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How can IT approach a cloud-based unified communications migration?

Migrating to cloud-based unified communications can offer organizations greater agility, but benefits need to be weighed against the loss of IT control.

Adopting cloud-based unified communication requires IT decision makers to consider several factors, which will vary from organization to organization based on IT's comfort level with cloud-based applications. Regardless of the migration path to cloud-based unified communications, IT should keep three factors top-of-mind.

1. Control versus agility. With on-premises technology, IT typically has full control of UC apps. Control has long been a source of power that IT uses to exert influence across an organization. On a practical level, control allows IT to effectively manage networks and ensure a good experience for end users. However, as the cloud makes technology more user-centric, IT has to relinquish some control, effectively diminishing its power base.

IT will have to make a choice, either focus on maintaining a broad level of control or prioritize keeping up with changing technology. Migrating to the cloud is the easiest way to stay current with new technology, and in most cases the loss of control is outweighed by the agility organizations gain with cloud-based unified communications.

2. Dictating the terms of migration. The one area where IT must maintain control is the migration plan. If not managed properly, vendors could end up dictating how the migration unfolds. Some vendors are cloud-only, which can create problems for organizations with valid reasons for wanting to keep certain UC applications on premises.

Because organizations are the customers, IT shouldn't compromise business needs based on what works best for a vendor. Cloud-based unified communications offers a variety of options for migration, and the choice of vendor partners should be tied to how well that vendor can support what works for an organization.

3. The changing role for IT. It may not be readily apparent, but the path to cloud-based unified communications will affect the role of IT. Primarily, IT will need to forge closer bonds with end users since a successful UC deployment will depend on end user adoption. Many cloud-based unified communications options offer freemium delivery that end users can access without IT control -- making it essential for IT to get user buy-in when rolling out a company-wide UC platform.

In addition, as IT relinquishes more of its power and control, decision makers will need to seek out new expertise to remain strategic. Cloud-based UC is still evolving and IT will need to be on top of upcoming technology trends.

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