Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) plays an increasingly key role for corporate digital transformation strategies as companies seek to appeal to customer needs and opportunities, increase productivity, streamline processes, and create better business outcomes. Analyst firm IDC forecasts a solid 7,1 percent compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2023 for the UC&C market, with key drivers including cloud solutions, mobility, and collaborative applications.
As companies increasingly rely on UC&C to support business strategies and deliver competitive advantage, strong network performance has emerged as a primary success factor. With that in mind, we’ve identified three UC&C trends that will impact enterprises in 2020 and beyond.
1. Holistic visibility becomes mission-critical.
When it comes to UC&C, IT managers face the daunting task of delivering the highest quality of service possible despite all the moving parts involved. Those moving parts can lead to performance problems that ultimately result in a poor user experience. When problems crop up—and they always do—IT must quickly determine the source and restore functionality. But identifying problems on a complex shared infrastructure that spans service provider networks, SIP trunks, WANs, and SD-WANs is challenging without an end-to-end view into network and application performance.
Lacking sufficient network visibility, IT teams are left in the dark as to what’s causing problems and who is responsible for them. They need holistic visibility—into the network, into virtualized data centers, and across technology vendors—to ensure the entire service chain is functioning optimally. Delivering the quality of experience required by the enterprise depends on IT’s ability to see all of the interdependencies. After all, you can’t fix it if you can’t see it.
2. UCaaS clouds visibility.
Adoption of UC as a service (UCaaS) is poised to grow significantly in 2021, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. However, one of several challenges with UCaaS is that a business must trust that its service provider is in lockstep in terms of the service quality required, because the business does not own or have access to the infrastructure. That means that once services go out to the cloud, visibility is lost.
Therefore, collaboration between the enterprise and the provider is critical. One solution is for companies to use synthetic testing solutions that essentially automate a testing protocol to continuously determine whether the UC&C service is working properly and alerts IT when a problem exists. It’s not a perfect solution because it can’t pinpoint the precise issues occurring within the cloud, but it will allow IT to alert service providers of the issue on their end, leading to faster resolution.
3. Contact centers are on the UC&C front line.
An increasing number of companies are turning to UC&C technologies for their contact centers to deliver the range of options and services customers demand. QoS is crucial here, because dropped or poor-quality calls will degrade user experience. While visibility into call quality is vital, it’s complicated by the many moving parts, including servers, network infrastructure, firewalls, session border controllers, and other infrastructure components. Although IT teams can monitor individual devices—such as looking at CPU utilization to see how servers are performing—gaining critical insights into how the service itself is performing can be difficult, particularly in a converged network environment.
We expect the use of packet data to help solve this issue. Using hardware and software probes, enterprises can achieve pervasive visibility into packet traffic and the performance of application workloads. And by processing and analyzing this packet data at the point of collection, key performance metrics can be developed to provide a view of the service’s performance, which can help establish the root cause of the problem.