We recently heard of an odd comment from a vendor. As the source heard it, a prospective vendor recommended against plastic cabling trays “as they interfere with the signals.”

That is clear case of vendor FUD.  Or is it?

On one hand Plastic, especially PVC, absolutely can and does conduct RF over short distances.  To solve this,  placing RF shunts in-line for short cables, in the form of a ferrite core toroid or square with the cable reverse wrapped in two coils around the core to cancel the RFI.

On the other hand, I can’t for the life of me think of a large enough source of interference which would travel along a plastic tray to cause RFI.  Any such source would induce a signal around the cables’ plastic shells themselves before you’d have to worry about the tray the cables are in.

Verdict?

Vendor FUD. The customer should chase the vendor from the building and not validate his parking.

However enterprises place high-value on robust, scalable, network infrastructure for servicing voice, data, and video traffic.  Before implementing any change to your enterprise network, carefully define the requirements and deployment methods. For example:

  • Metal or wire cable trays must be grounded and bonded properly as improperly grounded/bonded cable trays can in some situations induce electron magnetic interfere (EMI).
  • Further, to minimize induced interference, don’t allow Category 5 (or other Cat cables) cables to cross power cables at right angles.
  • Likewise, don’t run telecommunications cabling in the same conduit or through the same metal stud opening as power wiring.
  • Be aware of the fire codes associated with the environment you are installing plastic cable trays in.  For example, plastic cable trays could be banned in many industrial settings as a fire hazard.
  • For any enterprise network deployment, use our  Structured Cabling RFP to ensure the deployed cable infrastructure provides the best options for maximizing utilization, scalability, and reliability of the network infrastructure.
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IT commonly explores Unified Communications to address infrastructure challenges, not necessarily business priorities (e.g. end of PBX support, high IT operational expenses). But business involvement is critical. Over 75% of planners report that the business does not understand UC – a key barrier to buy-in.

There is no simple ROI for UC, but if Unified Communications is right for your organization, Communications-Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) are where measurable gains from UC investment can be realized.

This can be seen in:

  • Improved customer response
  • Quicker first-call-resolution
  • Faster time-to-market
  • Reduced labor costs

Unified Communications benefits are inherently linked to feature adoption – effectively managing end user change is critical to UC success. You can drive user acceptance by focusing on three key areas:

  1. Awareness. Showcasing UC features and possibilities within the context of user information sessions – focusing on the value of UC in a business context – can help IT gain early mindshare and generate greater community interest in the technologies.
  2. Support. While most power users will find a UC toolset to be relatively intuitive, others will have difficulty acclimating. Designating enthusiastic power users as “resident experts,” can lessen the training load on IT – peers are also often the most effective learning resource.
  3. Feedback. Collecting feedback throughout the planning process can help IT anticipate future challenges and improve its approach to feature roll-out and training. Most tech-savvy users will be able to provide valuable insight around specific UC features and potential application to their daily tasks.

Change is the biggest issue with Unified Communications – if the end user isn’t willing to adapt or change is not managed effectively, it doesn’t matter how cool your collaboration tools are, they won’t be adopted. – Manager, Staffing Services

Once implemented, organizations are realizing a wide array of targeted Unified Communications benefits:

Benefits of Unified Communications

Primary UC benefits are in the areas of improved productivity and collaboration and are difficult to quantify. Though the ROI is elusive, organizations are reporting positive impact and high perceived value.

Be sure to communicate the long-term opportunities associated with Unified Communications and Communications-Enabled Business Processes to gain the business and executive buy-in required to move your UC initiative forward.

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Unified Communications The number of communications methods used in business keeps growing – voice, video, e-mail, instant messaging, Web conferencing. Integrating these methods and simplifying the end user experience promotes the best use of this expanding collaboration toolset.

Unified Communications (UC) is an approach to converging user collaboration tools and integrating real-time communications functionalities with enterprise applications, with the objective of eliminating common bottlenecks and accelerating key business processes.

UC is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Enterprises and vendors are moving in this direction but given the considerable investment required to deliver UC, very strong business rationale is necessary. Remember, unified communications isn’t a product – it’s an integrated approach to managing multimodal user collaboration and accelerating business processes.

Enterprise UC strategies are intended to:

  • Enhance the end user experience by introducing advanced communications tools and making it easier to understand which to use, and when to use them.
  • Streamline daily communications by improving end user availability and reachability, enabling rich collaboration from any location and any device.
  • Accelerate key business processes through tight integration of real-time communications features with core business applications and workflows.

Organizations pursue unified communications to drive improved collaboration, productivity and operational flexibility. The top drivers of UC projects include:

  1. Enhancing user and team collaboration
  2. Improving overall employee productivity
  3. Improving operational flexibility
  4. Enhancing specific business processes
  5. Improving enterprise mobility

Adopting unified communications enables an organization to manage disconnected systems and foster enhanced communications company-wide. For example, you could launch ad-hoc team meetings using reservationless desktop audio/video/web conferencing tools and capabilities. Another benefit reported by our clients is the consolidation of IT administrative tasks and support requests for multiple business communications tools. And extending standard communications feature sets such as extension dialing and presence to remote staff and mobile device users can help improve reachability and ease communications headaches.

Enterprise IT leaders should conduct a thorough appropriateness assessment for unified communications, then examine key vertical applications and business use cases to underpin your UC strategy and gain the executive and end user buy-in required to move forward.

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