Unified Communications: Beyond Traditional PBX

communication.jpgThere are many “unified communications” solutions available in the marketplace from many vendors including Cisco, Microsoft, and IBM. Several applications fall under this umbrella including mobile and fixed phone communication (PBX and VoIP), voice mail, instant messaging, email, fax, and audio/video/web conferencing. The mix of service offerings for UC varies among providers, and it can be hard to compare apples to apples when shopping for a solution.
We asked Denny Michael, AVST’s Vice President of Marketing to share some details about when and what to consider when choosing a UC solution. (AVST’s CallXpress UC solution includes call processing, voicemail, unified messaging, fax, notification and speech-enabled personal assistant and automated attendants.)

When should a small business consider migrating from a traditional PBX or voice mail system to a UC solution?

Due to the fact that all major manufacturers have announced End Of Life plans for their first generation voicemail systems, there is no better time to start migrating to UC. AVST understands the full spectrum of costs involved in transitioning from a legacy voicemail system to UC, so we heavily invested in alternate user interfaces that emulate the command structure of companies’ legacy voicemail systems to minimize training. We also integrate into their existing network and telephony infrastructures and offer modular licensing – enabling companies can expand at their own pace.
What are the most important needs an organization should consider when selecting a UC solution?
AVST has always taken the approach that interoperability is the key to delivering UC solutions given two important realities that organizations face when evaluating UC solutions on the market: 1) Organizations have large investments in IT infrastructure and can’t afford to rip and replace all components at once 2) No single vendor effectively addresses all aspects of UC. Therefore it is best not to get locked into a single vendor solution that will prohibit you from deploying the best solution in each product segment. Consider asking your organization:

  1. What is the current status of the various UC components within the business? Which are already UC capable? Which need to be replaced by a UC capable solution?
  2. What are the business objectives you want to achieve by deploying UC?
  3. What are the relative priorities of the multiple UC components within the business?
  4. How does UC support your other IT initiatives – compliance, security, disaster recovery, etc?