Unified Comms as a Service: Shifting from Reactionary Solutions to Strategic Choices
Cloud has become more important than ever
We could never have envisioned the explosion in cloud adoption that has happened over the last 12 months.
As the pandemic hit the UK last year, there was a steeper decline in on-premise deployments with more businesses looking to cloud-based solutions to keep their businesses operational. Most opted for a collaboration platform that they already had access to, like MS Teams or Zoom, to fill the gap in internal and external meeting capabilities.
Having made those tactical decisions about cloud services to enable the transition of workers from the office to the home, businesses are now finding themselves with a patchwork quilt of solutions and shadow IT. Systems that were chosen and deployed in haste must now be aligned with overall comms strategy to ensure they are effective in terms of productivity and cost. This means consolidating what they have with a solution that covers the full stack of business communications from internal, external, CX, meetings as well as being able to understand how their business is using these tools in order to drive improvement.
The private versus public cloud debate
Customers are at different places so the path to the cloud will be different for each. Some will find an on premise to private cloud move delivers the business benefits they are looking for, giving them more control with bespoke service wraps and financial engineering of the solution with a trusted partner. This is perhaps more important for larger service providers, where they can deliver customisation, control and competitive differentiation.
For others the rip and replace to a public cloud will make sense. This delivers all the benefits of modern tools, regular updates, global reach and predictable OPEX spend.
Large enterprises generally have more time and resources to evaluate the market when making a decision on enterprise communications. However, the non-technical owner of an SMB will struggle to navigate the fast-moving landscape of cloud communications. This is where having a good channel partner or independent advisor will be invaluable.
Most tools on the market do a great job of connecting businesses and customers together with varying levels of ease of use and customer experience. The next step is helping businesses to better understand how all these tools are being used. In the remote workplace and the move to hybrid working, how are your people using and coping with the tools that have been rolled out? What level of service are your customers receiving? Getting the 360-degree view of this will be important moving forward.
With the right information and feedback in place, employees, managers and business owners can approach future uncertainties with confidence, continue to provide high levels of customer service, and put them in the best position to thrive. And the channel needs to pick up the pace to meet this need.
Cloud is key to scalability
UC analytics is a great example of a solution that channel partners can offer to businesses of all sizes, widening their addressable market without needing to learn multiple solutions. Cloud architecture helps make this possible, but the key to a successfully scalable solution is a focus on customer experience. It must have accessibility balanced against flexibility; for example, by providing template and customisable dashboards. This allows the solution to scale from just a few seats to many thousands, and makes data not only manageable, but actionable.
With ongoing measurement and access the right level of business intelligence, businesses can ensure remote workers are delivering the right solutions and the best possible experience to customers. Call recordings can also help identify which conversations are working best for a team and help them to work more effectively, providing training to those that need additional support.
What opportunities does the cloud offer resellers?
The hybrid approach to work isn’t going away any time soon. This presents a huge opportunity for the channel to help businesses to take stock of and re-evaluate their communications and collaboration infrastructure.
How many resellers can truthfully say that, after this year of disruption, they know exactly which systems are currently in use within their customer base, right now? Are they only using solutions that the partner has provided, or have other technologies, and resellers, crept in?
Key areas for resellers to focus on are the need to consolidate disparate solutions, and to provide insight into how remote teams are working – whether that’s from a workflow, efficiency or wellbeing perspective. Channel partners must start having these conversations with their customers because if they don’t, someone else will.
Reseller considerations for choosing a cloud partner
When selecting a cloud partner, resellers need confidence and trust in their ability to tick all the right boxes for stability, service levels and great support. Resellers should then look for one that can offer differentiators in the market, beyond the basics of offering calls, video meetings and some chat, that deliver sticky value to the customer.
When you move beyond the reliable ‘table stakes’ of voice, video and chat, this next ‘sticky’ layer is insight and improvement, which is where analytics come in. Channel partners need to open their eyes to conversations about customer experience and wellbeing. Their conversations should be about new and better ways of working. Channel partners should be helping businesses to build resilience around the way they work, and their people.