Managing Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) can present challenges. While UC&C services and solutions are available from PBX vendors, telcos, VARs, MSPs and cloud providers, the problems encountered when managing trouble tickets can be beyond what an SMB can handle. This is an opportunity for MSPs that can manage the UC&C operation 24/7 when the SMB does not have the expertise or cannot afford it.
MSP customers want their users to utilize UC&C and not be frustrated by Quality of Experience (QoE) problems. But, there can be significant and continuous QoE issues. While there are many management tools available that enterprises can implement (see graphic later in this article), most SMBs likely only have one tool and it may not support QoE management. About 90% of UC&C problems are not reported.
To understand the QoE challenges, I read the paper by NETSCOUT, “Communication, Collaboration & IT: Growing Pains and IT Strains.” NETSCOUT commissioned a survey of 300 IT leaders to examine the impact of UC&C platforms on the changing nature of work and on business networks. The graphics in this blog are from the NETSCOUT paper.
Where to Implement UC&C?
This depends on the customer’s specific situation and how far the customer is in their digital transformation journey. Hybrid deployments deliver significant benefit for customers that work within or supply regulated industries, are demanded to demonstrate compliance accountability, or have stringent security and data privacy requirements to meet.
A hybrid solution is not necessarily more complex. If a UC&C solution supports different deployment models, it can be a significant advantage. The journey to the cloud can be completed at the customer’s pace without the immediate need to change the underlying architecture. The hybrid approach also ensures inclusion of workflows and business applications in daily use.
What is the Status of UC&C Management Platforms?
The significant growth of hybrid work environments has been the biggest driver of UC&C adoption. According to the NETSCOUT survey, 93% of companies say collaboration tools are important to their hybrid work policies. The same percentage (93%) of businesses added new UC&C tools in the past 18 months. The typical enterprise has between three and nine tools in use.
Why do Businesses have Multiple Tool Solutions?
It appears they’re looking for what works best for their businesses. Better features, accommodating employee growth, and improved security all top the list of reasons. Unfortunately, businesses may also use different tools in different departmental silos. For example, one tool may be used by marketing and creating teams and another by financial or administrative professionals. Business acquisitions and mergers contribute to increased tool use, according to 43% of respondents. The majority of IT executives plan on consolidating the number of UC&C tools over the next year. Interestingly, respondents in the C-suite were 14% more likely to predict a consolidation.
Should UC&C Management Tools be Consolidated?
SMBs need a standard UC&C tool/solution with a variable set of capabilities. This can be provided by the MSP and can be mostly satisfied through a set of pre-built integrations to the applications businesses have chosen to use.
Larger companies are significantly more demanding and require highly sophisticated and more specific integration capabilities, whether that means integration with other communication platforms, business applications, contact center solutions, or with their specific environment (IoT). These capabilities present even greater problems for the SMB.
How Bad is the Help Desk Problem?
IT departments have recorded a significant increase in the number of help desk tickets. More than 90% of the survey companies point to the increase being due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over one-third (37%) reported that between 50% and 75% of all helpdesk requests are related to a UC&C issue several times a day.
Problem Resolution Success Varies
The majority of UC&C help desk tickets are resolved within the same day. According to the survey, 26% were resolved in a few minutes, while 56% took a few hours to resolve. Sadly, 4% took a week to resolve.
The overwhelming majority (87%) of businesses say most UC&C tickets are either easy or somewhat easy to resolve, but the volume adds up to a significant burden on IT staff time. More than a third (36%) of businesses reported more than 2,500 service desk tickets per month, while 12% reported more than 5,000 tickets. There’s a cost to all these tickets, too, with average spend being about $15 per service desk ticket.
What can UC&C Monitoring do for the SMB?
A standard MSP service would be a perfect solution for SMBs. But, most solutions are beyond the SMB budget. Outsourcing the tool implementation and operation to an MSP will satisfy the requirements. This will also alleviate the need for Tier 1 and 2 staff at the help desk, while remaining affordable. It does not require an IT department to set it up, manage, or maintain it.
The NETSCOUT survey demonstrates that the increased usage of UC&C tools can have a significant impact on the lives of users, IT teams, and their customers. The question is, how can businesses provide a seamless user experience with high QoE, foster productivity, streamline processes, and improve business outcomes while minimizing the impact on their IT help desks? This is where the SMB IT staff must inventory and consolidate their UC&C tool operations or outsource to a MSP.
Edited by Erik Linask