UC TODAY - Part 2: Assessing Current UC Environment and Future Needs

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In our first installment of UC Today, we established an outline for the course of this series, which discusses what to consider when making the switch to a Unified Communications (UC) platform. After deciding what your business needs for UC are, the first consideration then is to accurately assess your network usage through a Traffic Analysis.

Trying to determine your network’s existing environment without a Traffic Analysis can be overwhelming and time-consuming. An already costly situation like network restructuring or migration can be exacerbated by poor decision-making based on a lack of information.

Why buy more than you need to sufficiently cover peak usage?

Why create network problems with a system that lacks the capacity needed and leaves clients and employees frustrated?

With a Traffic Analysis, you will optimize the network by getting an accurate picture that details the trunks, hubs, routers, devices, services, and/or operating costs needed to carry out your business with peak performance. You will also be able to eliminate spending for network related assets that are no longer necessary.

While there are options for analyzing usage, Traffic Analysis as a Service is available to companies for short-term engagements to coincide with their overall project goals. This approach makes the option affordable to even small to medium sized businesses, while providing critical information required to properly complete the assessment. Although short-term snapshots are an option, the longer the analysis, the more panoramic the views of your traffic patterns; revealing more opportunities to fine-tune and optimize.

Traffic Analysis examines the bandwidth and trunk usage over a period of time and uses the data to discover true usage-based metrics such as:

  • Peak usage (concurrent call paths, peak hours and call volume)
  • Network inefficiencies
  • Existing network capacity
  • Security issues

With this information, you can feel comfortable knowing the bandwidth services you have will support your actual usage.

A company can use Traffic Analysis when there is a need for:

  • Conversion of conventional carrier trunks to SIP for scalability, flexibility, and cost savings.
  • Conversion from conventional telephony (PBX) to VoIP to lower costs and improve flexibility.
  • Consolidation of branch locations.
  • Company mergers; when two voice networks must be consolidated to eliminate redundancy.
  • Company downsizing that may result in excess bandwidth or charges made to mobile devices no longer in use.
  • Buying services from carriers with knowledge of call types, volume, and trends to get the most competitive prices.
  • Reducing long distance and international charges using your infrastructure, e.g., WAN, to bypass the public network as much as possible.

Now that we’ve identified some scenarios for a Traffic Analysis, the best way to identify network assets is through a Telecom Audit.

A Telecom Audit allows your company to make better business decisions by examining your invoices and automatically identifying services that your company is paying for, but not using.

Through an audit, you will get a snapshot of inventory and voice network infrastructure, as well as visibility into a wide variety of details, ranging from trunks and lines to devices on the voice network.

Specifically, a Telecom Audit works to identify:

  • Locations and services with suboptimal pricing plans
  • Closed locations where services continue to bill
  • Inabilities to track assets and services
  • Orphaned services with ongoing charges
  • Lack of control over employee expenses

A Telecom Audit will find billing errors, unnecessary services or misapplied taxes on your invoices, and find you “lost money” from being overbilled by your providers. By uncovering savings and refunds owed, an audit provides the awareness and transparency you need to create a plan for the future with an accurate view of spend across the enterprise.

The Traffic Analysis and Telecom Audit each has benefits of its own, but together they extract excellent intelligence about your company’s overall communications consumption and spend, and how to best manage your communications network going forward.

Once you have this insight into your enterprise’s network usage and spend, you can now utilize the information to assess the needs of your Unified Communications architecture and determine the requirements to run at optimal levels, using facts, not guesses.

Next, in part three of this series we will begin to address how to accurately report UC metrics and analytics.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.

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