1. What are the biggest trends in UC service management?
Mike Frayne, CEO, VOSS Solutions: “The major trend for VOSS is hyper-automation. As global economies deteriorate, companies need to respond rapidly once again to external influences.
“A UC platform that is agile and resilient is essential to deal with changes – from supporting flexible working, adopting new technologies faster, and reducing costs in an environment of global economic uncertainty.
“During the pandemic, organisations adopted UC solutions without a structured deployment plan, resulting in overlapping and unintegrated solutions. Now needing to reduce costs, organisations are looking to digitisation and extending automation to rationalise their UC solutions.
“This will allow them to go beyond the basic onboarding/offboarding to zero-touch workflows and integration that absorb complexity, fuel productivity, improve employee experience, and save costs.
“UC Observability is another exciting development that we are supporting; the ability to proactively measure performance using telemetry, app metrics, logs, call metrics, flows, and synthetic testing, provides deep visibility into current and potential future trouble areas.”
David Levy, Director of Marketing at Akkadian: “As the number of unified communications products in use grows, provisioning and configuration workflows become more complicated and labour intensive to manage, causing IT administration difficulty for what are increasingly more diverse, multi-vendor, and hybrid cloud/on-prem environments.
“UC service management vendors are rolling out support for new platforms to address this change in the landscape.
“Interoperability of UC with other systems is critical as businesses do not want their UC platforms walled off from other software.
“UC solutions may need to get information from or provide data to other systems. Integrations with call monitoring, call analytics, E911, call recording, CRM, HRIS, IT service management (ITSM) and more are required to meet this challenge.
“UC service management solutions can be a hub that ties all of these disparate systems together and makes sure UC platforms do not exist in silos.”
Dessi Schachne, Vice President, Marketing at Kurmi Software, Inc.: “Right now, the three biggest trends we see in UC are multi-vendor environments, moving UC systems to the cloud, and interoperability.
“In a post-pandemic world, there are very few large companies that rely on a single vendor or one collaboration platform to power hybrid work. Implementing multi-vendor, modular UC makes it easier to replace outdated elements, add best-of-breed features, and ensure business continuity.
“UC service management providers that have traditionally been associated with a particular vendor or technology are now having to expand capabilities and offer integrations across UC vendors and, increasingly, across IT systems such as HRIS and ITSM platforms.
“These two trends, together with the rise in UCaaS adoption—where almost every organisation is hosting at least part of their UC infrastructure in the cloud—are driving the need for interoperability and assistance with migrations.
“This is where UC service management tools come in. Companies that want their platforms connected and communicating with each other, or want to ease the burden of migrations, adopt tools like Kurmi Unified Provisioning.”
2. How is AI being used to enhance service management in UC?
Mike Frayne, CEO, VOSS Solutions: “It’s got to be self-healing. The holy grail of managing a UC platform is being able to proactively detect issues and then have these issues resolved with as little human intervention as possible. Self-healing does just this.
“Combining monitoring solutions that provide actionable insights into the UC platform and provisioning solutions with AI and machine learning supports automated resolution.
“Problems are detected by the monitoring solution, AI and other rules-based logic; the issue is analysed to determine the optimal resolution, and then the provisioning engine implements the defined solution – and we have self-healing!
“Self-healing delivers improved user experiences and SLAs and reduces downtime and cost.
“VOSS’ established monitoring and provisioning solutions are constantly being augmented to deliver automated self-healing workflows that require minimal-to-no human intervention.”
David Levy, Director of Marketing at Akkadian: “AI for service management in UC is in the early stages of impacting commercially available products.
“AI and other automation approaches are clearly needed as components of UC service management technologies to align with the increasing size and complexity of the UC stack.
“Especially considering the competitive environment for hiring and retaining highly qualified UC engineers, the need for AI and automation to reduce manual workloads is impacting the future roadmaps of UC service management product development.
“AI’s predictive capabilities will certainly be adopted in new and inventive ways to provide a streamlined operational system.
“For instance, when the task of a basic onboard of a new employee is completed, AI within service management can identify third-party tools, such as CRM, HRIS, Identity Management and others, which would typically need data from the provisioning process (like the new phone number), and via integrations, be able to send and receive data as necessary.”
Dessi Schachne, Vice President, Marketing at Kurmi Software, Inc.: “AI is becoming more critical in the UC industry, particularly in Contact Centers, as it helps to free up time for employees to do their jobs more efficiently while fostering a better customer experience.
“From an end-user point of view, AI is used to power new features in UC platforms such as speech-to-text transcription, meeting recording, and translations.
“IT admins use AI to automate processes such as answering common user questions, monitoring system performance, or advising what services and configurations are suited to each user, based on active directory information.
“AI also enables UC service management providers who can access information from third-party devices to, for example, monitor how and how often employees are in meetings or how meeting rooms and devices are being used, to uncover trends and help employees operate better.”
3. How can service management tools be used to help navigate the challenges of hybrid work?
Mike Frayne, CEO, VOSS Solutions: “With a hybrid workforce, productivity needs to be intrinsically linked to positive user experience.
“With such strong competition for workforce talent, your people need to be as happy as they are productive. For this, insight and actionable intelligence into their UC usage are key.
“Your service management provider should be able to offer UC automation and UC performance management for multi-vendor UC technologies from a single point of control.
“This will give you a clear insight into your employees’ communication and collaboration experience. It will also empower you to make better decisions and take proactive action that allows your people to flourish and set their business apart from the competition.
“On the productivity side: gain insight into application usage and adoption rates across multiple vendors; insight into productivity by employee, application, region, business unit; insight into areas that need coaching or learning support.
“On the experience side: equip staff with the latest tools to be productive and communicate effectively and empower them to easily switch between multiple vendor applications in a seamless digital workplace experience, regardless of their location.”
David Levy, Director of Marketing at Akkadian: “Hybrid work or a combination of work-from-home and work-in-office has become the preferred work situation.
“All the collaboration capabilities you have at the office, you should have at home. The knowledge worker experience should be seamless.
“A multi-vendor, unified point of control for an enterprise’s full UC stack is needed to keep up with the increased use of multiple UC tools as hybrid work accelerates.
“By leveraging the provisioning automation features of a modern UC service management tool, UC engineers can minimise the headaches (from manual work) and risks (of service disruption or even outages) associated with mundane moves, adds, changes, and deletes (MACDs), allowing engineering talent to spend more time on broader strategic initiatives.”
Dessi Schachne, Vice President, Marketing at Kurmi Software, Inc.: “With hybrid work firmly established as part of the future of work, IT teams need the support of an effective UC automation tool to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and ensure more productive use of IT resources.
“Provisioning new users, for example, or managing moves, changes and deletions, can be very manual and costly for a company. In addition, IT teams may have to juggle several UC platforms and migrations to cloud services. Service management tools simplify this complexity.
“With a tool like Kurmi’s, you can unify administration from a single pane of glass, allow delegation (role-based-access control) and zero-touch provisioning, and be flexible enough to integrate with applications like ServiceNow, BMC, or Workday.
“Improving operations of these workflows is now vital to keeping businesses competitive and employees happy.”