Centralise and simplify UC management for productivity and employee gains

22 September 2023

Bertrand Ramé, chief commercial officer, Kurmi Software

Bertrand Ramé, chief commercial officer, Kurmi Software

The acronym for unified communications (UC) is widely accepted to include an extra C for collaboration. Modern enterprise is fuelled by communication and collaboration like never before. Technology that brings colleagues and customers together has been around for decades, but now it is relied on to a much greater degree and has become mission critical.

The transformation in the workplace that had been building over the past decade rapidly accelerated in 2020 when the pandemic hit. Prior to that time, organisations were steadily adopting technologies to integrate voice calls, online meetings over video, chat, and SMS conversations with customers at a comfortable pace. They were also happy to integrate the transition to UC cloud platforms within their overall digital transformation strategies. Then things changed dramatically.

The nforceed distance between colleagues and customers saw the rapid rollout and adoption of technologies to enable remote working from home. A new hero was born: the IT administrator, whose job it became to make sure business conversations and collaboration could continue. Now, UC has become an accepted part of working life for most UK organisations, and IT admin teams are still charged with the resource intensive task of maintaining large, complex UC ecosystems.

What makes keeping unified comms unified such a complex task?

If we go back to first principles, communication and collaboration is all about people. We expect to be able to work and talk with the people we need to, whenever we need to. Technology is an enabler for that process, which many of us take for granted. We tend only to notice it when it doesn’t work, or when it’s difficult to move from one system to another, or when we have to move to an unfamiliar tool.

As UC consumers, we want continuity and familiarity, and IT teams increasingly want to provide users with a portfolio of applications to choose from. As a result of our changing work patterns such as remote work, and greater familiarity with digital tools in our home lives, organisations are now using tools from a variety of different UC vendors. This makes life difficult for the IT teams who are responsible for ensuring users have access to the right tools to communicate and collaborate. And, as organisations move technology into the cloud, more applications and systems become available to users.

Where there are thousands of users accessing multiple applications from different platform vendors, managing change is a major undertaking. As a result, UC management becomes exponentially more complex and potentially prone to error, with an impact on both productivity and employee satisfaction.

In the UK, where the employment market is more fluid than it is in countries like France and Germany, the volume of work involved in moving, adding, changing, or deleting users within an organisation’s UC environment is substantial.

Completing these MACDs (moves, adds, changes, deletes) is highly resource-intensive. In a survey carried out by Kurmi Software, 72% UCC practitioners and managers worldwide said they spent as much as half of their time each week on end-user MACDs in their organisation’s UC platforms. A lot of that time will be spent managing users via the administration portals of different UC platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Avaya, and others.

The same survey found that 83% of respondents need more than 30 minutes to manually onboard every new user onto their organization’s UCC platform, and the vast majority of these were seeing errors in more than a third of all records. It’s no surprise that 84% of UCC practitioners and managers worldwide agree that automation is critical to keep pace with the volume of work caused by growing numbers of end-users and frequency of user changes within their organisations.

The benefits of centralised, simplified management

Automating these processes through a ‘single-pane-of-glass’ solution gives IT teams a central point of control over the entire UC ecosystem. It makes tasks faster and releases the time of specialist administration teams to add value elsewhere. One of the major challenges in a multi-vendor UC environment is that, while each platform has an administration portal for IT teams to perform MACDs and other admin, they are vendor-specific. Any change across the multiple systems has to be administered separately on each platform. This only adds to the complexity and workload.

Centralising and simplifying unified communications management is only going to become more critical as the world of work continues to evolve, and new technologies come on board. A vendor-neutral, independent central control system is proving highly effective for organisations around the world, improving communication and collaboration among colleagues and boosting employee satisfaction levels among their IT admin teams. Because, in the end, unified communications is all about people.