The 5 Biggest UC Pitfalls -- and How to Avoid Them

Every implementation of new technology comes with some level of risk. And unified communications implementations are no exception. In fact, UC deployments are arguably more risky than most other technology projects precisely because they're so crucial to today's digital transformation initiatives.

The price of failure is high. A poorly executed UC strategy can hinder an organization's ability to deliver high-quality customer experience and compete in today's digital economy. If you're the UC manager, a failed deployment could lead to some difficult conversations ahead.

A successful deployment, on the other hand, brings better ways to connect with coworkers, customers, and partners -- and enables an organization to conduct business faster and more effectively.

With so much on the line, so you need to get your UC implementation right the first time. Here are five of the biggest UC risks you face and how you can overcome them.

1. Choosing the wrong vendor for your organization. Every UC vendor is different, so you really need to understand the various platforms and how they align with your business objectives. Some solutions, for instance, are all about the cloud but lack robust feature sets in comparison to on-premises UC tools. Yet some on-premises solutions may not provide the consumption flexibility and pricing benefits of cloud and managed service offerings. Other solutions may have lots of great features but are one-size-fits-all products that don't allow for easy customization.

You need to know up front what your business wants to achieve with its UC initiative. Then you need to do your homework to see which product best aligns with your goals. Make sure the solution you choose is well suited to where you are today -- and where you plan to be tomorrow.

2. Failing to get executive buy-in. If the C-suite doesn't support the UC initiative from the start, you risk losing broader support. This will be trouble when the inevitable hiccups and glitches occur during rollout. Because if and when the deployment takes a wrong turn, it will require a team effort to get it back on track -- and this can only happen when leadership is fully invested in the project.

What's more, UC deployments are typically long-term initiatives that take place in increments, so you need the continuing confidence of your executive team or you risk losing the additional resources you'll need to take the implementation to its conclusion. To this end, your leadership team must articulate a vision for how the UC deployment will foster innovation and drive the organization forward.

3. Neglecting to pilot. Before fully deploying your new UC solution, you need to conduct a thorough, well-executed pilot. This pilot should involve the entire organization, because different parts of the business will be using different parts of the UC system for different purposes.

During the pilot, you must test your network environment to ensure readiness and quality. In other words, don't test for just one call. Test for multiple calls simultaneously to discover the breaking points. And don't only test for the number of users you have today. Test for what your usage will look like in the future when you've added headcount.

And be sure to test for what the network profile will look like when current users start consuming more of the UC suite (video, conferencing, app sharing, etc.). This is key as adoption is the enabler of digital transformation.

4. Not having an available system. You've completed the pilot, and now you're ready for production. At this point many organizations encounter a critical problem: their existing infrastructures aren't prepared for the new demands placed on them by digital transformation, which results in unreliable systems that aren't highly available and stable for users. Obviously, such issues will negatively impact your business, because call quality will be suboptimal, phone calls won't be routed correctly, and customers won't be able reach your sales and support staffs.

If these issues do arise (and they probably will), you need visibility and insight to figure out what's wrong and how to fix the problem immediately. This, in turn, requires that you have the capacity to monitor the health of your new technology infrastructure continuously.

Where do you get that? You deploy an experience-management solution on top of your UC system. This will give you the ongoing management, comprehensive reports, and helpful analytics you need to maintain a 24/7 holistic view of your network and gain immediate insight into issues that require attention. An experience-management solution provides an end-to-end view of your networks, systems, and users, helping you maximize the benefits of your UC deployment and deliver a positive user experience long after initial implementation.

5. Getting stuck in firefighting mode. At many organizations, complexity has tipped into chaos and many UC managers find themselves constantly in firefighting mode. Calls with customers are jittery, videoconferences freeze, audio cuts out, and the guy in conference room B calls in to complain that the woman he's talking with sounds like she's six feet underwater. You've got angry users and lost business. That's bad. But it gets worse. In this sort of environment, your UC team will be working long hours, including nights and weekends -- a drag on morale that leads to burnout and rapid turnover.

The reason organizations find themselves in this position is they lack visibility. They're always reacting to problems and they're fixing the same problems constantly. You can avoid this. You can see issues looming in your UC ecosystem and solve them before your users even know that something is wrong. You can do this if you have an experience-management and monitoring tool that helps you diagnose problems at all levels, from the network to the endpoints. Then you can identify root causes quickly to get back up and running without delay.

When UC systems work well, they're great. When they don't, they can result in lost productivity and squandered opportunities, and cause customers to question your business. Worse, they can cause decision makers to start doubting the team responsible for digital transformation. But with monitoring and visibility, you can pursue your digital transformation secure in the knowledge that all risks will be seen, solved... and ultimately become rewards.

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