Video conferencing and IM have almost made my office telephone obsolete. I realized this the other day when a coworker asked me for my extension, and I had completely forgotten. Throw in VOIP calls and web conferencing and I might as well unplug the thing and repurpose it as a paperweight (although I don’t go through as much paper these days either).

Enterprise video communication and collaboration has had this effect on many teams working remotely across the country. Communication is continuously evolving and my telephone just isn’t keeping up like it used to.obsolete_office_phone

TIME TO SELL YOUR OFFICE PHONE?

The telephone made rich voice communication possible from virtually anywhere at anytime. Thank the internet, multipoint video conferencing, IM and content sharing for extending that communication into full-on collaboration. We’re getting a glimpse of the age of unified communication(UC), but it’s still not as easy and simple as it should be… yet. There are a few things that need to happen before everyone in your company buries their office phones for good.

#1 Do you have video?

Make sure your UC strategy includes video conferencing. In this day and age, collaboration and productivity gains depend heavily on whether or not your organization’s is equipped to maximize video utilization. Sometimes, sending a few instant messages back and forth will cut it, but other times you’ll want to have the ability to jump on a video call with a few of your team members and present a new idea, or show them how to use a tool online.

Video combined with content sharing is the most effective means of collaboration in this day and age. Data and VOIP are necessary for some situations when guests need to call into the meeting, but considering the growth in video adoption, other solutions are sure to fall by the wayside. Much like our friend the telephone.

#2 Does your UC vendor offer a decent video solution?

Integrating video conferencing into a UC environment can be complicated for a large organization. It’s likely that in the near future, your UC vendor will offer a comprehensive UC solution that will include all of the necessary video conferencing functionality for effective collaboration. Right now, however, this can be a challenge and you should make sure your offer includes:

  • Better compression ratios
  • Higher quality images
  • Multipoint conference capabilities
  • Video calling inside and outside of the enterprise network
  • Firewall traversal
  • Content sharing

Video collaboration has been around for a while, so if your company already has a video vendor, you will need to make sure that you don’t lose any features with UC integration. Ensuring a smooth integration from video to UC may require additional IT resources – like professional services.

#3 What will the future hold?

Your organization is most likely involved in one of the three scenarios at this point:

  • Shopping around for a single unified communications vendor
  • Ready to repurpose legacy video equipment or integrate video into a unified communications strategy with new software or hardware
  • Looking for a solution to manage your expanding UC/video networks

According to a unified communications report from Logitech.com – out of 488 respondent, 70% say that they’re looking to implement a UC strategy and 36% of them say they plan on rolling out a UC strategy to 76% or more of their user base. In my opinion, video and IM are driving that demand in the collaboration department (which is every department).

In light of the growth of adoption, IT departments should anticipate the following issues:

  1. What’s my network capacity and how much bandwidth will I need in order to support growth?
  2. How do I get a good idea of ROI on our video / uc investment? Usage reports, utilization, capacity and trends.

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