According to the Gartner Global Telephony and Messaging Forecast 2016–2023, 2020 marks the first time in history that spending on cloud-based telephony and messaging surpassed spending on on-premises solutions. While this is clearly a benefit to Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) providers, there are also misconceptions around these offerings. Organizations need to tread carefully and deliberately as they consider moving collaboration to the cloud.
First, the Good News: The Benefits of UCaaS and CCaaS
Day-to-day and lifecycle management of UCaaS and CCaaS solutions is much easier than managing an on-premises solution. System monitoring, troubleshooting, patching and upgrading all become the responsibility of the solution provider. Often, updates are pushed out automatically without the need to schedule downtime. Rolling out new features or capabilities is also greatly simplified. In addition, redundancy and disaster recovery are typically better in the cloud. Together, these solutions allow IT teams to focus on strategic initiatives instead of managing the phone system.
UCaaS and CCaaS can also drastically simplify providing mobile and remote workers with the collaboration tools they need. When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, CDW worked with many customers to provide remote worker solutions. Sometimes, we were able to update the organizations’ existing on-premises solution; other times, we provided a new UCaaS solution.
Native one-to-one and team messaging are typically part of a UCaaS solution. This can cut down on email, as well as improve the way virtual teams communicate and collaborate on projects or when troubleshooting. In addition, softphones typically include video capabilities for calls within the organization. This can greatly reduce the sense of isolation remote workers sometimes feel as well as improve the quality of communication.
When we eventually return to the office, experts suggest that teams will likely remain decentralized. Many workers will remain remote on either a full-time or part-time basis. CDW is currently working with many organizations to add video meeting spaces. This will allow them to bring everyone together regardless of where they are working.
Now the Bad News: Common UCaaS and CCaaS Challenges
As organizations consider moving to UCaaS and CCaaS solutions, it’s important to keep in mind that infrastructure, management, monitoring and upgrades are all part of the subscription. Organizations should expect to pay a little more than they did for their on-prem solution. After all, these solutions were previously self-owned and self-managed. The expense comes in the form of a subscription, shifting the cost from a capital expenditure to an operational one, which can be a benefit to some organizations. Operating expenses (opex) are typically under a lot of scrutiny since there is nothing to depreciate. Because of this, it’s important to show leadership that they are getting the full value out of opex investments.
There is also a lot to consider when picking the right UCaaS or CCaaS solution as well as navigating the path to completing the migration. It is commonly thought that moving to UCaaS is easy because it is in the cloud, but organizations need to consider all of the same things they would take into account if they were moving to a new on-premises collaboration solution:
- Dial plan
- Quality of Service (QoS)
- PSTN in the cloud or on-premises
- Fax machines
- WAN and internet connectivity
- Call feature requirements
- Softphones vs. hard phones
- Replaceable handsets
- Headset requirements
- Video needs of on-premises and remote users
- Redundancy and disaster recovery requirements
- What countries require UCaaS or CCaaS services?
The list above can be daunting, and often organizations don’t know where to start. Sometimes, they reach out directly to the UCaaS or CCaaS partner to figure all of this out, but the reality is that a solid scoping effort should precede engaging with a UCaaS provider, since it can help with the selection process. Ultimately, scoping also helps with the design, identifying what features will need to be rolled out and configured.
Beyond the technical concerns, organizations must also address challenges around employee adoption, which are often far more significant than IT and business leaders realize. Training is often the least considered and most important part of a project. End users don’t like change. This is especially challenging when the existing system has been in place for a significant period of time. Coworkers often have trouble adjusting to new solutions and using them to their fullest capabilities. Any successful collaboration rollout will account not only for the technology but for people and processes as well.
While the benefits of moving to a cloud collaboration solution can be well worth the effort, it makes sense for organizations to ensure they take the time to get it right. When users don’t feel comfortable with a new solution, even if it is set up properly, the project is perceived as a failure.
How CDW Can Help
CDW has been a leader in the collaboration space for decades and is uniquely positioned to help organizations understand their UCaaS and CCaaS options. We complete the scoping effort up front with our customers and let that information guide us. CDW works with nearly all major UCaaS and CCaaS solution providers in the marketplace and can help customers identify which solutions are the best fit for their organizations based on their requirements and business goals.
While nearly all UCaaS and CCaaS solutions can check all of the boxes, CDW can help to provide a clearer understanding of what each solution brings to the table. We can also set up demos, provide pricing and arrange pilots and proof of concepts. In addition, CDW can help customers figure out how existing collaboration tools can integrate, or coexist, with a new UCaaS solution.
In preparation for a migration to a UCaaS or CCaaS solution, CDW can help with review and remediation services for an organization’s network and security infrastructure. We can also help optimize identity and access management solutions. Once the review and remediation process is completed, CDW can provide badged services for several UCaaS and CCaaS solution providers including Microsoft, Cisco, RingCentral and Five9. CDW can also provide adoption services and training to ensure the project is a resounding success.
With CDW’s guidance, envisioning, scoping, pricing, demos, pilots, infrastructure review, remediation, implementation, and adoption services, we can help bring order to chaos and ultimately speed the time it takes to implement the right cloud collaboration solution. If you are considering a migration to UCaaS or CCaaS and don’t know where to start, reach out to CDW. We can help. We get IT.