Channel Partners

SEP-OCT 2013

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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> SOLUTIONS <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< By aRt WIttMaNN DISCUSS ON TWITTER: #collaboration #conferencing #uc STARTING A uC PROjECT RIGHT F or many business customers, implementing UC and a VoIP-based PBX are all part of the same project. For those whose TDM PBXs just keep chugging along, it's often the UC features that will seal the deal on a conversion. But that doesn't mean that all UC implementations are the same. It's important for channel partners to help clients get the most of their UC systems with the proper preparation upfront with discussions in the following areas: Establish Overall Purpose. Take time to help them understand what they want UC do for their company. Perhaps they've decided that the variety of free instant messaging systems in use around the company is a bad idea; or perhaps they want to encourage more desktop conferencing now that desktop and laptop computers commonly have cameras; or it could be that sales teams really need a unified inbox function that can be accessed from a variety of devices. Whatever it is, work with your client's business stakeholders to get their priorities down and stick to them. UC can be a journey rather than a destination; rolling out the most desired features first is usually a good way to encourage user participation. Set Feature Priorities. Along those lines, consider that most UC systems don't include every form of communication over every single device that 16 ChaNNel paRTNeRs SEPt/OCt 2013 users might have. As a result, it may be better to bring in another service for some specialized purposes such as audio or Web conferencing, rather than trying to force it all into one UC system. Feature bloat can make systems harder to use, so you should advocate simplicity — after all, in a very real sense, the UC is competing for users' attention/acceptance with Skype, AOL Instant Messenger, FaceTime, iChat and other free services users have on their laptops, smartphones and tablets. In other words, if you expect users to watch an hour or two of recorded video tutorials, you're heading down the wrong path. Chances are the system that requires that kind of training will never get the use your ROI models require. So keep it simple, and don't include every feature known to mankind. Some UC functions simply aren't heavily used. Consult stakeholders in your client's organization to prioritize. Understand User Preferences. You also should take the time to understand the culture of your users. Parts of the company may have an email culture where exchanging a hundred emails a day isn't out of the question, while other parts may have more of a phone-centric culture — e.g., engineers may prefer email while sales teams spend more time on the phone. The choice of a UC system will need to consider such preferences. Identify Potential Providers. Depending on what you consider to be part of a UC system, Cisco and Microsoft aRt WIttMaNN Art Wittmann is a freelance technology journalist with more than 20 years of experience in high-tech publishing. Most recently, he was the director of informationWeek Reports, where he oversaw both the business and content of informationWeek's research and reports business. During his career, he also was editor-in-chief of Network Magazine, it Architect and Network Computing. Prior to his work in it journalism, Wittmann was associate director of the Computer Aided Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. @artwittmann

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