Converging opportunities

As new technologies and economies of scale help to bring services such as VoIP, mobile, and fixed-line closer together, converged services are becoming a more viable business opportunity for telecom operators. Nidal Abou-Ltaif, managing director of Avaya's Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey operations explains how telecom operators can benefit.

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By  Administrator Published  April 29, 2008

As new technologies and economies of scale help to bring services such as VoIP, mobile, and fixed-line closer together, converged services are becoming a more viable business opportunity for telecom operators.Nidal Abou-Ltaif, managing director of Avaya's Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey operations explains how telecom operators can benefit.

Much is heard about convergence and "unified communications" - but what exactly is it?

Unified communications is the buzzword of today, and almost every enterprise is devising strategies to incorporate it into their organisation. The very idea behind unified communications is to unify the various channels of communications of a user or a business.

Avaya defines unified communications as the convergence of real-time and non-real-time business communication applications - breaking down barriers in communications and allowing applications such as telephony, conferencing, email, voice mail, instant messaging, video, to collaborate across a variety of interfaces, be it PC or web-based clients, telephones and mobile devices, or speech giving users a unified access over any device.

And how can converged services help businesses in the region?

Unified communications, by its very nature, will change behaviour and the way people communicate. It helps businesses easily and effectively connect their people, customers and processes, and can greatly benefit enterprises or small to medium sized businesses.

It brings together multiple business communication applications into a single, seamless experience to enhance employee collaboration and customer responsiveness and above all, mobility.

These solutions can help businesses become more customer focused, increase business agility, improve productivity, profit and efficiency. It can also help lower communication expenses, in addition to reducing business risk and supporting business continuity.

In today's fast-paced world, mobile employees need to be productive while on the go. Even when travelling, they need to communicate with customers, partners, and colleagues quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively.

Unified communications can help mobile workers stay in touch, and unified communication solutions bring these applications into consolidated easy-to-use interfaces to provide "intelligent access" - embedding communication into what people do as they do it.

Are regional telecom operators offering unified services? Is it a valuable business opportunity?

The need for unified communications in the Middle East has become a pressing business concern due to a number of market dynamics, and a growing number of businesses in the Middle East are looking to deploy a unified communications strategy.

While telecom operators have begun to offer triple-play for purely entertainment purposes, it will be a while before unified services make it to their service list. Unified communication is a lucrative business opportunity, and Avaya is geared up to support telecom operators when they finally decide to venture into offering such services.

How can a company implement such a system?

Abou-Ltaif: Unified communications is a significant step forward for organisations wanting to provide their employees with intelligent communications systems and maximise their investment. There are three main phases to implement a unified communications solution: planning, design, implementation and integration.

Based upon employee profiles, current communications analysis and desired communications state, recommendations are provided within a business case. The very first stage of implementation is to assess and identify a set of needs and requirements to be addressed, and the existing infrastructure.

This is the most important step as it lays the foundation for the success of the solution. The next step is to design the solution to suit the existing infrastructure, then implement the unified communications capabilities and integrate the applications to streamline workflow.

Business priorities will determine the pace and implementation order of unified communications capabilities. Once these phases are complete, businesses can expect ongoing support and maintenance for their unified communications solutions.

The solution does not have to be implemented as a single project. Rather, implementation occurs as a series of initiatives all coming together under a single vision.

Typical starting points include mobility, telephony on the PC, computer applications on the telephone, unified messaging, enterprise instant messaging integration, unified conferencing, and video.

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