This article answers the question, “What are the most important factors that I (as an IT Director or CIO) should consider as I evaluate an upgrade to my Unified Communications solution?”
And, outlines the 3 steps that every organization should go through before executing on digital initiatives that involve UC / UCaaS.
“After several years of laying the foundation…, chief information officers at leading companies say they are focused in 2019 on executing new digital initiatives,” The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal states.
We are in a unique time in the market, where we are seeing a full portfolio of voice solutions to be able to address a customer’s requirements. Whether the requirement is a rip-and-replace move to a multi-tenant cloud UCaaS, or an upgrade to a traditional on-site UC solution, or a migration to a private-cloud hybrid UCaaS solution. Within the TTx customer base, we have assisted organizational transformation through each of those methods. Mitel’s CEO has a relevant perspective as he shares,
“As I’ve said before, every business will move to the cloud, but that doesn’t mean customers want to be constrained by a single option or approach.” Rich McBee, President, and CEO of Mitel states. “What has become very clear as we continue to engage with customers at varying stages of this journey is that not only are their technology needs different, but so is the way they want to interact with their technology providers and their expectations of the sales process and customer service experience. I don’t see [the market] all going UCaaS, maybe the analogy I can give you is the real estate market. The whole market is not going to be going to the rental market. There are still going to be people that want to buy and own their homes and that mix goes back and forth. “But the fact of the matter is there are going to be people who want to buy their systems and there are going to be people who want to rent their systems.”
The most important part of the buyer’s journey is aligning, internally, on the digital transformation strategy of the organization. So what do we recommend customers consider as they’re going through their own buyer’s journey?
Step 1: Align on the business impact of your voice solution
Is the phone system an integrated, core part of your business delivery mechanism? Or is it contextual?
If you own an independent retail storefront, you need phones. But phones are probably not integrated into the core of your business. But, if you have a big call center or a large inbound customer service group, Unified Communications is your business. Any optimization that can integrate disparate applications that are predominantly vertical-specific to your industry has a direct impact on the bottom line of your business – either from a revenue generation or cost savings standpoint.
Are you going to own your assets? Or, are you going to rent your assets?
Objectively speaking, the market is moving toward UCaaS. That market is projected to double over the next 5 years, and every manufacturer is spending a lot of money and time marketing those products to capture that growth. There are quite a few players who are competing for subscribership on platforms that have been rapidly developing. However, by volume that is still a relatively small share of the overall voice market. It is projected that 85% of the addressable market will purchase traditional UC voice systems over the next 5 years.
For a time in the last 5 years, the market contained an inconsistency in how IT organizations wanted to purchase voice systems from a financial standpoint, and how they wanted to deploy and support them from a management standpoint. To address this, the open architecture of some traditional UC platforms have been leveraged to create some really stable private-cloud or hybrid solutions, delivered as a monthly operational expense.
Step 2: Align on the deployment and support plan for your voice solution
Are you going to actively deploy, manage, and support your voice environment? Or, do you want a 3rd party to take on that responsibility?
One of the less-advertised challenges with the current UCaaS multi-tenant market is the lack of partner involvement in network planning and cut-over. Today, the manufacturers are claiming that they can take this on without the need for a partner channel. But there is an emerging understanding that independent organizations like TTx are allies, critical to the success of not only cut-over but the long-term support of these systems. If you read forums or reviews on the most popular solutions on the market today, this becomes a critical expectation that should be clearly communicated prior to selecting a service provider.
Though heavyweight, complex and highly integrated UC solutions are driving business value and critical to organization success, it’s no secret that network engineers are eager to sign over some of the basic (move/add/change) management responsibility to a 3rd party.
Additional questions would be, “Is my digital transformation plan highly integrated or highly standardized?” And, “is my infrastructure geographically centralized or multi-geographic?”
After those questions are answered, it’s not a question of, “are you going to cloud, or not?” It’s really, “what cloud technology elements are you going to leverage, and how do your disparate technology systems integrate?”
Once you decide whether you are an out-of-the-box-capable organization from an IT infrastructure standpoint or if you require some type of customization or integration, you can eliminate additional options. You will find it to be a challenge to purchase a multi-tenant cloud UCaaS voice system if you have a highly integrated infrastructure that requires network planning and any sort of implementation management support. Or, you may find that you don’t need all of the features of a heavyweight UC solution if your requirements are standardized.
Step 3: Present your plan to multiple vendors and ask for a customized demo.
Present your digital transformation strategy to your top 3 vendors and ask to see a demo that is catered to your environment, specifically. The really great news for 2019 is that there are solutions that we feel really good about presenting to most of the marketplace today. That wasn’t the case in 2016 for sure, and like most of you, we’ve been spending a lot of our time evaluating UCaaS solutions for the last few years. At this point, we believe there are some really great solutions to meet the needs of environments in all categories – small, medium, large, standardized, complex, highly-integrated, simple, etc… Now, we’re focused on helping customers through their own unique buyer’s journey. It’s confusing, complicated, and there are a lot of products out there.
Most of the time when we see frustration with technology products, it’s either because of the way it was implemented, how it has been integrated, or that the customer simply bought a product that wasn’t ideal for their environment.
Though we have tried to present unbiased analysis of the voice market for 2019, we’ve built a business around helping organizations like yours go through these steps. At TTx, we are focusing our efforts on guiding IT Departments through the execution process as it relates to the dynamic UC and UCaaS space every day. While our customers may overhaul their communications systems once every 5-10 years, we design and deploy multiple solutions across multiple providers on an ongoing basis.
If you need any assistance, we’re here to help. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our reps to answer your specific questions. Or, we’re prepared to dive deep with you into your digital transformation plan and provide our recommendation based on the accumulation of our experience and analysis.
If you want to read more, we’ve interviewed Nate Petry, our VP of Business Development and Brandon Kenney, our COO to answer some of the common questions they are answering “in the field” as we consult our clients through these decision-making criteria.