Unified Communications: The Buying Trends of 1,000 IT Decision Makers

A recent Cisco® study polled more than 1,000 IT decision makers asking them to explain their intent, reasoning, and selection criteria behind their unified communications investments. The results offer valuable insights for enterprises following in their footsteps.

  • Learn about the most-wanted features and service options
  • Get a checklist of the elements that comprise complete solutions
  • Explore three types of adjacent services that differentiate providers

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IT executives are increasingly being asked to drive a workforce revolution, reinvigorating the enterprise to behave more like a start-up and implementing advanced technologies that help foster fresh ideas. In their quest for digital transformation, executives often prioritize communication technology investments, because productivity and mobility are proven strategies in enhancing the experience for both customers and employees.

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solutions deliver superior flexibility, reliability, and scalability when compared to predecessor systems such as Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and private branch exchange (PBX). As a result, enterprises are increasingly trading aging, premise-based communications systems that have powered their business for the past 100+ years with UCaaS platforms.

What is top of mind when enterprises want more than just a dial tone from their UCaaS purchase? More than 1,000 IT buyers have answered this question.

A recent BroadSoft Cloud Collaboration study polled more than 1,000 IT decision makers asking them to explain their intent, reasoning, and selection criteria behind their unified communications investments. The results offer valuable insights for enterprises following in their footsteps.

ABOUT THE SURVEY

  • Enterprise end users’ perspective on unified communications
  • Part of BroadSoft annual cloud collaboration industry analysis
  • 1,005 enterprise IT decision makers
  • 7 countries on all continents
  • Size segments representative of UCaaS market
  • Broad sector/industry representation

CLOUD MOMENTUM

  • A large majority of businesses are considering cloud UC
  • Buying decisions expected in the next 24 months
  • Cloud UC addresses core business digital transformation priorities
  • Premise systems are poised for cloud migration

PRIORITIES

  • Integrated communication, collaboration and contact center
  • Rich mobile and multidevice experience
  • Bundles with adjacent services
  • Business process integration
  • Intelligence: Artificial intelligence, analytics and context awareness

SERVICE ESSENTIALS

  • Service providers are strongly positioned to leverage superior security, reliability and service bundling
  • Competition from global SaaS players is intensifying
  • Digital engagement and delivery channels are essential

Big benefits drive rapid, mass adoption

According to the survey, cloud unified communications adoption is reaching a critical mass, making buying decisions imminent within the next two years. The upswing is driven by the array of benefits that simplify IT complexities associated with legacy systems and lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the enterprise.

Business drivers: cost, functionality, and risk

Unified communications solutions are viewed as core to digital transformation strategies because they address key challenges across the enterprise. With these pain points reaching into all departments, investments are easily justifiable as the potential for ROI increases.

What buyers want: complete and integrated solutions

Beyond its effect on cost, functionality, and risk, unified communications technologies have a strategic impact that buyers find attractive. According the survey, executives want a complete and integrated solution that helps them build organizational synergy across the customer experience ecosystem.

Specifically, they want integration among three foundational elements of the enterprise:

  • communication
  • collaboration
  • service delivery channels

These are core connective tissues of the customer experience, and when they work in concert true differentiation happens. In fact, the survey shows that when modern technologies empower employees to work in partnership across these elements, enterprises recognize 70+% improvements in:

  • productivity
  • cost savings
  • complexity reductions
  • effective customer interactions

So, what makes a unified communication solution complete and integrated?

The most-wanted features: innovative bundles and public internet options

Most solutions will offer multi-channel features including voice, video conferencing, video calling, and instant messaging, so differentiating providers often comes down to feature nuances and feature bundling. Sophisticated features will meet the demands of those with advanced requirements, and flexible bundling capabilities with flat pricing will make it easier to pick and choose the components (a la carte) that best suit unique needs.

Chances are, you will want to combine at least two to three features, according to the BroadSoft survey. IT decision makers reported their most popular feature bundles as broadband connectivity with service quality guarantees, cloud storage and application hosting, closely followed by multi-device functionality

A checklist: five elements that comprise complete solutions

Complete and integrated solutions deliver on flexibility, scalability, and usability, offering the following features and capabilities.

  • A single solution that delivers one experience across all devices
  • Service and feature bundles with ample network connectivity options and adjacent services
  • Multiple deployment options that create smooth technology transitions
  • Integration with a variety of applications, including office applications, business systems and social media
  • Cloud contact center options

A smooth deployment: not a matter of if but when

With UCaaS adoption reaching the mainstream, IT leaders are increasingly being asked to rip and replace orphaned communications systems or create custom migration paths that usher in new tools on a schedule that compliments maturing technologies and end-of-life calendars. Either way, the cut-over process can be scary, and decision makers are seeking to understand how their peers are navigating a smooth journey.

Legacy PBX investments that have not yet reached end-of-life can pose challenges for enterprises seeking to upgrade to cloud communications, but SIP trunking helps bulldoze the barriers of legacy tools. When a ripand-replace strategy is not feasible, enterprises have the option to leverage SIP trunking capabilities to extend their PBX system with new hosted UCaaS capabilities. As the perfect mashup of old and new, this hybrid approach to deployment creates a frictionless transition by allowing IT leaders to custom design a plan that complements existing technology. In order to deliver hybrid deployment options, providers must run their SIP trunking solutions on the same feature server as their global UCaaS solution. In turn, customers can overlay the most popular UCaaS features into their legacy environment.

Adjacent services are key differentiators

The study shows that the majority of buyers want providers that deliver across the board on network reliability, service quality, and integration features. These priorities rise to the top, because the quality of any unified communications experience is determined by two things: the technology itself (i.e. the end-user endpoint or service features) and the quality of the network performance that backs it. Much of that success depends on adjacent services and partnerships.

Network SLAs

The network is where reliability and service become critical, but evaluating network performance and service level agreements can be tricky. Here are seven metrics to help you simplify an apples-to-apples comparison across network services:

  • In-sequence voice packet delivery percentages
  • Latency metrics guarantees per route (POP to POP)

When a rip-and-replace strategy is not feasible, enterprises have the option to leverage SIP trunking capabilities to extend their PBX system with new hosted UCaaS capabilities.

Learn more about SIP Trunking

  • Jitter metrics in milliseconds (POP to POP)
  • Failover rates
  • End-to-end service availability guarantees
  • Proactive customer notifications
  • Global coverage (delivers localized experience for UCaaS and SIP trunking that includes inbound DID/ DDI and outbound termination capabilities)
  • Customer service ratings and Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Security

Security should be a core consideration with any outsourced network services. Why? Because VoIP phones are essentially networked devices, just like your computer systems. And don’t forget that introducing any new public connectivity access points opens the door to security concerns and may require additional security monitoring. That means you either need to take on the security alert monitoring yourself, or you need to hand those alerts off to a managed security provider who can perform that work for you. With the latter, ideally, you want a cloud communications provider who also offers security monitoring services for an all-encompassing service and smoother customer experience.

Integration Options

The key to catapulting your workforce into the future is usability and mobility. That means quickly infusing new communications capabilities into every business system, including office applications and social media. Out-of-the-box integrations increase the value of communications solutions, reducing the waiting and extra costs that can potentially erode operational and financial benefits. Solutions should pre-integrate with the apps employees and customers use most while also offering API capabilities. Some may even offer integration platform as a service (iPaaS) options, enabling integration without the need for a software development team or third-party professional services. IPaaS gives business administrators simple drag-anddrop integration tools to weave their UCaaS system into hundreds of other cloud applications to automate workflows.

How Masergy UCaaS meets buyer expectations

Masergy provides globally-available unified communications with comprehensive client support. We leverage our carrier grade, multi-tenant global platform to deliver fully-hosted UCaaS and Intelligent SIP Trunking (or a combination of both). With strategic business process integration and deployments to over 450,000 users in over 85 countries we are the ideal communications partner for businesses in a wide range of industries wishing to keep all in-country traffic within region and on-net.

Reliability

One experience built for extreme mobility: Consistent communication across disparate devices regardless of location

Access agnostic: Run Masergy UCaaS over your existing network connection or any broadband service (Connect over private MPLS, public, SD-WAN, hybrid)

Masergy network SLAs: Masergy customers receive high-performing audio and multi-channel communications with these network performance guarantees:

  • 100% in-sequence packet delivery
  • 0% packet loss
  • Less than 1 millisecond of jitter
  • 99.9999% network uptime with built-in disaster recovery and auto failover that minimizes disruptions

Features

Feature-rich bundling: Start with an advanced enterprise bundle, add optional overlay features, select from an array of feature-rich devices, and add features a la carte

Seamless communications across devices: Masergy Communicator HUB pulls conversations from business cloud applications and unifies relevant information in one place

SIP trunking: Robust migration path as a hybrid solution with existing systems

Easy system integration: Native integration with IPaaS from Cloudpipes, seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Office 365 and get standard APIs for custom integration

Cloud contact center: Omni-channel customer interactions with real-time predictive analytics and workforce optimization.

UCaaS analyst: On-demand call statistics and management with custom reporting

IP telephony: Business grade, feature rich, HD voice, cloud-based.

Unified messaging: One inbox for voice, email, and fax.

Instant messaging and presence: Contextual communications with real-time status

Video: Visual collaboration with exceptional clarity and reliability

Conferencing: Pre-scheduled meetings or instant ad hoc collaboration

Call recording: Fully integrated and unlimited with secure web-based storage and playback

WebRTC: real-time audio, video, and data streaming from any web browser

Support

  • 24/7 live support
  • Net Promoter Score: 70+ in 2017 and 2018
  • Customer Retention Rate: 99%

Conclusion

More than 1,000 leaders across the globe have showed others that complete and integrated solutions are preferable because they help build organizational synergy across the customer experience ecosystem. Enterprises that partner with providers who deliver across the board on features, reliability, and service quality will be best suited to reinvigorate both the workplace experience and the overall pace of the organization.

Masergy Cloud UCaaS enables cloud-based UC that is resilient scalable and available anywhere in the world–on any device you use.

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