Even before the Covid-19 pandemic went global in the first quarter of 2020, organizations were already rapidly moving their unified communications applications, including calling, messaging, and meetings, to the cloud. Nemertes Research’s 2020 Cost Benefit Analysis: Workplace Collaboration and Contact Center global study of approximately 560 companies found that roughly 34% were now using Unified Communications-as-a-Service, up from 19.2% in 2019.
What factors explain this rapid growth?
The primary driver for moving to cloud is a desire to reduce costs by shifting operational responsibility to a cloud provider, and by having the flexibility to add or remote licenses as conditions warrant. Additional drivers include the ability to leverage cloud providers to easily scale without having to make up-front hardware and software investments, and to take advantage of the rapid speed that cloud providers are able to use to bring new features to market. Both reducing costs and leveraging new features for productivity gains increase ROI. Among those reporting the highest return on their collaboration investments, 77.8% are accelerating their move to cloud.
The pandemic is likely to accelerate this shift to the cloud, as 64.8% of the 528 companies participating in our 2020 Visual Communications and Collaboration study say that they are more likely to use cloud services than they were before the pandemic began.
As part of this shift, many organizations are fundamentally changing the way they provision calling capabilities. Calling applications running on computers and/or mobile devices are replacing traditional desktop phones. UC clients that integrate calling with team collaboration and video-enabled meetings are replacing formerly separate softphones, instant messaging apps, and meeting clients. Those who only had a single desktop phone may now access communication and collaboration services from multiple computers and mobile devices, at the same time and from virtually any location.
Successfully moving telephony platforms to the cloud requires a careful, programmatic approach that ensures minimal disruption as endpoints port from on-premises PBXs to UCaaS provided calling services.
Key requirements include:
- Ensuring accurate records prior to move. This means documenting phone number assignments, dial plans, and locations for emergency calling
- Porting numbers from existing on-premises platforms to the cloud
- Testing after port
- Ensuring that move-add-change and provisioning approaches migrate to support the cloud, including self-service portals
Absent tools that automate the management of user accounts and phone numbers, the above list of tasks can be daunting and complex. Manual record keeping, provisioning, and move-add-change accounting create tremendous potential for errors, not to mention significant resource requirements for often over-burdened IT staff. Configuration management approaches must also extend to new and existing remote workers, meaning additional need for automation and delegation to allow departments or business units to manage their own users and to allow for self-service account management.
Achieving success requires taking advantage of automation tools that simplify provisioning, porting, and on-going management. Nemertes’ previously mentioned Cost Benefit Analysis study found that companies with the highest overall ROI for their UC investments spend, on average, 49% more on administration management and automation tools than those with lower or no reported ROI. This means that investing in management tools to optimize UC management results in overall operational cost savings. In effect, management tools pay for themselves. Those using specialty tools for both administration and performance management, spend 28% less on overall UC operations than those who lack such tools.
The correlation of success, in terms of lower operational costs, and an improved ability to support the needs of remote workers, with the use of tools that automate provisioning and on-going management is clear. Consider implementing capabilities to automate endpoint provisioning, porting, and administration as part of your shift to the cloud.
By Irwin Lazar – Nemertes