Step 1

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2007-11-13 Print this article Print

: Find a Champion"> Step 1: Find a Champion To be successful, UC should not be viewed as a technology project but rather as a technology-enabled business initiative, with clearly defined goals and quantifiable measures of success. "Increasingly, what we are seeing with the next-generation workplace is that it is a business change process," said Kevin Bellinger, Avanades global solution manager for digital collaboration. "[Unified Communications] is being initiated by the business side—not the IT side."
To get there, senior leadership of any UC project is essential—to keep the project focused in terms of cost and scope, and to keep it on target to meet the underlying business objectives.
"The higher you get the sponsor, the better," said Frank Redey, a partner with Accentures Network Service Technology line. "If you could link [a UC initiative] to a C-level objective—of revenue generation, cost reduction or risk mitigation—you can demonstrate the solution value and increase shareholder value." Mergers and acquisitions are prominent driving forces toward UC, which is frequently pursued both for tying together disparate networks and user groups and to rapidly speed the progress of pending moves. Both of these circumstances are senior-level concerns. During a joint conversation with Redey and Bellinger (Accenture and Avanade are both partners to Microsofts UC initiative), and in a separate discussion with Christopher Thompson, senior director of solutions marketing for Ciscos Unified Communications group, eWEEK Labs heard several strong examples of executives driving UC projects. In each case, senior executives drove the technology project to advance business goals—whether the project was initiated via a human resources department looking to reap the benefits that come with improved collaboration among its staff members; a sales manager looking to present an identical set of tools and experiences for salespeople, no matter their location; or a CFO looking to reduce occupancy costs by overprovisioning a workplace through flexible work space and a mobile work force. Likewise, a project champion will help keep the project on target, not losing sight of the business-goal forest through the technology trees. "Customers get enamored with techno-babble," Thompson said. "If they believe they can create this glitzy application that everyone will use, it is almost always a nonstarter." Bellinger agreed: "Unified communications is complex, but you could wind up with something complex to the end user that doesnt meet business needs. Fit the tech to meet your business needs, not the other way round." Read here Bill Gates thoughts on how far we have to go on the communications front. C-level stewardship is also vital to later bridging the divide between the IT silos ultimately responsible for implementing and maintaining the project. UC implementations are massively complex, with technologies reaching into many distinct areas of IT. In a fully realized deployment, UC will touch the network, directory services, core messaging infrastructure, and desktops and mobile devices. And as the project develops, UC will also have implications for applications and their development teams. Marshaling all the disparate IT factions responsible for these technologies and resolving arguments over ownership of elements of the project may seem daunting, but with the right leadership—espousing a business plan with tangible objectives and clearly defined areas where cooperation is vital—it can work. In the end, it boils down to many new applications over IP, and everyone on the team just needs to recognize that. Lastly, senior leadership in terms of adoption of the technology will set the example for the rank and file. "Get the executives and senior people on board, and they will drive adoption down," said Bellinger. Page 3: Step 2: Remember the Users

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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