Unified Communications - Is Your Network Ready?
September 24, 2014

Beatrice Piquer-Durand
Ipanema Technologies

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Through offering enterprises greater efficiency, connectedness and flexibility, Unified Communications (UC) software has become one of the most readily adopted technologies of the past five years. The growing millennial workforce expects remote-working and mobile connectivity as a standard component of the modern workplace, and UC presents a prime opportunity for management to supply their tech-savvy employees with the tools they need for maximum productivity.

UC technology promises to cut down on business travel; further reducing telecommunication costs and maximizing employees’ productivity and collaboration to enhance companies’ competitive edge. A recent survey from Network Instruments confirmed that since 2009 enterprise use of UC applications has roughly doubled, with the greatest growth being the utilization of video conferencing (27% - 63%).

However, the allure of connectedness and high definition video-conferencing technology comes at the cost of huge strain on the business network, often to the extent that many networks are simply not equipped to deal with the demands.
The millennial workforce that business leaders looked to inspire and motivate become exasperated by slow, inefficient delivery of UC applications; particularly bandwidth-heavy features such as audio & video conferencing, screen sharing and instant messaging. This ultimately leads them to give up on the service altogether and bring their own applications onto the network to get the job done, potentially slowing down the network even further.

Dreams of lightning-fast videoconferences with the Hong Kong office are marred by poor image quality and lag, making the whole experience unproductive and awkward.

Although this could be solved through the acquisition of more bandwidth for the network, this is an expensive, inefficient route, which garners no improvement in network performance, and many IT managers will be understandably wary having already invested in an expensive service. Enterprise-wide UC deployment doesn’t come cheap, and if not fully adopted then the cost-saving benefits won’t outweigh the deployment costs.

The key to ensuring the worthwhile investment in UC is having a network infrastructure with enough automation, flexibility and visibility (on a granular level) to automatically adapt to the shifting demands placed on it by UC applications. IT managers can then see in significant detail which applications are causing the network slow-down and prioritize those bandwidth-hungry, business-critical apps in real-time, ensuring that you get the most out of your UC package.

If your business is looking to deploy a UC service in the future you should act with caution. Look at the state of your network and consult your IT manager. If they don’t have full visibility over the network and the ability to prioritize on a granular level, then you may be investing in an expensive headache.

Béatrice Piquer-Durand is VP of Marketing at Ipanema Technologies.

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