Last year, we all witnessed the great rush to unified communications solutions, from medical centers using telemedicine applications to limit high-risk patient interactions to millions of businesses and schools adopting video conferencing apps for remote work and distance learning. While most of these technologies look and feel the same, none will perform the way they were designed to without the right support systems, services, and partners behind them.
In fact, these days it’s what’s behind the technology curtain that matters most.
The user experience, service experience, and the level of support and security you get are much more important today than simply the lookalike features of your collaboration tools. It all boils down to three things:
With active monthly users still skyrocketing, collaboration software providers have it really good today, but that doesn’t mean things are great for the customer. Many collaboration solutions don’t come pre-packaged with high-performance network services to ensure the most predictable application performance. This can lead to latency and jitter, which hurts the user experience, disrupts business, and makes it difficult for IT teams to deliver consistent communications service to employees located all across the globe.
There also needs to be a top-tier service monitoring team dedicated to 24/7 responsiveness. Who is watching and advocating for your service quality? How quickly will your UCaaS provider inform you of a network or service outage and, more importantly, what will happen next? 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 the network service provider and internet service provider? Will you get a dedicated account manager? These are all critical questions to consider.
Collaboration software providers are scrambling to launch new security features as people continue to work and learn from home, but are they global leaders in the security market? The security of cloud communications cannot be taken for granted, especially if IT needs to integrate multiple systems across clouds. Does your provider offer network security and cloud security capabilities embedded in the solution? Do they deliver security add-ons like firewalls, continuous threat monitoring, and incident response services? Do they help you address other work-from-home security issues like endpoint detection and response? Not only do you need performance and uptime assurance, you also need security assurance–and it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Think security-first collaboration.
Companies need to consolidate – and it’s not just all the different collaboration apps they’ve acquired over the past two years but also providers, dashboards, and services. Putting UC, network services, and security services under one roof offers much needed IT visibility and simplicity. Plus, it gets companies the experience they want now and for the long haul. Having multiple network dashboards can make it hard for IT to see what’s happening inside the network. Network service consolidation takes the burden off the client and makes it easier to troubleshoot and identify any issues more quickly.
When evaluating your options for consolidation, think not only about specific tools and vendors but also about the IT infrastructures behind your solution. Network providers and their platforms are your on-ramps to the cloud, offering direct connectivity to the critical voice and video applications you need to succeed (more on this below).
At the end of the day, many collaboration apps are commoditized, offering virtually the same features. It’s not so much about whether the technology will work (it will), but more so about whose boat you’re going to be tied to for the next year or multi-year contract term. The most important thing to prioritize is the user experience, the service experience, and the level of support you get.
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