October 21, 2022
With more people than ever working remotely at least part of the time, many companies have made or are in the process of making significant upgrades to their communication and collaboration technology. Mindsight’s Principal Consultant John Irey shared some thoughts on what’s currently happening and what needs to happen in the UCaaS space.
The rise of Unified Communications as a Service
It’s more in our faces because it’s no longer just a phone on our desk, it’s now applications we use every day. And a very large part of that is because today’s hybrid or remote workforce has to be connected. Various platforms let us chat with each other, call each other, hold video conversations. The UC suite has become so prevalent in our everyday work life. I think 2023 is going to be the year of transition. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone’s just going drop what they’re doing and go to the Cloud, but there’s been enough traction there and the adoption curve has been strong enough that the next wave of companies that were waiting for a hardware refresh or software licensing to expire is going to have to make a decision. But the type of decision depends on a company’s size. Smaller companies might transition directly to the cloud. For larger companies, though, 2023 might be the year where they start a roadmap of how to get there in the next 18 or 24 months. Some of them will do everything in-house. Some will decide they have too much on their plate and there’s too little talent available, so they’ll hire a managed services provider like Mindsight to help them make the transition.
Prioritizing security for remote and hybrid workers
From what I’ve seen, a lot more companies are adapting broader applications and support for both premise-based users and remote users by doing things like protecting against potentially malicious websites and file types. They’re also having employees use VPNs instead of just random public Wi-Fi in order to keep everything buttoned up. The same level of security is applied as if they were working in the office.
The continuing importance of video communication
The best experience is in person, but that can’t always happen. So the next best experience is video conferencing. But users still have vastly different experiences based on their internet speeds and the quality of their cameras, so that’s always a challenge. Sometimes it’s because too many people are sharing the Wi-Fi signal and three of them are playing Fortnite or watching Netflix.
The interoperability of communications tools
One major challenge in what I do is what I’ll call BYOM — Bring Your Own Meeting. Companies spend all of this money on conference rooms with big screens and touch boards and amazing cameras and microphones. But if you need to jump on a Teams or Zoom meeting with a Webex setup, certain things need to be in place. The same holds true for jumping on a Microsoft Team meeting with a Zoom Room. There are ways to reboot and reconfigure systems so they’re compatible, but that isn’t a seamless experience for an end user who’s not very technically inclined. Fixing it is going to require more industry cooperation, but things seem to be improving with some configuration and the correct licensing.
The role of data and analytics
Call centers have long used data collection and analysis to improve the end-user experience. But all that data — call quality and connectivity issues, customer complaints — was post-processed. Now we’ve gotten to a point where computers and cloud services, using sophisticated natural language processing, can understand what’s being said on a phone call or during a video conference call in real-time and quickly transcribe that information for agents and supervisors — the latter of whom can listen in and coach. The AI technology picks up on words, phrases and intent to differentiate between positive and negative interactions so companies can more immediately and effectively assist their customers. Rather than addressing issues days or weeks after they occur, they’re addressed in the moment. It provides a whole other level of training and responsiveness.
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About The Expert
John Irey is the VP of Consulting Services at Mindsight, an IT Services and Consulting firm located in the Chicago area. With nearly 20 years of experience in information technology, John has helped businesses of every size optimize the technology powering the contact center. He has extensive experience with contact center technologies and seeks to provide a consultative voice to contact center leaders, who rely on Mindsight’s transparency to make the best technology investments. John earned his BA/BS in Information Systems and continues to focus on how emerging technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, impact the contact center. John enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two young children.