Unified communications (UC) bring people together using technology to facilitate conversations and exchange information, whether by phone, instant messaging, audio/video conferencing or desktop sharing. UC can consist of physical or virtual systems, either on-premises or cloud-based, and may be used for intra-organizational communication or to connect with customers or external providers.
Companies with minimalist travel budgets can leverage UC to foster collaboration and it can greatly improve customer contact and support, especially in today’s “always on” business environment where 24x7x365 operations are a common standard. Mobile communication apps can also help employees on the go remain connected to the enterprise.
Any customer-facing apps or systems are considered business critical, of course, and so when implementing unified communications platforms, several standard best practices which apply across the technological spectrum can maximize your return on investment.
Some components that contribute to ensuring maximum ROI from UC systems is achieved, are performance, uptime and analytics surrounding call patterns and anomalies. Few are liable to notice if an email takes a little longer than normal to arrive, or average call volumes, but if audio or video is sluggish, instant messaging goes dark, and if there are insights into potential toll fraud, management will definitely become aware of this hampering liability.
What’s the best way to evaluate current UC systems and make sure you are getting your investments worth?
Reporting and trending on user experience metrics (Mean Opinion Score aka MOS or Quality of Service aka QOS), usage and user feedback to understand overall UC adoption. A key focus is also the cost of operations – the number of helpdesk calls, IM vs. telephony calls, call trending and even costing to better understand the cost per issue and overall IT operations cost for the entire call UC solution.
It’s worth pointing out that monitoring application or system usage can be a key factor in maximizing ROI, to assess whether there are unused functions that can be eliminated to save money, or whether maximum capacities in licensing or system loads are being approached.
Datatrack’s UC Adoption Storm dashboard provides just this. The near real-time dashboard which is updated every few seconds provides the insight into this trending based on the metrics provided within widgets that are configured by our Hosted Services teams on behalf of you, the customer.
What are some examples of useful UC tools to help IT teams implement and manage solutions?
Two categories of tools are recommended; experience/performance management and system administration.
Experience/performance management solutions help customers monitor and manage the overall environment performance, quality, and end user experience of calls and meetings across voice, video, and desktop sharing. These manage the overall user experience in real-time, identify issues with real-time proactive alerting, diagnose and solve problems, provide root cause troubleshooting, permit reactive helpdesk investigation and triage and offer trend reporting, network problem solving, and more.
Recommendations for specific types of UC components, and why are they preferred?
Every organization should have enterprise-grade performance management and monitoring solution in place to help deliver a high-quality communications experience for users and ensure the expected adoption and ROI. It’s important to monitor end-to-end eco-system components from multiple vendors using something which deploys easily as a software-based solution without hardware probes, monitors real-time and historical metrics, has fully customizable displays/dashboards, and can be integrated with other systems such as IT Service Management solutions. Our Storm solution is this dashboard that can be tailored to each customer environment/estate containing customisable widgets with additional reporting capability that are bespoke.
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