If your organization is considering moving to UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), consider that the platform you choose will be the primary interface users will rely on to communicate internal and externally from a voice, video, messaging, and collaboration perspective for the next 3+ years. The right partner can help you through a thoughtful decision-making process and ensure your specific requirements are met or exceeded by the solution (i.e., Cisco, Microsoft, Zoom, etc.) you eventually choose.
UCaaS Providers: An Overview
Choosing to implement a modern UCaaS solution is a good decision. The choice enables the integration of all communication channels, as well as the integration of collaboration and productivity tools to streamline workflow and increase general productivity, simplicity, and if implemented well, secure access from anywhere on any device.
If you’re at this decision-making stage, you have many platform options; however, not all UCaaS providers were created equal. For the evaluation process, following are a few aspects to consider to ensure you make the right choice for your business.
Choosing the Right UCaaS Solution Provider
Subject Matter Expertise
Resulting from the sheer number of resellers available, and the ease of acquiring licensing and products directly from the vendor, many businesses fail to consider the importance and long-term benefit of design optimization and implementation. Falling into this trap immediately sets companies back in terms of adoption, workflow optimization, and overall time-to-value.
For example, consider SaaS based CRM or document management platforms like SalesForce or iManage, respectively: it may be easy to buy the licenses for these products, but how well do they serve your users without significant consideration of your company’s requirements? The bitter truth is that implementing these solutions optimally requires substantial thought and consideration and becomes exponentially more difficult if not done right the first time.
For this reason, it helps to work with a partner that has in-depth experience with the complexity of voice, messaging, collaboration, productivity, and overall integration and security.
Core Product Functionality
Unified Communications and Collaboration platforms provide the ability to integrate voice, video, messaging, productivity, and enterprise applications into a single interface. Options include Cisco WebEx (App), Microsoft Teams and Zoom One. Core product functionality for all these platforms, in addition to voice and video, includes “persistent group chat” which allows teams to communicate quickly around a particular subject (internal/external initiative, client matter, projects, etc.). These are called “spaces” or “channels” depending on the manufacturer. These spaces can be consolidated into groups called “teams”.
Communications: Voice requirements may include shared lines, coverage scenarios, “call handlers”, multiple types of voice and video conferencing scenarios (i.e., ad hoc, scheduled, training, events, town halls), contact center functionality, transcription, recording and more. Do you need to integrate these mobile clients into video room systems? What about Teams and Spaces? How does your organization want these created? Should they be created randomly by users, or should they be created automatically by integrating into external systems, such as CRM platforms or IT Service Management platforms? Should there be company standards for structure and organization?
All of these require thoughtful consideration to satisfy system and user requirements, and to have the greatest positive impact on the business.
Productivity tools: There is a significant advantage to integrating productivity tools into Unified Communications and Collaboration clients. Doing so allows users and teams to collaborate on documents, notes, tasks and enterprise applications. Which of these applications does your organization leverage the most? Does your organization standardize on notes and tasks platforms? If not, this is an opportunity to integrate those standards by building them into a communications and collaboration workflow. Which other productivity applications make the most sense to integrate workflows into your Unified Communications and Collaboration client? How does this change for different departments within the organization, if at all?
Application Development Experience: It is common that there are some features, functionality, or integrations that require experience with application development and customization. Working with a partner that possesses this capability will ensure development and customization requirments do not become an obstacle owing to limitations in the solution or its standard integrations.
Security: It’s imperative that organizations be sensitive to how data in these platforms is encrypted (during transmission “over the wire”, at rest or both) as well as who is managing and has access to the encryption keys. What about Data Residency? In what country is your and your clients’ data residing? How secure are the integrations with productivity tools, such as document management or CRM? Who in your organization has access to data that is now accessible from the Unified Communication and Collaboration client?
In summary, this is an incredible opportunity not only to implement a Unified Communications and Collaboration solution, but to assess, design, and adopt a solution that has an optimal impact on adoption, productivity and end user satisfaction. To do this effectively requires a partner with deep and broad experience in communications, productivity applications, integration, security, and often your business.