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Editor's note: In part eight of our series on assessing mobile collaboration for the enterprise, we look at the importance of UC architecture in supporting mobility. Nemertes Research analyst Philip Clarke discusses how enterprises can evaluate the strength of their unified communications technology strategy before implementing mobile collaboration.
Creating successful architecture for unified communications technology to support mobility requires answering the following questions:
- Where are you on the technology curve? Do you want to deploy the latest and greatest technology for competitive gain, or do you prefer to deploy more established technologies? Each approach carries risk. Your answer will depend on your overall attitude toward adopting new technology and how you balance risk with potential gain.
- Should I use on-premises or cloud/managed services? Where should the management of my mobile UC product live? What about my apps? Who should manage them and to what extent? Companies integrate a mix of on-premises, hosted and managed services as part of their UC strategies. While many organizations keep their systems on-premises, supporting technologies like mobile device management, mobile application management, software-defined radio, directory services and others can live in the cloud. Your decision will likely reflect your response to outsourcing tactical operations, and confidence in carriers and cloud service providers to maintain uptime similar to your internal levels, as well as to be sufficiently responsive to your changing needs.
- What is the cost and benefit of the technology? Are there clear benefits to the technology? In most cases, the answer is "yes," but there are certain instances where companies don't use much in the way of mobility or UC, for that matter. Bolstering UC functionality specifically for mobile devices is dependent on the amount of mobility access your workforce uses and prefers. Even the most conservative companies that used nothing but BlackBerry a few years ago have already made a complete transition to include other operating systems. What business processes can you improve and in what ways? What costs can you reduce or avoid? Your answers will define your ability to translate your unified communications technology investment into tangible business benefits.
- How do I get there from here? How can the services you are buying for tomorrow integrate into what you have today? Defining the current and roadmap technologies that are affected by UC services will help describe which systems are affected and to what extent. You can then look at what can be done to reduce negative effects and enhance positive ones. Should it be a rip-and-replace effort or a gradual migration? Replacing UC infrastructure can be done gradually, especially if the infrastructure is in the cloud and supporting apps are available through an app store. During the transition time, however, you may not be able to make all the desired functionality available throughout the infrastructure. The extent of functional impairment and the risk introduced therefore has to be evaluated.