Podcast: Talking trends in monitoring collaboration and UC

On a recent episode of Telecom Reseller’s EDUcast, host Gary Audin spoke with Jonathan Sass, Vyopta’s vice president of product management. The conversation (presented here as the first of two parts) touched on the major trends and changes Vyopta has observed in monitoring collaboration and UC (unified communications) since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So, Jonathan, we hear the word collaboration a lot, especially for employees who work from home. What is the best definition you know of?

There’s a lot of great definitions of collaboration, but at the end of the day, one commonality across all of them is collaboration is about people working together to achieve a common business goal. Here at Vyopta we’re focused on improving collaboration and UC experiences for people within organizations large and small, by providing modern analytics and monitoring around the technologies that are being used, the spaces and where that collaboration is taking place, and by providing insights that help the end users of that technology better leverage them.

You mentioned the word goals. What are the attributes of a successful collaboration?

it’s really important for the people in that meeting to have a high-quality experience. I think we’ve all been in meetings where it’s taken five or 10 minutes to get that meeting set up, to get everybody in or a meeting where there’s been quality issues in the middle of the meeting and you can’t hear the presenter or see the presentation or it lags behind you. If you’re going to have an effective meeting it’s important for that meeting to be a high-quality experience for all that’s involved, whether that is internally or externally in a situation where you may be working with customers or clients. And so goals for a successful meeting, in addition to meeting basics like making sure you have an agenda, making sure that the instructions for getting in the meeting are easy to understand and everybody knows where that meeting is taking place. It’s also to make sure that experience is powerful for all of the users with high-quality voice and video.

Now, let’s move to the opposite side of things. What happens when collaboration doesn’t work right?

Ultimately, the goals of that meeting may not be met. If it’s a sales call, potentially the person you’re talking to may get frustrated and leave that meeting. Or if it’s an internal team of users collaborating, if there’s poor experience that meeting may get extended and go on for longer than is needed. In many organizations the productivity of the employees are paramount. And if you’re having poor meeting experiences, your employees aren’t meeting their peak productivity, which will frustrate the users in management within that organization. And in some cases this will lead to a reluctance to continue to use those collaboration and UC technologies, and an increased number of tickets and complaints going to the IT teams and UC teams managing those technologies.

I’ve looked in the past at meeting sizes and they tended to be pretty small. Has work from home changed the number of members and the meeting size?

We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of larger meetings as organizations focus on the safety of their employees and continuing to embrace remote work. The number of larger meetings has dramatically increased and outpaced the growth in the smaller meetings. Even though the majority of meetings that are taking place still have between two and four participants, most of the growth has come from the meetings that have 10, 20 or more participants as larger groups are meeting together to collaborate, but also to share information, replacing existing company town halls with now virtual town hall type meetings.

Your company does a lot of analysis of what’s happened out there and call abandonment and failure to connect. What has happened to this problem?

This problem has increased with increased adoption of collaboration and UC technologies. One, because these technologies are being used more. But even the rate in which they’re occurring increases as providers’ networks are being taxed with the increased adoption of the technology, we’re seeing an increased number of issues. It continues to be a problem. A lot of it depends on specific issues that may be going on within the network or with the provider at a given time. And it’s the reason why tools like Vyopta exist, to identify where that issue exists, whether it is within the IT infrastructure, whether it’s with the provider you may be working with, whether that’s a UCaaS provider or meeting solution, or whether the root cause of that is with the end user environment, the technology in which they’re using it, maybe from an office or a remote location or their home network.

When you say you wonder where the problem is… I think it’s very important where you’re contrasting on-premise enterprise unified communications versus unified communications as a service. Would you compare the two for us?

What we missed early in the pandemic is the percent of bad calls was different for on-prem enterprise UC environments versus the UCaaS environments. We identify two main reasons for this. One, UCaaS grew very, very rapidly early in the pandemic, putting strain on existing networks and infrastructure, which caused much of that bad call quality experience as organizations and providers were trying to scale up quickly. Secondarily, there’s just more involved in the UCaaS world. More of it lives outside the organization’s network and outside the visibility of the IT professional. An IT professional doesn’t necessarily have control over someone’s home network, while within the organization the on-premises enterprise systems, the room endpoints, even though they’re not being used as much today, they’re more consistent because the IT group has greater visibility and greater ability to plan from a capacity standpoint. And this is largely a reaction to what happened with a rapid increase in remote work.

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Chad Swiatecki

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.