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The challenges of implementing Unified Communications (and how to overcome them)

When was the last time you considered the efficiency of your communications platforms? If you’re currently using more than one platform, product or provider to meet your communications needs, the chances are, they’re probably not as effective as they could be.

Implementing Unified Communications (UC) – that is, an integrated solution that combines voice, email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and data services – is an obvious solution for improving efficiency (and boosting staff productivity), especially for smaller businesses looking to simplify and streamline their communications platforms. UC can dramatically improve communication between employees, and between the business and its customers.

But combining your communications platforms in the switch to UC isn’t always straightforward. In fact, it might even require a major overhaul of your communications platforms – which is a big step to take. Perceived challenges of this include:

  • The risk of a new platform being too expensive
  • Concerns about the agility of the new platform
  • The difficulty of phasing out legacy infrastructure
  • Fears about a new system being too complicated

And these concerns are all the more pressing for SMEs, who may not have an in-house tech team on hand to support them through the process. The good news is that none of these challenges are insurmountable. In fact, many of them are based on misconceptions about the availability of modern UC platforms. Read on to discover why bringing together your communications into one UC solution might not be as tricky as you think…Will implementing UC be too expensive?

Implementing UC can be a big overhaul, and if you’re running a smaller organisation, it’s understandable that pricing will be a serious point of concern. Traditional ISDN-based PBX systems do tend to come with higher line rental costs, which is why UC solutions like SIP Trunking are ideal.

This next-generation technology works over data connections like broadband and internet, which is a much cheaper way of working. As an added bonus, you won’t face large costs for installing new ISDN lines to increase capacity. Plus, once your UC system is in place, it’s likely you’ll benefit from lower monthly payments, because you’ll be working with one supplier rather than juggling multiple relationships.

Will it be complicated to set up?

SMEs are nimble, agile, and reactive. But they’re not usually in possession of a large, in-house IT department. This can make implementing UC feel quite daunting, especially if you’re considering doing so by maintaining an IP-PBX onsite. This method of hosting involves creating and managing extensions, installing additional hardware, and configuring handsets – not to mention the day-to-day management.

A cloud-hosted solution represents a great way to overcome this challenge. In-house support requirements are minimal, additional capacity can be added over a web interface, and hosted configuration means you can ‘plug in and go’. Plus, with a hosted office phone system like Gamma Horizon, management of the call routing system lies with your provider – leaving you free to get on with what you do best: driving your business’ success.

Will replacing legacy infrastructure be too much of a hassle?

You might wonder if it’s a case of ‘better the devil you know’. For example, if you’re currently operating over an older ISDN network, switching to UC may seem like too much hassle.

However, the reality is that these systems aren’t just outdated – they’re rapidly going to become obsolete. BT has announced plans to switch off its ISDN networks entirely in 2025. In light of this, replacing legacy infrastructure isn’t a challenge as such – it’s a necessary step all businesses will need to take. But don’t worry too much – replacement options like SIP trunking can be installed quickly and with minimal disruption, forming the foundation for UC implementation.

Will it be agile enough to keep up with a growing business?

As an SME, you need agile communication solutions that grow with you, instead of holding you back. You may therefore be concerned that a new platform won’t meet this need.

But while this could be true of your existing ISDN-based communications system, UC solutions can be delivered over a cloud-hosted platform that’s as flexible as you are. For example, many SMEs experience peaks and troughs of business. With a cloud-based platform, you can scale up or down as needed. Likewise, many SMEs want to support mobile or flexible working. With a UC platform like SIP, calls can be rerouted at the touch of a button. UC also allows you to link fixed office phone devices with mobiles, meaning your staff aren’t tied to any one location – so all in all, implementing UC is actually likely to be the one of the most flexible moves you’ll ever make.

From SIP trunking to cloud-hosting, opportunities outweigh challenges

The challenges of implementing UC are not to be sniffed at, but the opportunities offered by bringing together your communications tools far outweigh the concerns. Whatever your concerns are, finding the best UC solution involves carefully considering the options available – and working with an experienced provider that can offer a full suite of integrated products is a wise place to start.

To find the right Unified Communications system for you, take a look at our short guide for advice.