| Ingram Micro's Solution Centers in Buffalo,
N.Y., and Santa Ana, Calif., are staffed by certified engineers on call
to answer your questions. Here they answer some important questions about
Windows 7, digital signage and unified communications.
What should I be doing to prepare my business customers
for a new Microsoft operating system?
A: IT professionals can download Windows 7 now, so it's
a great time to start learning and testing solutions. The feedback from
the industry is that Windows 7 is what customers have been waiting for.
Microsoft worked hard at taking Windows Vista feedback and incorporating
it into Windows 7, so it has greatly improved hardware compatibilities
and deals with system requirement concerns. Plus, it will run well on
older systems. Microsoft also has solutions for Windows 7 application
compatibility, such as XP Mode. This release is going to meet the needs
of businesses of all sizes, and demand will be high.
Tom Mann, Microsoft Solution Center Engineer
Q: The opportunity to sell digital signage products from Cisco
to my business customers looks attractive, but what kind of expertise
or certifications do we need before we can begin?
A: Digital signage provides a great marketing opportunity
for end users to deliver messaging to their customers. The good news is
that Cisco does not require additional certifications to sell this solution,
and no extensive networking expertise is needed. Content for digital signage
typically requires constant updating, but solution providers can develop
that expertise in-house as a new service offering. The Cisco solution
also has the ability to provide more than static content; it allows for
live streaming content that can be applied to everything from emergency
messaging in school systems to focused training for end-user employees.
Through the Ingram Micro Solution Center, partners can evaluate the feasibility
of the Cisco solution as a profitable business practice, and receive training,
demos, and take part in webinars with our engineers.
Peter Avino, Cisco Systems Engineer and Instructor
Q: What's the best way to begin rolling out a unified communications
strategy for my customers?
A: The purpose of a UC strategy is to facilitate a business
process. So when planning for a specific customer, answer this question:
What are the barriers to communication? Then, begin rolling out a strategy
that breaks down those barriers. Rip-and-replace is an option, but starting
out small is typically the best way, and leads to the least resistance.
One option is to start with voice mail -- unifying a customer's messaging
with Cisco Unity or Microsoft Exchange 2007. Both will work with existing
phone systems, they don't change the user workspace, and the benefits
will be immediately noticeable. Another option is to roll out presence
and instant messaging that can both be fully integrated with fixed and
mobile phones later. Whichever path you choose, the sooner you demonstrate
the benefits of UC first-hand, the better.
Michael Mason, Cisco Solution Center Engineer
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