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Part 2: The UCaaS Enterprise Spend Black Hole

May 18, 2021

Earlier we explored the challenges of managing UCaaS spend in today’s dynamic environment. Now we’ll take a broader look at the factors deepening the problem, including the widening SaaS market and its acceleration driven by the rapid evolution and transformation of enterprise-connected services, from traditional and hybrid managed to cloud and app managed.

Shifts in How (and Where) Work is Done

We've seen the growing dominance of cloud-based enterprise, from platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to software-as-a-service (SaaS), with more businesses adopting a hybrid approach to their network transformation strategies. Current trends indicate management of back-end services as either a PaaS or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), where the enterprise fully controls all layers except for the physical layer, protecting sensitive data or coding. Front-end and customer-facing tools are increasingly managed as SaaS apps, where secure public access is more the case and organizations rely on cloud management of access and app security, monitoring and control.

UCaaS, such as Teams, Zoom, RingCentral, Cisco Webex, etc., is itself a SaaS application and its role in enterprise communication and collaboration has expanded. With work-from-home (WFH) and remote or distributed workforces becoming the new norm for many organizations, this shift toward SaaS apps will likely continue. More front-end customer interactions are also now done entirely via conference calling, contributing to the growth in digital engagement solutions.

Automation—another new focus driving accelerated SaaS growth—is further redefining the customer experience. Using meta data and multiple source feeds, enterprises see the value in deploying AI to provide varying layers of analysis and deliver targeted data. App providers’ responses to these needs have varied, ranging from single-purpose utility (e.g., DocuSign, Dropbox) to highly complex, integrated applications, such as Salesforce, O365 and SAP Concur. But the utility of these applications, which saw massive expansion and increased use over the last year, raises challenges for enterprises around management of usage and cost.

Increased complexity requires more powerful management tools

Like UCaaS, projections show continued growth of microservice add-ons and increase in complexity as niche players jump on the acceleration of digital transformation in the enterprise. Like the growth of cloud-based telephony in UCaaS environments, new SaaS stars are emerging that will focus on delivering products that add value to the enterprise drive towards automation and technology modernization. The problem of managing SaaS environments, large as it is now, is bound to become larger, more expensive and more complex moving forward.

Businesses need the right insight to manage growing SaaS environments

There are many software asset management (SAM) and service integrator (SI) companies in the marketplace, and they’ve helped enterprises manage their subscriptions at an aggregate level. What’s missing is the means to analyze not only app utilization or determine the best app based on need, but also the capability to manage the cost and utilization of apps. Advancements in SaaS platforms bring additional challenges that aren’t well served by traditional management solutions, such as how best to manage the hundreds of fee-based, add-on applications that provide complementary services through increasingly complex SaaS applications such as Salesforce.

The missing piece for enterprises includes information at the user level or any level of enterprise hierarchy, location or other organizational reporting level for each app:

  • Used and unused subscriptions
  • Utilization for each billing period
  • Recommendations for free or lower-cost plan options based on usage profile and trends
  • Microservices additionally subscribed to and usage for each (a major area of waste)
  • Tools to drive policy compliance for app and microservices subscriptions (procurement)
  • Advanced analytics around enterprise services based on geo, market segment, app use, etc.
  • Custom-designed views and reports to meet unique client requirements for decision making, marketing, cost control, etc.
  • Allocation of cost based on GL or other methodologies
  • Intelligent business analytics for visibility, management, reporting and optimization at all organizational levels (comparative analysis, budgeting, forecasting, and projecting, trending, etc.)

This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything today’s enterprises require, but it illustrates the hole that needs filling. Full-fledged app use accountability and planning capabilities are just not available from legacy platforms today.

Innovative management solutions that can span the range of assimilating data from contracts, invoices and APIs and then utilize AI to automate the analysis of these disparate data points into actionable, intelligent results will remove cost unpredictability and provide visibility into discrete costs for this very complex area of enterprise spend.

Businesses need solutions to help manage and control SaaS and UCaaS spend. While the retirement or transformation of traditional premise-based services to cloud-based solutions represents an incredible cost-saving opportunity for organizations considering alternatives to their traditional or IP-based telephony system, such strategies bring particular challenges around managing data for a brand new, not-yet-standardized set of information that is still in a state of flux.

Like the innovative solutions driving cloud telephony and the microservices attached to larger SaaS apps like Salesforce, new digital services continue to emerge. Technologies such as 5G, faster chipsets and the continued growth of RPA (and, more importantly, AI-managed RPA) will drive new innovations. These increasingly complex services—from a use and cost management perspective—need advanced tools to manage them. A small handful of technology providers are driving innovation around analyzing and providing actionable BI related to usage and cost at the line level. Enterprises seeking to bring order and control to their expanding SaaS environments should connect with one of these partners to deliver the insight and management capabilities necessary to monitor and optimize the growing set of cloud-based apps.

Where Calero-MDSL Can Help

Interested in managing your UCaaS and SaaS subscriptions and costs? Calero-MDSL offers a platform to discover and analyze subscription costs and usage in a single integrated solution. Stay ahead and get started with our solution or contact us for more information.

Written by Sheikh Ali

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