unified communications

Investing in hosted communications? Here’s how to make the right choice.

Investing in communications technology can be a lot like buying a car.

Although you’ve invested time and money in the autonomy to drive anywhere, at any time, you have also bought the responsibility of the maintenance and periodic repair of the car, and when it breaks down entirely it’s expensive to replace it. Which is why buying a beaten-up old jalopy for a long road trip is a bad idea.

20 amazing ways that Hosted Voice services can transform your communications

Cloud collaboration tools, social networks, shadow IT, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, remote and mobile working – all these trends are converging and leaving enterprises with more complexity and less oversight and control of their communications than ever before.

And when you lack that oversight and control, you don’t know where your business is making mistakes. You don’t know where improvements can be made.

The time is now.

Hosted email: it's a buyer’s market

With hosted email steadily becoming the defacto way in which email is delivered to organisations, the market has become saturated with varying providers that offer sliding scales of technology, service and pricing.

Traditionally the hosted email market was the preserve of service providers who partnered with vendors to deliver their service. Increasingly, the growth in the market has seen vendors choose to enter the market directly. The likes of Google, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco and VMware all have direct market offerings.

Such strong vendor presence means that it has become a buyer’s market. Google and Microsoft are increasingly turning what was a cold war into a hot war competing aggressively for small and enterprise business. This has also meant that the traditional service provider market is trying to adapt its commercial model to ensure they are competitive with the market's big beasts.

However, there are number of things that mean that vendors don’t necessarily understand the requirements of the mass of businesses that sit in-between the very small and the very large. Put simply the mid-market is poorly served by vendors. Their inability to focus on migration and service means mid-market customers are left to figure out how they can shoehorn this vendor platform into their business.

Before considering a unified communications project ask yourself these 3 questions

I heard a statistic from a leading vendor last week that said 80% of all unified communications projects fail. As someone who tries to help organisations truly embrace the transformational opportunity that exists with UC I was shocked by this statistic.

The biggest problem I see for those 80% of UC projects is that it is seen as a technology initiative. It isn't. Technology is of course key, but a successful unified communications project must consider so much more than infrastructure, servers and software.

To ensure your project is truly transformational you must look outside the technology and at how this project will and should affect people, process and communication. I believe many projects fail before they start, but asking some very basic questions can avert this:

Kicking the mid-market into the cloud

The mid-market is a great opportunity for any new technology and no doubt we have all seen the J curves for future uptake of cloud services, just as we saw them for mobile, VOIP, smart phones etc.

The bottom end of the market has engaged - with little choice - based on low cost or free offerings; while enterprise organisations can pay for whatever fits a business case and can show an ROI within 36 months.

Claranet integrates Star services

Following Claranet’s acquisition of Star in November 2012, we have been working hard to bring together the two companies as one. Our focus has been on aligning our people, processes and infrastructure in order to offer our customers an expanded portfolio representing the best services from both companies.

We are excited to have integrated Star’s services into the Claranet portfolio, and believe our combined expertise allows us to offer our customers a more diverse, competitive and stronger array of services. Star’s strong offerings around Unified Communications are complementary to our core service groupings. The portfolio now covers hosting, networks and communications.

The 451 Research take on Claranet

Claranet are the focus of a recent report from technology analyst 451 Research, evaluating the managed service provider’s eventful 2012 and assessing its prospects in 2013. Inevitably it highlights Claranet’s £60m worth of acquisitions in 2012: in July, Portuguese service provider Cgest, UK based MSP Star Technology Services - the largest acquisition - in November and finally French web and open source hosting services company Typhon in December.

The report explains that Claranet now boasts a combined total of 4,700 customers, 19 datacentres (in six European markets), and annual revenues of over £120m, which ensures Claranet ‘has leapfrogged many of its nearest rivals, earning a place in the top ranks of the European hosting business.’ The report's author, Rory Duncan, writes that aside from increases in revenue, customer base and datacentres, these acquisitions also give Claranet additional technological capabilities.

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