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Getting a Contact Center Implementation Right By Dennis Goodhart

In my last No Jitter post, "Digging In to the Contact Center Obsession," I discussed the impact, influence, and necessity of contact centers in today's business world. Now, with the help of my associate Cheryl Helm (fellow SCTC member), it's time to take a practical look at critical factors to consider when implementing a new contact center or migrating to a cloud or hybrid contact center.

As consultants, we adhere to a very strict code of ethics that, among other practicalities, ensures our vendor neutrality. So, for this article no specific vendor names will be mentioned, although some examples cited may be vendor specific.

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When to Turn Your POTS into PANS By Dan Aylward

Incumbent Local Exchange Providers (ILEC) are not shying away from moving services away from the legacy Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) ... nor should any No Jitter readers be surprised of this enormous network phase out. However, this does beg the question "When should you disconnect all of your Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) and move to the Pretty Amazing New Stuff (PANS)?"

Voice over IP (VoIP) and cellular are established options for voice communications and the most used form of communication whether we like the Quality of Service (QoS) or not. But what about essential analog services that are not used for voice? Let's address some examples.

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IoT: Connect Everything, Segment Everything By Dan Aylward

We live in a world in which new technology solutions seem to emerge every day -- and the pace of innovation is rapidly accelerating. In 2017, we saw tech game-changers like self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT) really start to take off.

IoT, in particular, is a major disruptor in the telecommunications industry, enabling devices and sensors to 'talk' to each other without human intervention. IoT is being leveraged practically today, for example, to monitor moisture levels in soil or to trigger an alert and video stream when someone rings your doorbell. A consumer may be walking by a retail shop and receive a custom sale alert to his or her smartphone -- this is IoT in action.

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Help! They're Taking Away My POTS! By Dan Aylward

A funny thing has happened while we've all been paying attention to VoIP and SIP trunks. Those plain old telephone service (POTS) lines have suddenly become expensive circuits, and we don't have a bulletproof solution to replace all of them.

This is sort of like figuring out who you're going to ask to the prom. You spend your time and attention on the captain of the cheerleading squad, figuring you can count on the girl next door if that plan doesn't work out. The only problem is you didn't get your date with the cheerleader, and now you discover that your backup isn't available either!

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Why Do I Need a Desk Phone? By Dan Aylward

"Tell me again why I need a desk phone?" Such is the question I heard last year from a client after building up the value of using a communications technology consultant.

We were there to assist in designing the company's network infrastructure, redundancy, and business continuity plans. We discussed Wi-Fi coverage, cellular usage and needs, PRI contractual commitments, and features of the installed phone system. And after all the discussion, I got a polite but perplexed look asking the desk phone question.

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6 Secrets of Telecom Cost Reduction By Dan Aylward

Some of my peers aren't going to like me for giving you this information. These are the secrets I've learned and refined over the years working as a communications consultant on behalf of my enterprise clients. You'll find some of these tips are not rocket science, nor do you need a doctorate or even a specific skill set to accomplish them. But like anything worth doing you have to have an objective, and accountability to see it through.

There's a quote in the Bible I really like: "If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success." So, I hope this helps you sharped your ax!

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The Great Desk Phone Dilemma By Dan Aylward

I received a curious question from a client last year after being engaged by the company for communications technology consultancy services. We were there to assist in designing the company's network infrastructure, redundancy, and business continuity plans. We discussed their Wi-Fi coverage, cellular usage and needs, PRI contractual commitments, and features of their phone system. And after all the discussion, I got a polite but perplexed look from them, asking this question: "Tell me again why I need a desk phone?"

And I thought, "Wait a minute...this is a GOOD question."

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States Continue Down Convergence Path By Howard Feingold

For today's state governments, with their many agencies, vastly distributed field offices, and multiple networks, the integration of voice, video, and data into a single statewide network promises lower costs, improved collaboration, and enhanced security. But fragmented and often incompatible technologies, complex support requirements, and disparate policies and procedures across agencies are among the many challenges that can hinder the realization of these promises.

In this article, I explore how convergence of voice, video, and data into a single network can overcome these challenges.

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Smart Facilities Demand Converged Networks By Howard Feingold

Smart campuses and buildings and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the logical next phase of network convergence, which my consultant firm Technology Plus has been focused on for the last 20 years. As intelligence is added to everything from lighting to trash bins, the network is becoming the central nervous system for the physical environment.

Concurrently, users and employees expect network connectivity everywhere, self-service everywhere, and connectivity to every device and service. These two trends fuel each other, and the rate of change continues to increase. But who is responsible for these interrelated concerns in the design and construction process? One physical network may now support:

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Technical Projects: Eating the Elephant One Bite at a Time By Elizabeth English

We've all been held captive in meetings that should have lasted 30 minutes but instead dragged on for several hours while technical issues were hashed out in excruciating detail between two team members. You've also likely been in a meeting where one person sidetracks progress by launching onto a soapbox of issues relevant only to his or her department. Perhaps you've attended meetings for which team members have not adequately prepared status updates, thus hijacking and diverting the meeting into a black hole while the rest of attendees are reduced to observing work that should have been completed outside of the meeting.

With technical projects, team members from multiple divisions and disciplines are typically brought together into one meeting designated for reviewing project status, addressing larger issues, and communicating plans.

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Project Management: Eating the Elephant One Bite at a Time By Elizabeth English

Given the right tools and processes, can anyone successfully manage projects? Does it take a certain personality type to be an excellent project manager or can the skills needed be learned?

Last month I talked about making meetings more productive. This month's elephant bites will focus on the necessary skills and traits required to be a truly effective project manager.

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Taking a Holistic Approach to Business Continuity in UC By Elizabeth English

In Andrew Prokop's recent No Jitter article, "Peeling Back the SIP resiliency layers," he addressed some of the methods available to increase redundancy when implementing SIP solutions. I'd like to take this topic a step further and dive into the intricacies of business continuity for unified communications.

When implementing a unified communications platform in a multisite environment, designing for business continuity is an imperative for most organizations. Balancing the cost of a highly available solution against business requirements while understanding where the various redundancy options fit, is a challenge that plagues many ICT departments.

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You've Acquired a Company... Now What? By Elizabeth English

These days, the pace of organizational mergers and acquisitions is rapid. Once the ink has dried on the acquisition agreement, what steps are required to ensure a successful and secure IT transition? How does the acquiring company protect its existing and new assets, while ensuring the benefits of the acquisition are realized? Employees of both organizations will need to work together during the transition, while maintaining separate workflows.

One of the first things to consider when developing a tactical IT infrastructure transition plan is understanding how the acquisition is structured. For example, is one company purchasing the other in whole? In part? Are two companies joining forces as equal partners? The acquisition structure will drive the level of planning and security required.

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Planning for a Successful 'Carve Out' Acquisition By Elizabeth English

You've just been notified that your company is purchasing a large business unit from another company, and you've been placed in charge of moving the IT components to your organization without disrupting business and keeping all aspects of your organization secure. This type of arrangement is commonly referred to as a "carve out," and it requires extensive planning and forethought to navigate the complex, competing requirements.

Complicating and Uncomplicating a Carve Out

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6 Key Ways to Prepare for a Carve Out By Elizabeth English

A carve out acquisition, or when one company purchases a business unit from another company, is not a simple endeavor -- especially when considering the IT components. Carve outs involve moving IT assets from one company to the other, and can be complicated by IT systems that are shared across an organization rather than restricted to use by the business unit being acquired.

As we explored in the last post on this topic, "Planning for a Successful 'Carve Out' Acquisition," these sort of transitions require extensive planning and forethought to navigate complex, competing requirements, with a separate transition environment often created.

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Identifying the Hidden Challenges Facing IT Infrastructure By Elizabeth English

The main challenge facing IT infrastructure operating environments lies in the rapid advancement of technology and communications. The current industrial revolution is different from its predecessors in that the fundamental shift is a change in connectivity and communications, rather than technology.
 
Organizations are being faced with increasingly complex options, combined with an exceedingly rapid pace of advancement, making the landscape difficult to navigate. Technology that was previously premises-based is moving to cloud. Most organizations will be forced to make this transition for at least some applications on the near horizon. Equally interesting is the growth of edge computing as a strategy to move computing functions closer to applications and offload network traffic.
 

Checklist for a Successful Cloud UCC Implementation By Elizabeth English

Transitioning to a cloud-based unified communications and collaboration platform includes many moving parts. To ensure success, start gathering data and making decisions early in the process, and include client-side project management to oversee the project.
 
With any cloud UCC implementation, as the vendor selection process winds down and contract negotiations are in progress, your organization can take steps to reduce risk and cost -- not to mention ensure that the project proceeds quickly once it gets under way. Some of these steps can, and should, start well in advance of implementation kickoff. Here are some key points to keep in mind on your cloud UCC journey.
 

We Must Re-Think the Business Process By Barbara A. Grothe

As an independent technology consultant, I have been advising clients and giving vendor-neutral options on technology for the past 28 years. In this article I wish to share with you our past experiences of why enterprises need to know the importance of proper planning and preparation when making any technology change.

In the early days of my career it was all about providing an apples-to-apples comparison of PBXs (how each box compared to the other box; how many different feature sets one had over the other; the pros and cons of each, the limitations, strengths and weaknesses, etc.).

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A Tale From the Telecom Trenches: Expect the Unexpected By Barbara A. Grothe

Sometimes, no matter how prepared you might be for an IT project, you find yourself facing challenges you never could have imagined. Take, for example, the situation we encountered recently working on a project for one of our retail clients.

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Deskphones: Going, Going, Not Gone Yet By Barbara A. Grothe

Well it's 2015, and what is the future trend for deskphones in the enterprise? I have polled consultants in the U.S. and Europe to see what the reality is on this topic.

From the US Perspective:
It is my opinion that deskphones in the enterprise are dwindling in their usefulness. I say this because I have had two deployments now where they went with no deskphones -- just headsets and using the client application on the laptop/PC. (See "What ... No Deskphones?").

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