An Approach to Transform Enterprise Communications Infrastructure
In my current role, I keep getting opportunities to transform UC infra of several customers globally. The discussion usually starts with a question “Why to transform”? Responses to this question are influenced by technology and business use cases. While technology used to be the driving factor in past… nowadays, it’s no more the primary factor. CIOs are increasingly looking to solve their business-related challenges through these transformations.
Listing down these objectives help you be definitive about the transformation mission. You can consider following set of objectives to begin with (but not limited to).
The best approach to address this dilemma is; first understand the business use cases (specific to industry), understand design and inventory of your current infrastructure, then to develop an enterprise communications architecture, and finally define a roadmap to address business use cases.
Defining business use cases is the key. The most important of all! How many type of users (persona) do I have? What type of users do they interact with? How much the communication impact revenue of the company? How does the communication experience help employees or customers use mainstream business workflows? How do we show value of intelligent communications to an end user? How do I improve user experience of end users? How can we integrate communications modalities into Business applications?
These questions should be discussed with stakeholders to get clarity. As an end result there should e a whitepaper on specific business use cases that must be or optionally addressed by next generation intelligent communications. Few example of use cases for a banking firm;
The next crucial phase is to understand what you already have in the environment. A detailed due diligence helps to identify list of devices, services, integration points, end users, licenses etc.
Based on this analysis, you should prepare list of observations & challenges. Some of these challenges could be;
• There could be redundant licenses. For example, end users are having E5 (or plus CAL) and voice license from Cisco at the same time.
• There could be isolated deployment of PBXs. Less CUG, more cost on calls.
• Absence of monitoring and diagnostic tool. Making operations of infrastructure complicated.
• Absence of a better analytics tool. Making it difficult to gain business intelligence about usage and trend.
• Limited or no cloud adoption. Making the environment possible an old school infra.
• Environment is not ready for Hybrid setup due to presence of legacy systems.
The enterprise communications landscape continues to change as products (services & devices) from several of the OEMs become available and mature. Each of the OEMs promise to increase business productivity, improve user experience, and improve integration of business workflows by providing an infrastructure that supports the rising technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Cloud (UCaaS) etc.
If a platform or combination of platforms meets the requirement of your business use cases or not must be the main influencing factor behind enterprise-wide communications strategy and vision. It must also ensure that the user experience improves multi fold.
The identified design should ensure that it helps your business meet digitization strategy (cloud, AI, VR etc.).
By now, you have the architecture ready. You know what platform or set of platforms are required to fulfil enterprise communications vision. It’s time to develop implementation roadmap. These could be on a timeline of 2-5 years depending on how your IT vision is planned and executed. I usually plan the events on following line.
Coming up with this timeline requires you to work with multiple stakeholders (external and internal). This would give your wheels a momentum that needs to be sustained and fuelled to accomplish your enterprise communications mission.