Improving ROI Through UC Device Management
Unified Communications (UC) has brought a slew of new capabilities to the modern workplace, increasing the flexibility, mobility, and functionality of workers through devices such as advanced UC headsets and audio conferencing solutions. These tools allow office workers to collaborate and communicate more seamlessly while they move through their spaces more freely, with fewer distractions. Yet, these productivity-boosting capabilities come with the challenge of managing these devices, a task that often falls on the shoulders of busy IT teams.
The ability to track, configure, and continually update a multitude of devices, as well as address the associated security compliance issues, is a laborious and time-consuming effort for highly specialized IT managers, especially when configurations and updates must be deployed on each individual device throughout an organization. IT professionals traditionally focus their expertise on maintaining back-office systems, servers, and data networks, yet many now have the added responsibility of managing and monitoring an array of solutions dedicated to the company’s UC infrastructure.
Device management was rated as a major concern of IT departments, according to an international survey report from services vendor Ipswitch* on controlling IT complexity. A majority of IT professionals expressed apprehension about the loss of control over their environments when faced with the introduction of new technologies and devices on a regular basis. Resellers can leverage this when making a sale by offering device management solutions in order to control the increasing complexity in the modern workplace.
Sixty-six percent of the survey respondents felt that the growing complexity of IT environments has made their jobs more difficult. Such complexity diverts valuable IT resources away from core responsibilities, and toward administering an ever-expanding suite of UC devices which are sometimes distributed across multiple departments or branch locations. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they would welcome IT management software that offers more monitoring flexibility.
Advanced UC solutions are outstanding tools for increasing productivity in the workplace. Yet as these devices proliferate, IT departments must devote considerable time to trivial but necessary maintenance and support functions. To preserve the productivity gains that these sophisticated solutions deliver, resellers need to help organizations minimize that burden. Device management software helps maintain the operational cost-effectiveness of the UC deployments they offer.
UC device management improves ROI
An office full of UC devices, such as headsets and conferencing solutions, potentially requires IT professionals to travel from workstation to workstation, configuring devices, conducting software updates, tracking usage, or implementing security policies for each individual unit. Such exploits detract from the benefit of an advanced Unified Communications environment, lessening the gains these productivity-enhancing solutions were designed to promote.
A device management platform consolidates management of these many devices via a single interface. Updates can be strategically scheduled to occur whenever it’s most convenient for the organization, or even for the individual worker, affecting the least amount of disruption and downtime. Sophisticated device management platforms can also provide detailed visibility of both active and inactive devices, and produce reporting on device usage, allowing businesses to better manage personnel and gather insights on performance based on headset usage.
Resellers and managed service providers should seek to provide a device management system that is intuitive, accessible, and easy to administer, freeing-up the end-user’s IT personnel to maintain critical business technology functions. Cloud based device management tools allow IT managers to access the platform from anywhere with an Internet connection, so personnel can gain visibility into their device suites and perform management tasks at any time, on-site or off.
The user of the headset benefits as well. Device management software can potentially turn a headset and speakerphone into a simple plug-and-play solution, since the headset will be pre-configured and up-to-date the moment it’s connected to a workstation. Efficient device management software runs in the background, transparent to the worker throughout their day, except for notifications or periodic update information as dictated by the IT administrator.
Facing Security Challenges Head-on
Media reports have pointed out the urgency of security and compliance issues associated with device management, including Unified Communications ecosystems. When implementing a cloud-based UC environment, IT departments must make sure that all sensitive personal information transmitted via the communications network is kept secure and private. Therefore, a device management platform should avoid any transfer of sensitive data across a company’s unified communications headsets, and that data should never be shared or made accessible for other purposes.
Ideally, device management should be delivered via a secure, cloud-based, enterprise SaaS (software as a service) platform, such as Microsoft Azure or the Azure SQL/NoSQL databases. Systems that leverage these hosted platforms allow businesses to create flexible, easy-to-deploy UC environments, featuring solutions and devices that are always up-to-date, require less complex internal IT infrastructures, and are thereby more cost-effective all around. Remote devices are also subject to a high degree of security on the Azure platform. Sensitive data is stored via encrypted communication with a client on each user’s computer—even across multiple sites.
It’s the intrinsic goal of technology to enhance workplace environments, and unified communications technologies certainly accomplish that. Effective device management supports that objective, delivering streamlined, easy-to-administer visibility and secure management in a single interface. This helps unencumber IT professionals, while preserving the business owner’s ROI, better fulfilling the promises of unified communications technology, and creating a sales advantage for VARs selling to overburdened IT managers in the UC marketplace.
About the Author: Brian Brorsbøl is Director of Product Management at Sennheiser Communications A/S, the producers of high-quality headsets and audioconferencing technology for business environments. Sennheiser’s HeadSetup™ Pro Manager can help enterprises administer devices over a suite of Sennheiser headsets and speakerphones.
Edited by Mandi Nowitz