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Remote Workforce Demonstrates UCC Management Tool Demand

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With more than 80% of employees still working from home either full- or part-time, it’s vital to have a solid management strategy for UCC as well as contact center applications. Management tools improve the administration and performance of UCC, and contact center, and the efficiency of those using them. But they also show measurable success for optimal productivity and operational cost metrics, according to a recent Nemertes’ 2020-21 Enterprise and Customer Engagement Management research study. Here, we’ll take a deeper look into that report.
 
UCC, Contact Center Management Tool Selection
IT leaders have various options for management tools in the contact center. Typically, companies use more than one type to manage applications so they can automate as much of the provisioning and performance as possible. Categories of tools to consider include:
 
  • Platform management. These provide basic performance metrics for the UCC or contact center platform and come directly from those providers, like Avaya, Cisco, Five9, Nice inContact, RingCentral, and Talkdesk.
  • Performance management. These third-party, specialty tools deliver more sophisticated control of UCC and contact center, focusing on uptime, root-cause analysis, and ongoing performance. One selection can potentially manage multiple apps and platform providers. Companies in this space include Empirix, IR, Martello, Unify Square, and Vyopta.
  • Administration management. Additional third-party, specialty tools that focus on configuration and provisioning, along with event and address management, among other capabilities. Companies in this space include Kurmi, Oracle, Unify Square, and VOSS.
  • Endpoint management. Specialty tools that provide performance data and remote administration on endpoints, such as headsets, handsets, and video devices. Companies in this space include Cisco, Jabra, and Poly.
 
Most organizations use UCC platform providers (54.8%) or third-party performance management tools (53.5%), while fewer use contact center platform providers (36.1%), endpoint providers (34.2%), and third-party administration management tools (33.5%).
 
IT staffs often think they will get what they need from platform management tools—and about half do. The rest say they need additional specialty tools to get the depth of data, multi-vendor integration, or reporting required.
 
As companies move unified communications and contact center platforms to the cloud, they continue to use their own tools, vs. entirely outsourcing all operations and management. In fact, 61.5% of organizations said they would prefer management tools come from third parties so they can independently validate platform or cloud provider performance. Only about a quarter of companies fully outsource management. The rest either use their own tools (43.3%), or use both their own tools and outsourced services (30.8%).
 
Measuring Success
There are no shortage of management and monitoring tools throughout all areas of IT, so it’s vital to document success with the addition of any new tool—and its associated cost. With employees working from home, IT staffs need help with configuration, provisioning, and performance management (particularly given the inconsistency inherent with Internet access). Our research participants saw impressive results when they added specialty tools, in particular:
 
  • 15.5% decrease in mean time to repair with the addition of performance management tools (though companies with more than 1,000 employees saw a 33.8% improvement)
  • 31% decrease in provisioning time with the addition of administration management tools
  • 24.8% decrease in mean time to repair with the addition of endpoint management tools
 
Management Tools and Business Metrics
UCC and contact center management tools provide hundreds of different features, many of which have become table stakes. Today, IT staffs are looking for more than just fluctuating performance alerts, root-cause analysis, or other nuts-and-bolts measurements. They want the tools to tie the use of technology to a variety of business success metrics.
 
For example, 65% of research participants said they need employee productivity reporting to effectively manage their applications. This practice has become particularly vital with the remote nature of today’s workforce. IT and business leaders want to see which apps employees are using, how many hours of the day, and estimate how much time the apps have save them.
 
With data like this, CIOs can see which technology investments are paying off, and which aren’t. They also drill down into the data. For example, perhaps one department or region is using team collaboration or contact center agent analytics significantly more than all others—and showing higher levels of employee productivity. Rather than scrapping the applications all together, they may opt to take the lessons learned from the highly productive group and train all others accordingly.
 
Participants also want the tools to be smarter, with AI-based, predictive analytics capabilities. Nearly 60% of companies want AI to predict when outages or security issues are likely to occur, based on current conditions that align with past conditions preceding an outage or issue. Based on usage patterns, IT administrators also want to see capacity engineering issues may be likely to emerge, and over what time frame. Basically, the tools should work to prevent and predict problems.
 
Others are interested in tools that are helping to track meeting room and video experiences. For example, 45% of companies are willing to pay a full premium for room experience monitoring. This emerging feature would use AI and machine learning (Natural Language Processing, speech analytics, image recognition, etc.) to monitor overall experience in meeting rooms. The data would rate the meeting productivity and assess employee satisfaction—based on their sentiment, words spoken, tone of voice, etc.
 
Moving forward, I expect companies to rely increasingly on management tools to ensure the efficient administration and solid application performance for their changing workforces. For now, however, the providers must step up AI-enabled features to automate functions. Though only 26.4% of companies have a cohesive management automation strategy, most are planning to implement one for security management, license management, policy-based changes, and provisioning.

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