critical success factor.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, UCStrategies has identified a new UC category called business communications operations management, or BCOM for short. As expected, BCOM generated a lot of buzz at the recent Enterprise Connect 2015 conference.
For example, a BCOM-related sponsored session drew about 100 attendees. I moderated the session, leading a group of top UC experts -- No Jitter bloggers Marty Parker, Kevin Kieller, Blair Pleasant, and Zeus Kerravala -- in a lively discussion about how the new BCOM offerings can automate the operations of a modern business communications/UC system and help achieve deployment success (find the session audio and slides here).
BCOM Building Blocks
Those of you who weren't able to attend, BCOM supports the integration of a wide range of lifecycle events in order to drive configurations across enterprise communications platforms and systems. BCOM solutions are multiapplication, multidevice, multivendor, multisystem, multitenant, and multiregion. In addition, they offer comprehensive integration to business and user lifecycle change events (see schematic, below).
And, as Parker noted during our session, BCOM enables the critical process of identifying use cases and delivering solutions through profiles.
"Today about 50% of the total five-year ownership cost of a communications solution is the staff time required for operations and management, a percentage that has been increasing as licensing and hardware costs decline. Reducing this operational time to free up resources for communications innovations should be a priority," said Parker, who is UCStrategies co-founder and principal of UniComm Consulting.
Improved Availability, Greater Adoption
One area of focus for BCOM is reducing the errors that have come with the explosion in lifecycle change events as well as the need to interface with multiple systems and vendors to implement a change. This exponential growth in both sophistication and complexity is driving a significant number of errors, some of which impact users. "Configuration errors during the operations process are a critical issue in UC today," said Kerravala, who is principal at ZK Research. "In fact," he added, "30% of outages are caused by configuration errors and increasing. For UC adopters, addressing this issue is very important."
Clearly, assuring accuracy and repeatability in changes and configurations is critical both to availability as well as for user acceptance.
Adoption and use of the new advanced business communications capabilities is often a challenge. If new systems are slow to be delivered or improperly configured, users will turn to external options, reducing the use and return on investment of new systems, said Pleasant, another UCStrategies co-founder and principal analyst at CommFusion. "Success in UC is often dependent on adoption of new capabilities and the impact on the business. BCOM enables staff to move beyond the challenges of operations to focus on enablement and adoption, while avoiding errors and delays that reduce both user satisfaction and adoption," she explained.
Another major topic that came up in the panel discussion was the need for multivendor support and the challenges of having employees highly trained across multiple systems. While this often is part of ongoing operations, it can become especially critical during migrations, said Kieller, who is a partner with EnableUC.
"We are seeing a large number of customers migrating to Skype for Business (Lync), but retaining their existing voice infrastructure for an extended period. The operations and configurations in these transitions is challenging, and the tools that BCOM provides are essential to a successful transition and changes," he added.
While the speakers noted the importance of additional management functions like monitoring and assurance, they strongly agreed that BCOM is a critical component in any sophisticated UC deployment today. It needs to be a consideration for anyone deploying a new business communications or UC system.
The BCOM topic also surfaced during another session, "EC Summit: Managing in a Software-Intensive World." During this session, Chris May, Voss vice president of business development and product marketing, and Phil Moen, Unimax CEO, also talked to the value of operations and configuration in the success of the business communications solutions. One of their key points was that highly trained communications engineers must look at BCOM as the toolset that lets them move from mundane process chores to focusing on the new areas of business enablement and adoption.
Overall, Enterprise Connect discussions made clear that anyone managing business communications should be considering BCOM as a success factor. If you're interested in learning more about BCOM, you can find more information in the UCStrategies article, "Introducing Business Communications Operations Management (BCOM) - A New Management and Operations Paradigm."