More WFH apps, more problems: How to consolidate and do remote collaboration right

Posted on August 3, 2021

Under the pressures of the pandemic, IT leaders moved fast to enable work-from-home (WFH) communication and collaboration, including adding a menagerie of applications to meet the needs of cloud calling, virtual presence, chat, and video conferencing. But fast forward to the present day and this approach has devolved into a long list of apps, vendors, and additional costs that most companies can’t afford as they look to make their WFH and hybrid work models sustainable and effective for the future.

The average company now has Microsoft Teams, Webex, Slack, and countless other apps – some implemented by IT, and others implemented by different departments on the fly. These rogue, redundant apps need to be intelligently distilled to reduce IT overhead, ensure a consistent user experience across all locations, and create a single strategy for remote work and unified communications. This requires moving away from “capability checkboxes” and rethinking collaboration apps as one consolidated approach where one provider, one solution, and one dashboard can simplify IT management–preferably at a reduced cost.

Here’s how organizations can start reframing their UCaaS approach for a smarter, more sustainable hybrid work strategy.

Voice and video consolidation: 3 steps for cleaning up the mess that the pandemic made

First thing’s first: inventory your current UCaaS apps both those implemented formally by IT and those introduced via shadow IT channels (non-sanctioned implementations). Shadow IT discovery tools can help you understand how many apps you currently have running on your network, which ones are redundant, and what the impact of your “UCaaS consolidation” effort would be. These tools provide instant visibility into cloud apps with usage analytics showing which ones are most used. With data driving your strategy, IT leaders can more easily prioritize which apps should stay or go.

Next, evaluate your options for consolidation, considering both applications, providers, and the network services behind them. Think not just about which tools and vendors you want to be beholden to and how their solutions are evolving with the latest innovations, but also about the IT infrastructures supporting them. Network providers and their platforms can serve as on-ramps to the cloud, offering direct connectivity to those critical voice and video applications.

Network service consolidation can also be helpful, as can 24/7 application performance monitoring services. These not only make the user experience more consistent across today’s distributed workforce locations, but they remove burdens from your corporate IT team. Many of our clients at Masergy are struggling with the spikes in network demand these bandwidth-intensive apps have on their IT resources. With fully managed services, your IT team doesn’t have to spin their wheels troubleshooting or be the sole “babysitter” for video apps. Additionally, service level agreements and even cloud SLAs for direct cloud interconnections can help improve service reliability.

Simplicity of management is also key. One dashboard means better visibility into Mean opinion score (MOS), app performance per location, and real-time performance analytics, with AI intelligence helping to predict and prevent outages proactively via AIOps.

Finally, remember that partnership is paramount — not “pie in the sky” promises but actual partnership. This doesn’t mean perfection but rather transparency, accessibility, responsiveness, and responsibility (think “TARR” for quick reference). Many voice, video, and UCaaS apps are commoditized, with lookalike providers offering virtually the same features. Don’t worry about whether the technology will work. We’re all using it already. Worry about whose boat you’re going to be tied to for the next year or multi-year contract term. What’s most important is the service experience and the level of support you get. Of course, every provider will say their support is great. Get to the nitty-gritty to tease out the differences:

  • How quickly will your UCaaS provider inform you of a network or service outage, and perhaps most importantly, what will happen then?
  • How fast can you get service, and what are the issue escalation processes?
  • What is the provider doing to prevent finger-pointing when it comes to network problems?
  • Will you get a dedicated account manager?

Another tip: It’s extremely important that you migrate to a unified approach with certainty. Hybrid cloud deployments, SIP trunking, and PSTN replacement offer a stepping-stone approach to a fully hosted model where companies can create their own timelines for migration rather than taking a rip-and-replace approach. Look for a service provider that offers prudent, measured migration strategies. Then, you can make the move to your new service with confidence.

If you’re dealing with post-COVID collaboration complications, don’t stress. Masergy helps countless organizations like yours create a consolidated approach that you can be confident in. Learn more about our approach here, or click here to schedule a consultation with our team

Michael Long

As the Director of Solutions Engineering at Masergy, Michael Long is responsible for 11 solutions engineers who perform presales design and engineering domestically and throughout the world. Michael began his career in the Army and while attending Florida State, he worked for the university building one of the nation’s first educational networks. He was also one of the first engineers hired for a startup called BellSouth.net, where he spent the next 15 years expanding his experience as an IT advisor.

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