Cloud-based telephony solutions are increasingly viable alternatives to platforms such as VoIP and TDM. The shift to UCaaS is a natural progression for many businesses and follows data’s widescale move to the cloud. But there are steps you should take to ensure you not only get the ROI you expect from cloud telephony services, but that you remain in control of your UCaaS spend.
Attractions of UCaaS
The cloud adoption path is one that’s easy to navigate without requiring extensive budgeting, planning, or a detailed financial analysis. Business cases for the transition to cloud technologies are relatively straightforward. Hardware expenditures go down, maintenance and administration tasks occupy less of the internal team’s time, and each organization can tune its use and corresponding price points to its unique needs.
Looking at cloud’s benefits—both in terms of higher availability as well as lower costs—it makes sense that enterprises would follow a similar path with voice.
· Eliminate expensive capex for traditional TDM and IP telephony voice systems
· Adopt budget-friendly, consumption-based cost structure on an opex basis
· Reduce overhead and IT resource, administration, and maintenance costs
· Leverage unlimited scalability
· Benefit from tailored, à la carte menus of feature and functionality options
The benefits of cloud telephony are certainly enticing. Without the typical on-premises hardware and middleware requirements, enterprises enjoy greater agility to quickly roll out enhancements and upgrades. The scalability of UCaaS gives companies a way to right-size their implementations and respond to rolling demand cycles or workforce fluctuations. Cloud deployments are easy and ongoing management of UCaaS platforms is simplified compared to the tedious administrative tasks associated with many legacy systems. Call costs are more predictable as well, easing financial concerns. And as cloud technology has matured, its capabilities have become not only very robust but also secure.
What should enterprises do to facilitate the switch to UCaaS?
Given the benefits and advantages of cloud, it’s a good bet that UCaaS technology will continue to displace legacy architectures. To streamline that shift and maintain control throughout the process, enterprises need to change how they monitor, analyze, and manage their communication expenses. The switch from capex to opex often brings with it financial and contractual considerations, and a migration to cloud-based telephony solutions also means that expenditures—types, drivers, and trends—will also evolve.
Analysis of a move to UCaaS should include some key components. It’s critical that your business understands the factors involved in the migration and how these changes will impact your telephony consumption patterns and expenses.
Questions to ask:
· What are our costs and usage of our current systems?
· Are there financial, depreciation, or contractual obligations we need to consider?
· How will our support costs change?
· What integrations (call center, other CTI, etc.) need to be preserved or accommodated?
· What are users’ call requirements?
· What’s our current call volume and how are those calls priced?
Prepare now for the challenges of cloud telephony
Some traditional practices and processes aren’t well suited to managing UCaaS and other cloud solutions. The way your organization maps and allocates telephony costs, for example, may need to change. Access to CDR data might be different, such as through APIs. In addition, some UCaaS providers only store call records for a few months at a time, meaning you could lose critical information unless you plan accordingly.
Because usage and cost metrics are handled differently in cloud-based technologies, it’s difficult for enterprises to effectively analyze and optimize their consumption to eliminate waste and maximize potential savings. License management is similarly challenging, particularly where employees may continue to add seats and/or features on the fly. And with data coming through in formats most traditional TEM platforms aren’t built to process, companies are at risk of losing visibility of how their UCaaS services are purchased and consumed.
· Integration with GL for cost allocation
· Validation of call rates
· Optimization of usage and cost
· Optimization of licenses
· Predictive analytics
· Visibility and reporting
Solutions to UCaaS management roadblocks
A platform with the capacity to pull data out of your UCaaS solution will enable you to store call record information and conduct analytics on a cycle that fits your budget needs. Technology that can validate and check calls at a granular level, similar to a traditional call accounting solution but with the ability to process cloud-based data as well, will also help your business optimize its cloud telephony usage and costs over time. You can then leverage predictive analytics to look at call data at multiple layers—by location, division, business unit, and user level—as well as across your entire enterprise.
Implementing a solution that can push analytics and recommendations through a single portal to incorporate it with other costs provides powerful insight into your telecom expenditures and consumption. These capabilities are mature in the traditional TEM space, but now leading platforms are available that include data from cloud telephony services to enhance the holistic view you have of your spend data. These innovative technologies mimic the capabilities of established call accounting systems to validate call records—which can easily stretch into the tens of thousands in a UCaaS environment—against the most current rate tables, identify discrepancies, and even check for fraud.
To maintain control of your telephony consumption and spend as you add UCaaS services to your portfolio, it’s important to implement technology that can deliver full-scope insight and apply analytics across every type of telephony.