Be Proactive in your UC Strategy & Roadmap
“Over 80% of enterprise investments in UC [Unified Communications] component projects will not be guided by a governing UC strategy and roadmap.” Gartner, November 2011 “Predicts: 2012: Successful UC Deployments Depend on Defining Organizational Objectives and Understanding Challenges”
After you get over your disbelief of that statistic and let it marinate a bit, think about your own work and your own projects. Is there an overall UC Strategy? How many of your projects bubbled to the top of the list because of some sort of urgent need from the C-Suite? How many projects became “top priority” because something else was broken and the cascading affect created the current dumpster fire? How many “code red” projects moved up in priority because they were the project that screamed the loudest at the time? In contrast, how many of your initiatives were truly driven by a strategic approach to your vision for your company and your department? According to Gartner, less than one in five UC projects were driven by Strategy and Vision. It seems we all spend most of our day putting out fires rather than BEING PROACTIVE.
All Unified Communications projects are competing for two very scarce resources: your time and your network bandwidth. For most companies, the available network bandwidth is limited; consequently there are going to be conflicts in which services get priority. Voice, data, video conferencing, chat, IM, presence, streaming, mobility, and WiFi are all competing for the same physical infrastructure – the pipe that connects all those 1’s and 0’s to the internal and external networks we can no longer live without.
In Biology, this competition between species (or in this case modes of communication) is called Interspecific Competition. As species compete for limited resources, one species eventually dominates and the others go extinct. While it is not likely that IM would ever go extinct, per se, it is very likely that Video Conferencing or YouTube Streaming could monopolize so much of a network’s bandwidth that voice quality would suffer. Eventually the VoIP system would become unusable. If you think this isn’t possible, think again. We have consulted with many companies who have users – particularly remote workers or road warrior types – that have completely abandoned their company’s VoIP system and just exclusively use their cell phones. Interspecific Competition is happening right now inside your UC closet. The worst part is, you may never know that your users have stopped using your infrastructure and are using their own work-arounds.
The Quality of Experience for voice must be protected. When the “Internet” is running slowly, or a file doesn’t download quickly, we see those problems as typical inconveniences we have learned to live with. However, if a voice call is clipping or has some static, we simple cannot communicate and become immediately frustrated. The threshold of tolerance for voice quality problems is extremely low.
Proactive management of the network and all the components that affect unified communications is critical to ensuring that all of the competing services get they bandwidth they need, but not at the expense of the other services. Without a UC Strategy and a UC Roadmap, CIO’s will have a hard time knowing when they are working on an urgent need of the moment and when they are working on the strategic vision of the company.
Unless we learn to be proactive in managing our scarce resources, the network will eventually crash. Not all crashes are equal in size and ramifications, but ultimately more users and more services on our already taxed networks will lead to some sort of disaster. If the disaster is serious enough, the laws of nature dictate that the result could be your extinction.
This is the first in a series of seven blogs about the 7 Habits of Highly Successful Communication Managers.