Verizon Business Expands UC & Collaboration Consulting Service Suite

Ramps up offering of a wide range of services to help demystify UC planning and deployment, and ensure success.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Jan 21, 2010
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While businesses increasingly understand that up-to-date business communications technologies—unified communications and collaboration—can produce improved business efficiency and boost the bottom line, they don't necessarily see a clear path to deploying these technologies.

Verizon Business today announced an expanded suite of professional consulting services designed to help at every step of the way.

"They need help in understanding all of the issues that go along with ensuring success," Verizon Senior Consultant–UC&C Professional Services Mike Holtgrefe told Enterprise VoIPplanet.com. " What is the business case? How do you justify the investment? How do you measure success? How do you anticipate all the issues you'll face—not only in the deployment of the technology but changing the culture of the organization in order to leverage these new technologies?"

Holtgrefe went on to comment that many customers who have already "dipped their toe in the water of UC" aren't deriving maximum benefit from the technology, "because they just don't have a good, solid strategic plan that they're confident will return RoI."

Strategic planning is one of the pillars on which Verizon Business consulting services rest—identifying business objectives and existing processes to create a tailored UC&C (Verizon's shorthand for unified communications and collaboration) approach.

"The basic questions is How do I engineer success into my UC&C strategy from the get-go?" Holtgrefe said.

A second pillar is financial analysis: "How do I create a financial model that shows what my RoI will be? How do I maximize cost take-out?

The third pillar is operational integration—synchronizing all aspects of technology deployment, including design and platform integration, implementation, and migration, project management, analysis, and reporting. Verizon can even provide user training and adoption planning to facilitate and measure UC&C success.

"These services are designed to explore the depth of all of the UC issues customers are working with," Holtgrefe summarized. And a UC&C consulting customer actually has access to the resources "across the stack of Verizon professional services, into IT services and security, and on into our vertical solutions teams," he explained. "Within particular verticals—such as financial, health care, government, retail, and manufacturing—there are clear trends for applications and business processes that can be identified for improvement."

The practice delivers concrete answers to pragmatic questions: "How do I communications-enable my business processes? Leverage presence and mobility and video? How do I change the way workflow happens—working with vendors and customers? How do I enable my remote work force?

While most customers are larger enterprises, Verizon Business tried to build the service to be applicable to any size business.

"We pull from a standard methodology, a standard template of services that are offered," Holtgrefe explained, "but through the scoping session, we determine the actual scope and depth of the engagement that we will actually provide.

UC&C consultation services—which are available in the U.S., parts of Europe, India and the Asia-Pacific region—are available as Statements of Work—individually or as multiple-engagement bundles.

"We worked with a client recently—a major manufacturing entity—and engagements were performed serially," Holtgrefe told Enterprise VoIPplanet.

"Initially we helped them with a strategy engagement, to really define the business case around UC as it relates to them. They liked the output and realized they really had a need to understand at the user level how will these services impact workflow, how will they gain benefits at the business level as well, so we did a needs assessment as well.

"We then followed up with an architecture study to understand—given the company's corporate objective and the actual requirements at the business unit and user level—what are the architectures that make most sense for them? And we followed on then with a migration plan to help move it forward."

Services are also available by annual, quarterly, or monthly subscription. In other words, pretty much anything the customer needs or wants is available.

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