Leader and Innovator in Unified Communications
With headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, and offices in Cologne, Germany, and Singapore, Unify² serves Fortune 500–class enterprise customers around the globe by addressing their complex communications challenges. In doing so, the company provides business consulting, business process optimization, systems integration, and implementations of Microsoft unified communications technologies, including Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Lync Server. Unify² also offers several products and solutions of its own to extend the Microsoft unified communications platform for specific business and technology needs. The company collaborates closely on many different levels with Microsoft. For example, Unify² attained the Unified Communications competency as a member of the Microsoft Partner Network; was a Platinum Launch Partner for Office Communications Server 2007 R2; is a designated Services-Ready Partner by Microsoft Services with a master subcontracting agreement; and has co-developed for Microsoft essential intellectual property in relation to Lync Server deployment, which will be licensed, distributed, and supported worldwide by Unify². In addition, Unify² participates in the technology adopter programs for Lync Server, providing direct feedback to advance product development. Several team members hold their own patents in a variety of communications technologies.
|Sonu Aggarwal, CEO, Unify²|
Sonu Aggarwal, CEO and Founder of Unify², says, “Our mission is to help global enterprises accelerate unified communications and help them transform their business processes around communications. The Microsoft technologies we deploy offer the most innovative and cost-effective way to help our enterprise customers achieve their goals while they streamline and optimize their communications.”
Microsoft Certified Master Practice as Part of the Business Model
Team members’ deep technical and business expertise is critical for Unify² in growing its business and working effectively on behalf of its enterprise customers. The company generally recruits highly experienced and talented professionals and provides them with all the training required to succeed at Unify². Complementing associates’ other qualifications, Unify² has made a significant investment in Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) certification for team members. “We want to offer our enterprise customers the best possible assurance of our ability to deliver to their expectations and truly make a difference for them,” says Aggarwal. “MCM certification clearly demonstrates capability, credibility, and accomplishment in translating technology into business advantages. We have deep expertise in Microsoft unified communications technology and some of us have spent many years working at Microsoft. Even so, MCM certification is a significant differentiator for us.”
Currently, Unify² has three employees who have achieved MCM certification and expects that it will have more in the future. To be successful in the program, professionals need to possess years of experience in the technology for which they seek MCM certification. Their accumulated skills and knowledge are validated through a combination of Microsoft Certification Program (MCP) exams and certifications, which are prerequisite requirements to achieve MCM certification. After candidates have enrolled in an MCM program, they participate in three weeks of intense training. Throughout the training, they take a series of tests, which include an in-depth, lab-based examination.
A number of Microsoft partners play a role in facilitating MCM instruction and testing, delivering parts of the training or designing examinations. Unify² offered domain expertise in the program design and created several of the complex lab components that candidates work with during the training. That participation corresponds to the company’s appreciation of MCM. Says Aggarwal, “Obtaining MCM certification takes key employees away from their jobs for three weeks and demands a firm commitment from both the employer and the employee who wants to become a Microsoft Certified Master. But we know that the measurable return-on-investment [ROI] and the less quantifiable benefits, such as the sharing and mentoring that help to advance our project teams, make excellent business sense.” In the Unify² experience, enterprise prospects and customers generally appreciate the depth of expertise the company can offer and understand that MCM certification serves as a meaningful benchmark for proving that expertise.
||Based on just a single contract, our ROI on MCM certification is above 730 percent. Other clients may feel the same way and weigh the value of MCM certification when they select a vendor.
The MCMs at Unify² work in teams with other technology and communications experts to scope, deliver, and support customer projects through innovative, scalable processes that make accelerated results possible. That collaboration gives customers a direct way to experience the caliber of MCM-certified individuals by interacting with them.
For Unify² employees, the ability to contribute in an organization that takes professional growth seriously and gain a valuable, top-level certification makes a significant difference in job satisfaction, career outlook, and earnings potential. “We can build our team with Microsoft unified communications professionals who are deeply committed to their careers and our customers,” says Aggarwal. “In turn, we offer them a rewarding work environment, where they can solve the communications challenges of forward-looking enterprise customers with acute insight, optimized processes, and powerful technology.”
ROI of More Than 730 Percent from a Single Transaction
Recently, the investment in MCM certification within the Unify² team paid off handsomely when the company won a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract for an involved unified communications project from a large public-sector customer. Unify² competed with several larger technology providers to win this business. “We knew this customer had very high standards for accountability, service quality, and the dependability of the technology we provide, but we later discovered that the decision makers considered MCM to be an important distinction among competing providers,” Aggarwal explains. Therefore, the client carefully reviewed all vendors’ qualifications and visited the MCM pages on the Microsoft site, which list people who are MCMs together with the organizations they are part of.
After the customer stakeholders had communicated their decision to Unify², they also told Aggarwal that Unify² stood out amongst its competitors because it had three people with MCM certification on staff. That denoted an ability to deliver and a rootedness in the technology that the competing providers were unable to match. Says Aggarwal, “Based on just a single contract, our ROI on MCM certification is above 730 percent. Other customers may feel the same way and weigh the value of MCM certification when they select a vendor.”
In calculating the ROI of the three employees achieving MCM certification, Aggarwal considers not only the cost of the trainings, tests, and exams but also includes lost billable time and the impact on teams and projects if key people are away from their jobs for a lengthy period. Even so, the returns make a strong business case for the MCM program. “When a client is looking for objective validation of our skills and experience, the presence of MCMs in the organization is compelling, unquestionable proof,” Aggarwal comments.
Long-Term, Strategic Advantage
MCM certification will continue to play a key role in Unify²‘s continued preparedness to serve global and national enterprise customers who see the value in a long-term partnership with a provider of unified communication solutions. Communications and marketing materials will increasingly highlight the fact that Unify² boasts MCM professionals on its team and feels strongly about the value of the program. That also means Unify² is highly confident in going after complex, challenging projects from enterprise clients. “With our MCM-certified employees, we reshape the competitive field to our advantage, which enables us to compete effectively against much larger technology providers,” Aggarwal explains. “The certifications also help us connect more directly with potential enterprise customers—across a greater variety of market segments—who see our value.”
Customers are not the only ones who stand to benefit from the validated expertise Unify² brings to its work. The growing network of Unify² business partners can also experience an advantage. Aggarwal says, “There is a clear value proposition related to the MCM program for other Microsoft partners who team with us in serving their clients. These partners generate awareness for our people’s accomplishments and build greater confidence with our shared customers, resulting in stronger joint-value propositions and increased customer satisfaction.” What’s more, for the companies that resell Unify² products, the MCM certifications the organization obtained—together with its track record—prove that Unify² is an innovative product partner that delivers advanced solutions not available from other providers.
Aggarwal believes that the MCM program will remain an effective validation for expertise and a competitive distinction for years to come. “Even if all Microsoft technology professionals who have the ability to do so were to become MCMs, it’s in the nature of the certification that the group would remain exclusive,” he says. “People who are the top of their field, along with the organizations that employ their skills, will always stand out strongly.”Microsoft Certified Master Program Offerings
Each Microsoft Certified Master certification covers individual core server technologies:
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
Microsoft Lync Server 2010
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
Microsoft SQL Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 – Directory
Additional program details, schedule, prerequisite requirements, and registration information are available at: www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/master.aspx
For more information about Unify² products and services, call (425) 865-0700 or visit the website at: www.unifysquare.com