One of the things our company prides ourselves on is our collaborative nature, so the concept of unified communications is especially attractive to us. It’s one of those buzz words you can’t escape lately, and it’s coinciding with our own need to integrate another office into our infrastructure, and it’s driving us to take a fresh look at how we communicate internally.
We took our first run at Unified Communications when we installed our current phone system. Unfortunately, we had barely gotten the effort off the ground when we encountered issues with new versions of Outlook and Internet Explorer. The unified messaging and unified communications apps were breaking down on us before we could even get users trained, and our vendor was telling us the solution was to delay upgrading our Microsoft apps. Since the drive to Internet Explorer 7 was largely driven by desire for increased security, we decided to give up on our initial attempt at unified communications. Furthermore, the unified messaging and unified communications apps themselves added another layer on top of what we were already using, and learning yet another app was not high on anyone’s list.
When I first heard about Microsoft’s entry into unified communications, the idea of using our existing apps and e-mail server for delivering these services had a great deal of appeal to me. We’ve been exploring this option for the past 6 months, and so far we like what we’ve heard. When we added a new office location recently, the final piece of the puzzle may have fallen into place. In the past, integrating a new office into our infrastructure meant that we pulled their phone system out and installed a new system which was compatible with our own. It was expensive and disruptive. The promise of being able to integrate different phone systems into a common telecommunications software back-end offers some huge advantages to an expanding company. Whether the reality lives up to the promise remains to be seen, but it certainly seems to be worth a look.
Stay tuned because we’re just getting started on this path, and I’m sure it will make for some interesting stories in the coming months.