A recent announcement from the U.S. Army highlights just how valuable - and challenging - unified communications deployments can be.
As Federal News Radio reported, the Army revealed that it is pushing back its plan to deploy UC tools. This doesn't mean that the Army has become disenchanted with the technology. On the contrary, the Army continues to see UC as a priority. By delaying its implementation plans, the armed force will be better prepared to maximize its gains from these solutions.
The Slow but Steady ApproachAccording to the source, the Army previously intended to issue a UCaaS industry solicitation during fiscal year 2015 and to award a contract the following year. Now, however, the Army will release a request for proposals in 2016.
Speaking to Federal News Radio, Jeremy Hiers, the PEO-EIS project director for enterprise services for the Army, explained that the organization has been researching the UC market since 2014.
"What we got from that was that we still have a lot of homework to do," Hiers said, the news source reported. "The questions include whether we want one vendor to do all the capabilities or whether we want a mix of vendors and how we balance declining budgets and make tradeoff decisions in what we want to buy."
This is not an unusual epiphany. UC can deliver tremendous benefits to organizations of all kinds, be they public or private. However, the UC market is already large and growing, offering a huge range of options for any firm interested in UC. Choosing the ideal deployment is crucial to maximize the benefits of this technology. Considering the size and scope of the Army and its mission, the stakes for getting UC right are higher here than in the vast majority of cases.
Committed to UCIt is important to note that despite the delay, UC remains a key focus for the Army. Robert Ferrell, the Army's CIO, told Federal News Radio that UC is the organization's third most prominent IT priority, after data center consolidation and cloud migration. The Army understands that UC has the potential to deliver massive efficiency and productivity improvements, all while driving down telecommunication costs.
Furthermore, UC should be seen as a wide-ranging and long-term investment. Once the Army embraces UC, it will presumably rely on this solution for years to come. While this increases the need to go through the selection and deployment process slowly and deliberately, it also ensures that no major replacements will be needed in the near future. This is especially true when it comes to cloud UC, which can be improved without the need for on-site installation.