Friday, October 12, 2012
Have you been in the market for a new vehicle lately or just checked out the latest cars on display at the dealership? If so, you likely saw vehicles that incorporate some cutting edge communications systems—including General Motors’ OnStar, Ford’s SYNC and Hyundai’s BlueLink. While these packages are tailored to the everyday needs of the average driver, tying in apps and voice control options to improve safety and convenience, they also increase productivity for mobile workers.
These computer-driven systems open and read email, offer turn-by-turn directions more responsive than standard GPS, check voice mail and text messages, and locate the closest ATM or parking garage. The latest versions even include an Internet “hot spot.” When connected to the user’s smart phone, it creates a mobile communications platform with all the functionality of a remote office.
Those capabilities may be leap years ahead of the technology in most cars on the road, but their value and flexibility are rather basic compared with the latest unified communications (UC) solutions. To get a maximum return on their investment, businesses have to get the greatest return possible on each of their investments and tech systems are no exception. UC can help businesses make the most of their communications and computer infrastructure, integrating a number of business tools with their normal phone features and applications.
The basic systems include instant messaging, presence information, VoIP, call control, video conferencing and speech recognition. When solution providers integrate these features with each of their clients’ critical business tools, it multiplies the value and speed of their entire infrastructure. For example, by typing in an organization’s CRM application, an incoming customer or prospect call could automatically pull up the account information. That improves response time and ensures that the person answering the phone has access to the latest information available to close sales or solve a problem.
One of the biggest hurdles facing widespread UC adoption is awareness and understanding. In a 2011 study conducted by CompTIA
, 80 percent of channel partners stated that further clarity was needed to improve the sales and marketing process. That research also showed that 49 percent of solution providers expected UC spending to exceed other IT expenditures, creating a great opportunity for those who could properly define and sell UC’s benefits.
The latest workplace trends continue to support the growth of UC, including increases in mobility and the remote workforce, IT consumerization, mobile device management, bring your own device (BYOD) and cloud computing. Each can create new opportunities for a solution provider business, as long as it has the technical skills and abilities to understand its clients’ business needs.
Those are all areas of focus for the CompTIA Unified Communications Community
. This member-led peer group has been actively engaged in designing and developing a number of UC-specific training and education programs
for the IT channel. The community is a great forum for solution providers looking to build a new practice with this expertise, as well as those looking to enhance their existing specialty operations.
The group portfolio is impressive, with materials describing specific opportunities available in UC-related areas and offering valuable tips on getting started. These materials include:
- Quick Start Guide to Unified Communications.
- Quick Start Guide to Audio-Visual Integration Opportunities.
- Quick Start Guide to Telecom and IT Partnerships.
- 10-Week Guide to Unified Communications.
Of course, attending group meetings – live or virtual – is also educational, with state-of-the-industry presentations and a myriad of networking opportunities. Interested in joining, or learning more about the UC Community? Contact Katherine Hunt at Kate.Hunt@CompTIA.org
.Brian Sherman is founder of Tech Success Communications, specializing in editorial content and consulting for the IT channel. His previous roles include chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com.