It’s very likely that we’re still in the early phase of a transformational time in the unified communications as a service space, thanks largely in part to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The massive shift to working from home and remote collaboration has created an opening for new players, with most of the UCaaS growth opportunities coming in platforms such as Zoom and BlueJeans.
The change in landscape has also transformed the demand picture for established leaders like Microsoft and Google, both of which have seen growth spikes for Teams and Meet, respectively. The surge in remote work has changed what it means to be a UCaaS provider, as well as a customer and a recent Vyopta webinar brought together leaders in the field to discuss how to find excellence today and tomorrow.
Russ Newton, a collaboration specialist for Genesis Integration, said we are approaching an overload of options as new competitors move in to grab a piece of the UCaaS growth pie that expanded very quickly beginning in March. He said users will need to have detailed data about the services they use and try out to make the best decision about what providers to commit to long term.
“The (UCaaS) software organizations have really taken over the market because of collaboration, which historically has been more about hardware, and because of that, the rate of change in terms of feature functionality on these various aspects is something that’s obviously great in terms of the richness of the experience,” he said.
“But it’s also challenging in the sense of the average user becoming comfortable with the new application and figuring out how to best use it to do what they need to do, and every line of business is different in terms of what their specific needs are.”
UCaaS Growth Demands Choices From Data
The many options now available to organizations of all sizes means we are also firmly in the multivendor age of UCaaS, where a combination of tools will be available to users for video, collaboration and other demands. Getting detailed data like what is offered by Vyopta on usage and quality is crucial when many services are in play, so that companies can track adoption and address their technical issues effectively.
Kamaline Czerniak, Vyopta’s senior manager of product marketing, said UCaaS growth has reached an average of 500 percent since the start of the pandemic with an assortment of providers in play for most organizations.
“The reality is that most companies are using more than one video collaboration technology in their environment. It’s something for internal collaboration and something else for external collaboration with customers or patients or other revenue-generating interactions with people outside the organization. Or it’s something internally or externally as well for enterprise voice versus a videoconferencing platform or something else like that,” she said.
And now executives have become interested in what UCaaS services are performing best, which means IT and UC teams need to have all the relevant data in one place.
“During the pandemic, a lot of a lot of IT leaders and C-level execs started to get really interested in how UC was being used on a daily basis,” she said.
“While in some companies the leadership teams within IT and within the company itself didn’t necessarily find interest in looking at the UC usage numbers on a regular basis, with the pandemic that interest increased very significantly to the point where according to our data 89 percent were really interested in seeing that information and seeing it much more often.”
With video usage firmly in a “hockey stick” upward curve, organizations want to be able to track what users and groups are showing the biggest increases. Having a firm handle on that data can reveal patterns that will prove useful in deciding how to allocate licenses, how many endpoints to purchase, and committing other resources.
“When you’re talking about upwards of 70 million conference minutes in an organization… someone is going to ask at some point who is using the most? Who is using it the least?” said Keith Comeforo, a global account manager for Vyopta.
“How is it divided up amongst our cities, business units or, in the case of education or hospital, departments in university or schools of medicine and in a hospital setting. So addressing that has been a really big point of strength for us.”
The UCaaS Impact on Real Estate
The unpredictability brought on by the pandemic has caused companies with large real estate footprints to start to look hard at how they use their current space, and reconsider future expansion plans. A large component of that decision comes with the use of meeting and conference areas, which need to be utilized as fully as possible to justify their space cost.
Comeforo said the workspace monitoring Vyopta has offered for current clients around meeting spaces, and use of endpoints in group and smaller settings, has been valuable for making more accurate decisions when it comes to allocating space long term.
“We’re getting a lot of great data on how many rooms were being used and finding out how people were scheduling. And then if that scheduling was going full circle and people were actually attending the meetings they schedule, if they did, are they using the hardware that’s in there?” he said.
“We can see if they’re using it for voice, for presentation only, or are they actually making a video call? Because we all know what happens in workspaces. There’s not enough rooms. There’s nothing available. Is that really so? Before we go rent three more floors in downtown Toronto, let’s find out exactly how that’s used in our 20-person rooms, smaller offices, and other smaller rooms.”
To learn more about how enterprises are adjusting to the changes in remote work, download our recent eBook: Managing UC and workspaces in next phase of the pandemic
Chad Swiatecki is a business writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, New York Daily News, Austin Business Journal, Austin American-Statesman and many other print and online publications. He lives in Austin, Texas and is a graduate of Michigan State University. Find him online on LinkedIn.