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Unified communications analytics mature to verify business value

There is more than one way to showcase the value of unified communications in the boardroom. UC analytics can help companies obtain the metrics they need to prove a business case.

Enterprises were slow to adopt unified communications. UC was complex, and in the beginning, use cases weren't clear. Since then, cloud-based offerings have matured, and as vendors addressed issues around complexity, UC-as-a-service adoption has grown considerably. With COVID-19 pushing many employees from office to home, the use case for UCaaS has never been stronger. The more distributed the workforce, the greater the utility for UCaaS, especially since it provides consistent UX, regardless of location or interfaces used.

UCaaS standardizes communications and workflows and, in the process, generates many forms of new data that can help workers be more productive and organizations more efficient. This creates a prime opportunity to use unified communications analytics as a means to go beyond standard reporting and thus provide a sharper picture of how UCaaS provides business value.

The analytics space is rapidly evolving to meet these needs with tools that are AI-driven and focus more on predictive outcomes. Let's examine two basic types of unified communications analytics applications and their benefits.

Adoption analytics. This set of analytics serves to identify what applications are being used, and although that seems pretty basic, there is still a lot of intrinsic value. These metrics would primarily benefit IT, as they would illuminate how extensively the UCaaS platform is being used, especially for specific features. This is important for several reasons. First, IT can better manage network resources and optimize investment to properly support UCaaS.

Second, over time, adoption analytics will give IT valuable insights about the usage patterns for each UC application -- notably, frequency of use, duration, how it's used with other applications and when it is adopted and/or stopped. These metrics can help IT make resource-based decisions, such as how many desk phones the business needs or which workers need PC upgrades and peripherals, such as webcams or headphones, so they can stay productive at home.

The key benefit here is that home-based workers -- who otherwise might proceed by trial and error --may not be familiar with all the applications supported by UC, and analytics can help them find the right mix for each type of task or project.

Once historical data is compiled, adoption analytics can also serve as a guide to help workers learn about using the best mix of applications for specific tasks or workflows. These insights need not be restricted to UCaaS, as analytics could also identify scenarios where the usage of these applications would be enhanced by applications from other platforms. The key benefit here is that home-based workers -- who otherwise might proceed by trial and error -- may not be familiar with all the applications supported by UC, and analytics can help them find the right mix for each type of task or project.

Engagement analytics. Whereas adoption analytics explains what applications are used, engagement analytics highlights how they are used. This would be a more prescriptive use of analytics that showcases how UCaaS drives productivity and improves UX. This is especially relevant now with so many workers at home with no peers to turn to for advice on the fly. Equally important, these analytics will help IT better support workers from a distance, providing such features as remote troubleshooting, quality of service monitoring, cyberthreat detection and compliance alerts.

Engagement-based unified communications analytics can also be used as a learning tool to help companies develop best practices aimed at helping workers collaborate more effectively with UC. Everyone will have a learning curve with UC -- especially with applications such as video and whiteboarding -- and analytics can definitely help shorten it.

Another benefit is monitoring team participation. Group productivity is difficult to measure, yet the UC business decision is largely based on increasing performance. IT will be keenly interested in these types of metrics, especially if management had reservations about deploying UC. Again, with so many workers being home-based, it can be difficult to determine how much each team member is actually contributing.

This is a prime use case for analytics, especially for companies yet to establish team-based productivity metrics. One method would be to track the active involvement of each team member over the course of a project, using yardsticks such as meeting attendance, participation and whether the employee is leading or following the conversation. Other indicators would be to record whether the team member's contributions are accepted or rejected by the group or how well each member completed assigned tasks.

These are just a few examples of the advantages of engagement-based unified communications analytics, and the benefits are even greater when these applications become AI-driven. You should expect to see more of this in 2021 with vendors offering such tools as voice biometrics to authenticate whether a particular worker can join a meeting or gain access to project-based documents.

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