A Fundamental Difference
Perhaps the most fundamental decision an organization faces -- besides the basic choice of whether or not to deploy UC -- is whether to build it upon the telecom or LAN infrastructure. UCStrategies' Marty Parker offers an excellent brief tutorial on the topic, which will have both technical and workforce ramifications.
The crux of Parker's presentation is that enterprises roll out UC in two ways. They either append the technology to the organization's telecom infrastructure or to the local-area network (LAN).
To end users, this means nothing. But it means a lot to the IT and telecommunications departments. Parker points out that firms in which the majority of the action is stationary and voice-based – with perhaps some UC-related activity thrown in – are best advised to stitch the UC functionality to the PBX. This is controlled by the telecom side of the house. On the other hand, teams that need more mobile and collaborative capabilities are better off locating the UC stack on the LAN side, alongside the e-mail server and similar equipment.
The other impact is a bit more subtle. In the olden days, IT and telecom were two separate and discrete entities. Personnel from the two departments mainly saw each other in the lunchroom and on the company softball team. Before the ascendancy of IP, the two groups ruled their own roosts. Now that the world has adopted IP, the two departments have fought for preeminence.
Tying the unified communications stack to the PBX or the LAN could well be perceived as a vote for either one or the other department, especially by the people who work in each area and likely are prone to worry about the overall standing of their company and, ultimately, their jobs. This shouldn't drive the decision, of course – but it is a dynamic of which executives should be aware.