5. Devices and Device Independence: The actual devices that employees use for their daily communications are a critical-and surprisingly overlooked- are part of the buying equation. Choosing the right devices helps ensure that employees are as productive. As experience increases productivity, more and more companies are allowing employees to use their personal devices at work, which can significantly lower device acquisition costs, while giving employees the flexibility to toggle between personal and business identities.
6. Resiliency/Redundancy: Given the mission-critical nature of all communications networks, organisations are placing a premium on network availability and reliability. A system with no moving parts will reduce the risk of potential loss of business, revenue and customer satisfaction. While many providers recommend adding redundant hardware to maintain failure during outage, solutions that can do this via software can also significantly reduce both acquisition and maintenance costs. Enabling people to work more effectively from different locations makes the organisation less dependent on a particular facility's network infrastructure.
7. Third-Party Integration: It is likely that employees in your organisation use applications such as Microsoft Outlook every day. Finding a communications system that easily and reliably integrates with these applications (for example, employees automatically get an on-screen pop-up of information from Salesforce.com whenever a customer calls) will enhance and simplify communications, enabling greater employee collaboration and improved customer service, further leveraging current investments, lowering total cost of ownership.
8. Security and Networking: Just as important as the communication platform is the security and networking that surrounds it. Security in a collaborative environment demands a sophisticated, multi-layer defence. Today's data-focused security solutions are often not robust enough for the real-time, continuous, two-way traffic stream inherent in multi-protocol communications. They are often lacking the capability to dynamically correct connectivity issues or solve protocol interoperability problems.
9. Plug-and-Play Provisioning: If your organisation experiences frequent changes in the deployment of network assets to accommodate, for example, new employees, temporary employees or alterations in workspace configurations-plug-and-play provisioning may be an important requirement. Access to all pertinent information needed to get the devices operational is automatically enabled.
10. Comprehensive Support: The reliability of a total solution is in large part due to the reliability of the manufacturer. It's also important to note how well they bridge old technology to new and how they support customers. If your solution will be supported by an authorised reseller - check for the reseller's certifications on the products in the solution to ensure the partner you are using is well skilled in installation, implementation, and professional services. It's also critical to understand how the solution will be supported after it is installed. Options should include remote and on-site services, parts replacement and software upgrades (to keep your technology current).
Paul Chen is Senior Director, Product, Solutions & Innovation, Asia Pacific, Avaya.
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