Let’s face it – the Unified Communications (UC) industry is flooded with different vendors all promising they have the best solution for any type of communications need your enterprise may have. Although it’s good to have options, IT professionals can be inundated with so many choices and it is complicated to understand which UC solution or solutions best fits your needs. At its core, UC tools are supposed to be easy-to-use, drive worker productivity and ultimately streamline enterprise collaboration.
PGi understands the UC complexity of the industry today and the various of communication tools that can be proliferating within an enterprise. IT leaders may default to a single vendor to streamline their UC needs or select a multi-vendor approach to ensure that users can have access to different tools that solve specific problems.
Today, we’re looking at the pros and cons of a multi-vendor approach, and sharing some tips on how best to decipher if this strategy is best for your business.
- Although there are companies who can “do it all” in the UC space, the multi-vendor approach allows you to select the best product from multiple providers. Does your business need an easy voicemail and enterprise voice option? Do you need to empower workers with an easy to use audio and web conferencing tool? There are products out there that are best-in-class for their respective fields, so it’s critical for IT leaders to find and test these solutions to meet their specific needs. Finding these singular, strong pieces of technology allows you to incorporate multiple vendors into your tech stack, which ensures needs are being met and teams are receiving the best option to solve the problem.
- By having a multi-vendor mix, you encourage competitive pricing options from different solution providers. And by doing so, you can potentially stretch your budget by accepting bids from the most cost-efficient provider. Meaning, you can still obtain high-quality solution at a more budget-friendly cost. This also encourages more open communication with your vendors, which increases the level of service and support.
- This approach also allows enterprises to minimize risk and improve ROI. If an issue arises when a vendor changes their management/operations or has an unexpected monetary crisis, then companies have an easier time changing providers and responsibilities without having to deal with the cost implications. In fact, it’s estimated that companies, who choose this diverse supplier route, can expect over 133 percent growth in long-term ROI.
- Since the multi-vendor approach is time consuming, managing multiple financial workstreams may take more time and take you away from your day to day tasks – strategy, IT support, problem solving, product updates, training and ultimately partnering with the business to solve problems. By being constantly pressured with too many communication platforms, you risk losing time and money in these other key areas.
- Although you can affect bottom line price when selecting the multi-vendor approach, there are additional costs that are typically not thought about on the front-end. Hard costs are what you pay for up front, where as soft costs come as they relate to staff resources and hours of productivity. Operational fees, staff training costs, procurement efforts and system(s) management are all examples of additional financial soft costs on an IT’s communication budget.
- Having multiple vendors may mean that you’re hitting all the technology needs in your business, however, it may also mean more implementation and integration time is needed, which can be incredibly complex. If you are constantly rolling out new tools and/or product updates, then your daily responsibilities become more focused on maintenance and upkeep rather than tech optimization, shifting your focus away from other important tasks.
Deciding the Right Fit for Your Business
Ultimately, there are many ways to approach vendor management that can offer value for your enterprise. It comes down to understanding the core needs of your employees and what matters most for your business. Once you have established your employee needs and the business drivers, IT leaders must prioritize what to look for in a UC partner.
For example, employees who are disparate and collaborate on-the-go would probably need a strong mobile solution with easy access to meetings so that they don’t lose a beat. On the other hand, from a business standpoint, if you run a large, global enterprise then a conferencing solution, with many international access points, may be the best fit. Additionally, for companies looking to pursue a multi-vendor strategy, a vendor management group can be a strong choice to help take on all implementation and operational responsibilities. This approach can help reduce the time commitment and technical complexity the enterprise will face. Furthermore, it offers a single point of contact while delivering the benefits of the multi-vendor approach.
To find out more about what specific collaboration needs you may have and to help you determine your UC goals, take our collaborator quiz today.