Contact Center Metrics: The Importance of First Call Resolution

c--users-217216x706252-pictures-nec-contact-center-first-call-resolutionTech professionals love their acronyms, and FCR—First Call Resolution in customer service industries and contact centers is no different. Lately, it seems every vertical industry has its vocabulary; with an acronym for every ideology, methodology, principle, and strategy. Most of these terms have been discussed to death—to the extent that it becomes difficult to get excited about the topic at all.

FCR is one of the acronyms we don’t see nearly enough of, though; which becomes evident when running a simple search for the term. In fact, search engines seem to return every generic name for FCR other than the one discussed here.

FCR is one of the five most important operational metrics in today’s contact centers and is also one of the key drivers of customer satisfaction. You would think that in a challenging economic environment, one that is increasingly focused on the importance of customer satisfaction in a word-of-mouth-equals-free-marketing-distribution kind of world, that the topic would be written about so extensively that it would dominate search engine results.

So why aren’t we talking about it?

Contacts vs. Calls

Customer relationship managers use FCR to mean two principles/metrics that are often used interchangeably—when they shouldn’t be. Is FCR first contact resolution or first call resolution?  The answer to that question depends on your business’ individual needs.

First Contact Resolution incorporates the same principles as first call resolution—which is generally accepted to mean that a contact center agent addresses a customer’s need the first time they call, thereby eliminating the need for the customer to follow up with a second call.

First Contact Resolution takes First Call a step further by tracking the contact’s behaviors and providing additional analytics and data based on their actions.

While purists might agree that First Contact Resolution is the better of the two metrics and most reflective of true customer experience, the reality is that purchasing the customer lifecycle tracking software needed to appropriately track the First Contact Resolution metric is often expensive and impractical.

Why impractical?

Well, for the answer, we must look at the Pareto Principle.

The 80/20 Rule

The Pareto Principle—also known as the 80/20 principle—is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. His theory, originally a socio-economic commentary on the distribution of wealth in early 20th century Italy, was adopted by business strategists in the 1940’s as an all-inclusive philosophy of the “vital few and the trivial many.”

In the context of the call center, this typically means that 80% of customer service calls/requests are coming from 20% of a given customer base.

So, taking the Pareto Principle into consideration means understanding that the customers who are on the phone with your contact center agents today, will likely be the same customers who are on the phone with your agents next week. Knowing this turns the immediate need for First Contact-level tracking into a lower-priority concern.

If you have the budget to spend on customer lifecycle management technology, then you should track that data.

But I’d rather focus on First Call Resolution, and how implementing sound practices with appropriate contact center technology makes it possible to improve this essential performance metric.

What the Statistics Say

Last year, WhitePages and the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) performed a study of 542 contact center professionals titled “Using Big Data in the Contact Center.”  The study found that 60 percent of contact center managers feel like they are unable to deliver actionable customer service information to agents due to data overload and a lack of focus on customer satisfaction. In addition, the survey found that:

  • More than 40 percent of customer contact information is manually recorded by agents instead of fed through automated APIs or Web-based systems, which means reps are often not as connected to relevant customer data as they need to be to guarantee FCR.
  • Half of call center agents feel hampered by productivity challenges such as having to ask customers for basic contact information.
  • More than a third of contact centers do not collect any data around customer satisfaction, and 15 percent collect it but don’t use it at all.

While there are a great number of businesses continuing to operate with legacy call center equipment and ignore the importance of technology that helps achieve immediate customer satisfaction, today’s customers are becoming increasingly demanding. Customers are becoming more aggressive when comparing prices and are apt to switch their loyalty to your competition because of a poor customer service experience.

The study shows that without the right tools and guidance, agents are neither able to handle the volume of data that is in front of them, nor able to extract the vital pieces of information that they need to drive successful outcomes.

Everyone lately has experienced a terrible call or long hold time. In fact, the entire experience has created a small culture on Twitter that identifies with the hashtag #onholdwith.

Obsolete technology doesn’t give any business the extensibility it needs to answer customer complaints. When you consider that these same businesses are also becoming overwhelmed by data, one wonders whether or not first call resolution as a principle is also becoming obsolete and forgotten.

Keeping your customers in focus

Failure to resolve customer issues in the first call results in callbacks and increased total costs. If customers have to call back two or three times to resolve their issue, they may not call back ever again.

No matter how fast your company grows your customer service has to remain razor sharp. After all, the cost of acquiring a new customer is considerably greater than retaining an existing one.  So how can you work aggressively to make sure that each interaction with your agents ends with resolution? By considering the following:

  1. Educate agents and get them involved: Educate your agents and then empower them to improve first call resolution-related processes. Your agents know customers and customer care probably better than anyone. Smart managers actively solicit suggestions and insight from their agents regarding how they may be able to enhance first call resolution performance. Given the opportunity, your call center agents will tell you what tools, training, and workflows are lacking and what processes and metrics are interfering with their ability to resolve customer issues effectively.
  2. Consult past records: Don’t attempt to solve the problem without doing due diligence. Encourage your agents to review past interactions with their customers for clues and indications about why certain interactions resolve and others do not. Doing so will put your agents in a better place to remedy problems instantly.
  3. Install recording software: To get a sense of whether your agents resolve customer queries or escalate them, invest in call recording software which can record and archive every single interaction. Doing so gives your call center managers something to rely on to identify best-in-class behavior and zero in on patterns needing improvement.
  4. Optimize workforce management processes: Even the best trained and equipped agents on the planet can’t be successful if they’re over-worked. The same applies if the customer, who has been caged in a queue for 15 minutes, is screaming at them for taking too long when answering the phone. Accurate forecasting and sound scheduling is critical, as is mastering skills-based routing, so callers get sent to the right agent with the right skill set to handle a customer’s specific issue right there on the spot.

Solutions available to your business

Ultimately there is a high cost, in terms of inefficiencies and operational cost, when you continue to operate outdated technologies. Taking inventory of your existing call center technologies can help you determine if it’s time for an overhaul or a simple upgrade.

You don’t have to choose between favorite software and hardware. You can choose to invest in contact centers with automatic call distribution and attendant technologies so that calls coming into your contact center are routed correctly. Many of these technologies now include Unified Communications with presence technology, which can help you identify available subject matter experts instantly.

Check out our whitepaper for more information on Best (and Worst) Practices in Customer Communications.

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BYOD and BYOA: The State of Mobility Adoption

BYOD and BYOA: How Devices and Apps Function Together to Improve Business Productivity and Employee Efficiency

nec_byod_employeesMobile devices are completely ingrained in our daily lives. They entertain, remind, socialize, and manage us. They are our personal authentication key to the world around us. They are an extension of ourselves. Handheld mobile devices are just extremely personal, more so than any other device we interact with during the day. When asked, most people will say that they’ll give up food or sleep before they’re deprived of their mobile device, and for most there is a discernable level of anxiety when their device isn’t actively with them.

BYOD: The Device is King

nec_byod_mobilityThe personal dynamics of mobile devices and, in turn, mobile device management, has made adoption of mobile technology a tricky business across the board. For most organizations, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are still complex and perceived as risky. But, with the global workforce’s rapid adoption of the mobile work style, integration of BYOD policies have been necessary for most organizations to maintain the high levels of productivity needed to sustain business success. In fact, only businesses with high-level security concerns and strict privacy needs—like financial organizations—can succeed in today’s marketplace without some form of acceptance of BYOD in their mobile policies.

Originally, the largest motivation for BYOD was the desire to get rid of the traditional corporate device and its restrictive user experience which contrasted sharply against the newer, smarter consumer devices providing more personal experiences. The result for many early BYOD adopters was the increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and improved competitive advantage that they were searching for.

We’ve talked about BYOD for what seems like too long, but it continues to be a hot topic as employers allow employees to utilize their own devices at the office. But, as many of us know, giving employee-owned devices access to the corporate network increases risk and is difficult for businesses to manage. Many IT departments don’t have the time to deal with the challenges inherent with BYOD; the co-existence of personal and business data, multiple operating systems, and problems with backup, recovery, security, and compliance.

In fact, the 2014 Executive Enterprise Mobility Report released by Apperian and conducted by CITO Research, helps shed some light on how important the issues are that executives at a range of companies embracing these mobility strategies face.

For example, 77% of the respondents highlighted security as a major concern with mobile device management—not much of a shocking discovery if you’ve ever dealt with mobility in the past. What is shocking? That 70% of respondents are still unable to detect data or device loss, which highlights a starteling lack of mobile security initiative in today’s businesses despite security being a key concern.

What is clear, is that companies understand the inherent risk surrounding BYOD and many are still struggling with how best to address their concerns.

Some of the challenges of managing BYOD programs have re-invigorated a “bring-your-own” trend that dates back to the 1980s—Bring Your Own Apps (BYOA). BYOA can be used as a way to preserve the productivity benefits of BYOD while reducing the capital costs associated with managing a BYOD program.

BYOA: The App is Queen

The BYOA trend centers on employees’ use of third-party applications in the workplace. But BYOA is really the key driver of a much larger trend that’s growing in popularity; IT consumerization. Why? Because BYOA and its associated benefits for employees include greater engagement and satisfaction, and improved productivity, the chief cornerstone of the IT Consumerization movement.

Since BYOA employees choose their own applications, each employee can use the apps that he or she is most comfortable with. Not only does this improve productivity by allowing employees to have more control over the software they use, it also enhances efficiency by letting each individual person use the tool that best matches their work style. This gives you the opportunity to provide more software and business process features to your team than you could logically provide while employing a BYOD or other corporate mobility strategy. IT Consumerization essentially allows businesses to create endless opportunities with multiple new ways to get work done—which would likely have a positive effect in terms of employee morale and efficacy.

But the greatest strengths of the BYOA policy are also its greatest weaknesses.

Most consumer apps being used in the enterprise are cloud-based in order to allow user access from multiple devices, laptops included. Many organizations are finding that the combination of cloud-based document sharing and cloud-based business process solutions are meeting a growing number of their business requirements.

As employees are increasingly under pressure to do more with less in terms of budget and IT resources, they often turn to BYOA to get the job done. While this can be rationalized as a means of reducing the capital expenditures and licensing costs associated with using corporate-issued file storage, document sharing, and business process software, all budgetary benefits that come from reducing capital costs are often negated because of one thing—sacrificed security. Your prized corporate data is now sitting in someone else’s cloud.

There is no ace in the hole when it comes to security policies. The simple fact is that SMBs must absorb certain types of risk out of necessity when competing with large enterprises—which is why you’re likely to see higher BYOA adoption among SMBs than enterprises.

But for those who can’t absorb that risk, or simply don’t want to, there’s good news—that risk can be managed.

Security and Mobility: Striking Common Ground

nec_byod_securityThe key challenges for businesses of all sizes adopting cloud and mobility applications is finding the right balance between usability and data security. In an ideal world, users would like to have one-click access to an increasing number of apps without needing 12 digit passwords for each app. Since users are bringing in their own devices, and these devices are the primary means to app access, they must be “trusted” within the organization and secured.

“Perimeter Security” no longer exists in the enterprise. Network boundaries are slowly disappearing—and many IT departments are still trying to control all facets of off-premises application access from roaming mobile endpoints. But this is, quite simply, impossible to do. And so a shift in the way we think about security may be in order.

Protecting data directly, not the device, guards your data at the source rather than the endpoint, ensuring the safety of your businesses’ information regardless of your employee’s location. Information Rights Management and other such technologies directly embed access rules into documents by way of cryptography. With this method, the rules are applicable to documents regardless of location or device, allowing effective security measures for multi-device environments.

This pattern also allows for “detecting, logging, and blocking” data that leaves enterprise premises. Having the capability to follow the transmission of sensitive data solves part of the problem that has become apparent in Apperian’s Mobility report—understanding where, when, and how users are transferring information out of the corporate network.

Secondly, the drive to demand better security from consumer app providers needs to be spearheaded by SMB and enterprise businesses. Since most businesses are embracing some form of BYOD/BYOA, and most of us spend at least 40 hours a week in the workplace, the burden of changing app security—and consequently cloud stability—really falls on businesses, not consumers.

Finally, securing critical business communications can solve a lot of data leakage from the start. Unified Communications (UC) can help keep your company keep its contacts and other data safe and secure when an employee’s device is lost or stolen.

With the right UC app, your IT administrator can secure data loss easily. Unified Communications lets employees bring their own devices while still maintaining high levels of corporate security. The best UC platforms let you support multiple devices through one single approved UC app, meaning your employees can have access to their favorite communications tools without your IT department having to support each device individually.

In regard to other security issues, many organizations that have started implementing consumerization policies are establishing acceptable use standards for use of consumer technologies in the workplace. Acceptable use policies (AUP) stipulate requirements that must be followed to be granted network access.

To learn more about how BYOD policies empower smart enterprises, along with other trends impacting the workforce, download the Smart Enterprise Trends eBook.

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Is Your Business at Risk Running an Outdated PBX

nec-risk-of-outdated-pbx-benefits-of-ucYou know your PBX is way past its prime, and economic pressures have lead you to delay its upgrade or replacement.

But there comes a point in time when continuing to sweat your communications  assets no longer makes sense—from both a financial perspective and a business/productivity perspective. Retaining outdated equipment can essentially increase your IT costs and prevent your users from utilizing communications tools that help your business processes.

Phone systems are one of the assets that many companies sweat for too long, and, as a result, many of these organizations are sitting on archaic (or end-of-life) equipment that is no longer efficiently supporting their business while possibly putting it a risk.

Yet for some, the prevailing practice is to continue operating the existing system well past its useful life and beyond the end-of-support.

We often hear the following reasons to avoid upgrading:

  • We don’t have the budget, or there is a higher priority budgetary request.
  • The lifespan on the last PBX was too short.
  • We’re afraid that if we upgrade tomorrow, something better will come out next week (a.k.a. the cycle of obsolescence).
  • We’re unclear on our unified communications plans and how our phone system should fit in with UC.
  • Newer phone systems are becoming too complex to use.
  • The buying cycle is too long, and we will have to get too many people involved who will all have different opinions.
  • We don’t know which approach to take—i.e. premises, hybrid, or cloud-based.

There’s a chance that the phones you think are supporting your business aren’t. While the value of your older technology may not have appeared to change—for example, the phones still work, and you can still make calls—the outdated system may be hurting your business.

We know the decision to move to a new telephony system is sometimes a difficult one to make. That’s why we’ve created the following list of 3 of the benefits of a modern unified communications system over an outdated phone system.

1. System Stabilization

If you are a business owner or decision maker, you have probably thought, “We save money keeping the old system. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Every day your business uses an analog, TDM, or older VoIP phone system that has reached end-of-life, you run the risk of having your phone system fail without access to support. If that happens, revenue will likely be lost as a result. How much? Well, you could lose what equates to hours, days, or even weeks of revenue—depending on the amount of time it takes to quickly repair or worst case find and install a new system.

And hurrying to find a new system isn’t ideal. If your system fails, it could mean you are forced to make a quick replacement decision. Companies that don’t have the time or don’t take the time to research properly before purchase usually discover they’ve spent too much money or are unhappy with their purchase after it is too late to change it. Taking the time to find the right IP Telephony solution or Unified Communications solution will improve your business processes and efficiencies without over-extending your budget.

2. Improved Operational Costs

Maintaining separate systems like directories, conferencing software, voicemail, and telephony is expensive and time consuming for IT departments to sustain. In fact, it can be so time consuming that the IT department spends the majority of their day keeping these systems functional—time that can be better spent on more strategic IT projects.

The older the system, the higher the operational cost is when you don’t upgrade. Some of the costs businesses accrue using older systems include:

  • Proprietary hardware at each location (equipment, phones, PBX)
  • Installation
  • Licensing
  • Maintenance, repairs and upgrades
  • Additional services
    • Fax
    • Business SMS
    • HD video meetings
    • Audio conferencing

When you factor the lost IT time spent maintaining each separate communications system  with the opportunity cost of not having the advanced applications and features that modern unified communications provides, you end up with a total cost that is just too high for most businesses to ignore.

3. Competitive Advantage

Have you stopped to think about whether your competitors are taking advantage of modern communications software? If they are and you’re not, then chances are they are able to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Working smarter gives them an edge by increasing their productivity and creating a competitive advantage.

Your competitors that are working with updated communications systems, most likely have these advanced features at their disposal:

  • Audio/video/web collaboration, white boarding and document sharing
  • Support for the mobile workforce with a consistent user experience across smartphones and tablets
  • UC clients that provide status, presence, call history
  • Integrated vertical applications through standards and open services

 

While the cost of upgrading may seem high, the advanced applications and features associated with modern communications systems will help re-gain lost competitive edge and offer companies an opportunity to better serve their customers.

Unified communications can help businesses regain competitive advantage in two ways.

First, a new system can help you increase your revenue by providing your business with the communications applications needed to be more productive and efficient. You could gain better advantages and increased competitive edge by choosing a modern solution with a lower total cost of ownership and features that enable collaboration across your business, improving the speed of your communications.

Secondly, UC provides communications software that makes enterprise-level communications applications available on an ad-hoc basis. This either gives you access to applications that you might not have previously been able to budget for, or, saves your organization money as you no longer have to pay the fees required to utilize multiple services. Replacing hosted web, audio or video conferencing services is a perfect example. The accrued savings can boost the return on your unified communications investment, and expand your competitive edge through re-investment into other IT projects that help your business grow.

Increased Productivity

If you fear that your new technology will become obsolescent and use that as an excuse to avoid upgrading, you shouldn’t.  Look for vendors that offer software assurances and extended warranties for hardware that will provide your business with more security and less risk in the long run.

With a modern communications solution, you ensure that your system has the flexibility to handle rapid growth, giving you the ability to provide support to your increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. Your IT team will re-gain some of their time, allowing them to focus on other strategic IT initiatives. And, your employees will re-coup benefits that improve the speed of communication from access to applications that positively impact your daily business—whether it’s through more efficient collaboration with colleagues, or improving customer response times.

Options Available to Your Business

Ultimately there is a high cost, in terms of inefficiencies and operational cost, when you continue to operate an outdated or end-of-life phone system.

Some organizations struggle with selecting the best model (premises, hybrid, or cloud-based) to meet long-term communication needs. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the advantages of each option. Ultimately you’ll look for the platform and vendor that has the flexibility to customize the right solution to meet your specific needs.

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5 Things Millennials will Love about Unified Communications

nec-unified-communications-millennials-love-ucSupporting Millennials in the Enterprise becomes easier with Unified Communications Technology.

Everywhere you look these days there’s an article about millennials—the net generation, generation next, echo boomers. I am a millennial. So I have some insight into the millennial/tech conversation.

Yes, it is true that we are inherently good with technology.  That I won’t argue. But we are still very new to the enterprise—and simultaneously, enterprise lingo. Throw a term like “unified communications” at a millennial, and many of my peers will draw a blank.

Despite that little flaw, we are becoming an increasingly significant factor to consider when defining business IT needs. At over 79 million strong in the US, we currently outnumber the baby boomer generation by three million people.  By 2015, we will comprise over half of the labor market globally.

Unified communications offers all of the tools that millennials demand in the workplace. But like me, they may not know that. Because even though we are technologically savvy, the consumer market does not have or use a term like Unified Communications. Millennials have just not had a chance to become familiar with it.

I did a lot of reading about UC when I first heard the phrase. And I learned a lot of technically specific IT information. But I didn’t really “get” UC until I attended a training/demo. The training showed me just how quintessential UC is to my generation. It includes all the features that we like to have on hand as we work—all the tools we already use.

From my training, I’ve developed a list of the Top 5 Features Millennials will Love about UC.

Rich Presence

What it is: Rich presence allows users to locate and identify another user’s availability and contact them on their preferred device.

Why it matters: Millennials like efficiency. We’ve had Rich Presence—at least in the form of availability—as a feature of our various instant messaging systems for over a decade. To us, it’s second nature to mark ourselves as “Away” or “Out to Lunch” on an Instant Messaging platform. By that rationale, it’s also second nature for us to want to know someone else’s availability before we ever pick up the phone. It is fantastic that UC solutions offer presence features that are capable of showing when co-workers are “On the Phone,” or, “In a Meeting;” as well as if they are in the office or mobile. Rich Presence allows more efficient conversations, and enhances voice and messaging applications to better suit millennials’—and everyone else’s—mobility needs.

Instant Messaging/Chat

What it is: Instant Messaging/Chat technology provides a communications alternative to traditional telephone calls or video conferences that is less-intrusive and enables quick exchange of information.

Why it matters: Millennials are chatty. And while we’re not necessarily more communicative than our Gen X and Baby Boomer peers, the fact is that Millennials communicate differently. Making a phone call is not always our first instinct (admittedly there are those of us who find phone calls to be daunting). So, most millennials are less likely to use a traditional handset—or a phone call in general—until a deeper level of conversation is warranted. When this is the case, millennials will schedule these conversations ahead of time if it’s possible. Why? Because we’ve grown up using communications technology, and chatting digitally via IM or Text message is instinctive to us. So if we have a question or request that can be answered or discussed quickly, you can bet an instant message of some kind is going to be our preferred method.

Soft Phone

What it is: Softphone functionality allows employees to use their computers to send/receive calls, perform desktop video conferencing, and use advanced call forwarding and web-browser dialing.

Why it matters: Millennials love VoIP technology. Check any one of their phones and you’ll find at least one favorite consumer VoIP application. We use them all the time to chat and videoconference with each other. In fact, consumer softphones are so popular with millennials, that we use them personally, and, as a result, softphone applications are becoming more popular and prevalent with SMBs who are trying to attract millennial innovators—i.e. startups, small businesses, marketing and advertising verticals, etc. When you factor in the ever-growing mobility trend, you begin to understand and see that the need for these tools in the enterprise office is not specific to millennial workers alone.

Smart Directories

What it is: Online Smart Directories provide a desktop view of any person or extension in the enterprise, and that person’s availability via a simple search feature.

Why it matters: Millennials have grown up “searching at the speed of Google.” We are instinctive researchers, and our instincts tell us that somewhere online we’ll find the wisdom we seek. So it is incredibly impressive when our UC client can look up any person and any extension in the enterprise via a simple search feature. In fact, this is one of the pleasantly surprising benefits to using enterprise-level UC over a consumer-based option, and something that most millennials may not inherently expect.

Hard Phone

What it is: The device that a user holds to the ear to hear the audio sound through the receiver.

Why it matters: Contrary to popular opinion, there are millennials who are perfectly comfortable picking up the desk phone, and I believe it is inaccurate to say that there is a straight refusal on millennials’ part to use them. Hard phones are great when sitting at a desk working, so long as they are easy to use and have advanced features that allow us to tailor the phone experience to meet our individual needs. Older handset models can be difficult to learn how to use with 100 page handbooks and overtly complicated keypad functions. Unified Communications enabled phones are usually linked to a user’s PC through a UC desktop client, making it intuitively easy for millennials to set-up and access advanced calling features with a few mouse clicks. This client is usually integrated with the enterprise’s messaging and email platforms, making it identifiable to the mobile experiences we’ve come to know.

Final Thoughts

For my generation, work is something we do and not somewhere we must go. So we need tools that enable mobility. That being said, we are not opposed to traditional forms of communication. We still use email. We still make phone calls. We will continue to do so. We’re not going to stop using them just because we get a new tool that has an instant messaging feature.

Most importantly, we understand there is a need to respect others’ communications styles. So if our co-workers prefer phone calls to IMs, we can make that adjustment. In many cases, successful adoption of new communications styles requires management of generational expectations, not just software training.

So, all of this is to say that Unified Communications can unify the multi-gen workforce that most businesses have, and should more than satisfy millennials’ needs through the UC system’s features.

Are you excited to learn more about millennials and Unified Communications?  

Check out the white paper:  file-738886702

The Market for UCaaS Continues to Grow as Innovators Adopt

The cloud-based communications services market is one of the fastest growing segments in the quickly expanding Unified Communications market.

nec-ucaas-market-adoption-ucUnified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is essentially a delivery model for Unified Communications (UC). With UCaaS, employers have the opportunity to outsource communication and collaborative applications to a third-party provider for online delivery. It serves exactly the same purpose as traditional premises-based UC, combining multiple communications means and methods into a single, unified application.

Even with the advantages UCaaS offers, there remain some concerns about adopting these solutions. A recent Spiceworks survey of 267 IT pros in North America (11% of whom have already implemented UCaaS in their organization) points to two main concerns about hosted solutions: availability and performance.

By educating IT pros on UCaaS adoption trends and advantages, we hope to offer a closer look at the burgeoning UCaaS market.

Innovators using UCaaS

Early technology adopters tend to buy and try out new hardware and software, and versions of existing programs sooner than most of their peers. According to Everett Rogers, author of the Diffusion of Innovations (DoI) theory and book, early adopters make roughly 14% of consumers.

And while early adopters are eager to explore new options like UCaaS, they are not the only ones worth watching. According to Rogers, there is a small minority of early adopters called innovators. Only one person out of 40 is of this type. Innovators are the people most likely to conceive and develop new methodologies and technologies, and who often end up running large IT corporations or founding new ones.

As the Spiceworks research shows, they are the ones adopting UCaaS.

IT Pros Responding to UCaaS

Among IT pros responding to the Spiceworks survey, 11% had adopted UCaaS. However, another 12% indicated they are planning to adopt it in the next year, which will more than double the number of people using UCaaS today.

This projected growth tracks consistently with the expectations of UCaaS market growth reported in 2013 by researchers at MarketsandMarkets. Their report on UCaaS projects that the global market will grow from $2.52 billion in 2013 to $7.62 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 24.8%.

Some suggest that developing confidence in hosted solutions in general is the impetus for the projected dramatic increase in adoption. Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research, has pointed out, “…more than 90% of companies now use software as a service (SaaS) applications.”

UCaaS’ potential to create uninterrupted communications across multiple devices and methods appeal to companies whose employees are increasingly seeking seamless 24/7 access to communications. According to Denise Culver, research analyst and author of a recent Heavy Reading Insider report on UCaaS, “As UCaaS continues to be viewed from the lens of a solution that cuts the landline cord and eradicates the need for a traditional PBX, it will be looked at as a business enabler, rather than a simple phone system.”

UCaaS Adoption Advantages

  • Up-to-date UC Technology and Applications: UCaaS applications can be updated easily and deployed company-wide as they become available via the cloud. UCaaS helps avoid technology obsolescence and the time and resources associated with large scale “technology refreshes.”
  • Cost Savings: SMBs that choose UCaaS for their communications solution avoid the capital outlay required to set up and maintain on-site hardware. Instead, that cost is shifted to operational expenditures via the third-party UCaaS provider. Businesses also only pay for the level of service they require.
  • Scalability: UCaaS models allow SMBs to quickly and easily increase their service levels as they add employees. This means that the SMBs pay for only what they need and they are not required to predict their potential needs in advance. This helps streamline the budget and makes the communications plans more scalable, as the business can easily modify as the workforce expands or even if it shrinks.
  • Higher Levels of Performance:The best hosted service providers have secure and resilient data centers that are redundantly configured and geographically separated to ensure continued service in the event of emergencies and Service Level Agreements that provide uptime guarantees. Each organization’s data and user settings are backed up and mirrored in multiple locations, creating a disaster-proof backbone for their business communications. This alleviates the potential of SMBs losing their communication capabilities due to a technical problem or severe weather events or other disasters. UCaaS also ensures their employees stay connected and productive even if they are unable to make it into the office through the off-site cloud-based tools that provide them access from any location and any device.

According to the Synergy Research Group, UCaaS subscribers will grow an average of 76 percent annually over the next five years. SMBs are expected to be a large part of that group.

Are you excited by the opportunities UCaaS presents to the communications market?

Check out the Reducing UC Costs and Increasing Business Performance whitepaper to take a deeper dive into the advantages of UCaaS, market drivers, concerns, and what to look for in a provider.

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