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The criteria to gauge the business value of collaboration tools have not been clearly defined as the sales push for these tools is cloud-focused, where the buying decision is based on Opex and not Capex. As consumable services, offerings like unified communications as a service don't require the same ROI scrutiny as capitalized hardware. While cost savings is a universal metric for business value, it's not a realistic driver for UCaaS and collaboration buying decisions.
As a result, performance metrics for UCaaS and collaboration are mainly operational and reflect use and adoption. These metrics help IT assess how UCaaS and collaboration tools are used across the organization, but they don't really gauge the business-level effects, such as whether collaboration efforts are leading to better decisions or measurable outcomes.
The value of such metrics should be self-evident but has yet to emerge as it is difficult to quantify. For now, operational metrics are the best yardstick to judge the value of collaboration tools. Organizations have two sets of collaboration metrics to consider.
IT metrics measure resource use
The first set of collaboration metrics is most relevant to IT as it pertains to the use of resources. These metrics include an extensive set of network diagnostics to track factors such as how collaboration apps are affecting broadband usage, how much app traffic is on the corporate network and quality of service (QoS).
QoS can be helpful in showing how audio and video quality for company-deployed collaboration apps is superior to end user-chosen, consumer-grade apps. Another important resource to track usage is meeting spaces. Collaboration apps provide valuable metrics on which spaces are being used, for how long, by how many participants and at what time of day.
Collaboration metrics for employee use and adoption
The second set of metrics focuses on both end-user activity and adoption for each collaboration app. At the end-user level, IT can track who is using the apps, as well as how they're being used. Key examples include the number of end-user meetings, the length of meetings, where they're meeting and with whom.
These metrics also offer insight into which modes employees are using to collaborate, such as voice, video and messaging, as well as the capabilities used to work in teams, such as file sharing, cobrowsing, screen sharing and content creation.
IT has never had this level of detail before, so it will take time to determine which metrics provide the most value. This is certainly a better starting point than what organizations have now with legacy, stand-alone apps, and the effort to make that determination will certainly be worthwhile.
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