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Social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic drove a massive shift from office to remote work environments. Many organizations turned to cloud services to maintain business operations and keep employees connected with each other, partners, and customers. The global crisis also heightened business and IT leaders’ attention to business continuity and the need to promptly respond to continually evolving work-mode scenarios. As a result, too many technology adoption projects amid COVID-19 can accurately be characterized as urgent, ad-hoc, or even panicked; and ultimately the right fit for neither sustained user nor IT staff productivity nor business process and operational efficiency.

­Frost & Sullivan and Telefónica discuss what to avoid when working to deploy UCaaS.Market and organizational requirements will remain highly dynamic for the foreseeable future. Most business leaders acknowledge the necessity to launch robust digital transformation strategies. Flexible cloud services such as unified communications as a service (UCaaS) supply the agility businesses need to thrive and deliver customer value.

To ensure long-term success, businesses must avoid 10 common pitfalls when moving their mission-critical communications capabilities to the cloud:

Pitfall #1—Crisis deployments: With the surprise element of the global pandemic now behind us, businesses must avoid poorly-conceived ‘emergency’ technology deployments. A more strategic and holistic approach to digital transformation is necessary.

Pitfall #2—Cloud silos: Businesses that started their cloud migration journey with point solutions—such as stand-alone cloud meetings or voice-only cloud PBX solutions—must avoid perpetuating cloud silos by expanding those investments to include additional capabilities while leveraging the same technology stack. Integrated services suites that comprise enterprise voice, messaging, video/web meetings, mobility, and even contact center can rationalize solution administration, upgrades, and billing, as well as deliver a better user experience.

Pitfall #3—Unsupported free services: Free services enable convenient and low-risk technology trials or stop-gap deployments (e.g., address a short-term rise in remote working). However, lack of robust customer support and limited or non-existent service level agreements (SLAs), which are typical shortcomings of free services, create vulnerabilities in uptime and reduce return on investment (ROI) in the long term.

Pitfall #4—Walled gardens: UCaaS solutions based on proprietary technologies with a limited set of application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) can hamper interoperability with mission-critical third-party business, productivity, vertical or communications software, services, and devices. Without integration of multiple business tools, organizations are unable to optimize the use of rich data available across multiple repositories to provide the right context needed to accelerate decision making and boost productivity.

Pitfall #5—Dated user experience: Voice-only services no longer address the needs of user demographics that cherish more interactive messaging and engaging visual experiences. Basic PBX replacement services also fail to satisfy collaboration-centric organizations striving to leverage the collective power of the diverse workforce to enable a better end-to-end customer journey.

Pitfall #6—Missing nuts and bolts: IT and telecom investment decision makers must avoid excessive focus on solution bells and whistles at the expense of nuts-and-bolts performance requirements such as service quality, reliability, security, compliance, scalability, extensibility, and ease of use.

Pitfall #7—Desktop-only solutions: First-generation hosted IP telephony and UCaaS services that do not support fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) are ill-fitted for businesses with a growing remote and mobile workforce. Access to corporate communications and collaboration tools anywhere, anytime, and on any device and network is increasingly required to stay productive while balancing work and personal lives.

Pitfall #8—Dead-end technology roadmap: UCaaS solutions leveraging dated monolithic architectures, rather than pure-cloud, micro-services platforms, cannot support the speed or breadth of innovation required by businesses seeking a competitive edge.

Pitfall #9—Limited provider capabilities: Intense competition in the highly-dynamic UCaaS space can threaten the viability of small providers with a short track record and limited brand recognition, thus jeopardizing customer UCaaS investment longevity. Providers with less diversified solution and services portfolios are also unable to fully support mid-market and large businesses that have sophisticated technology requirements, including complex customization and integration needs.

Pitfall #10—Lack of process optimization and business-culture transformation: Businesses embarking on digital transformation and cloud migration journeys must be cautious about modernizing their technology environments without properly adapting their internal processes and business culture. Without effective change management and business process transformation, digital technologies alone might create more challenges than benefits for the organization due to limited adoption, inappropriate use, inflexible user behaviors, or clashing existing and new business priorities.

The time is right for businesses to adopt UCaaS and make it a key pillar of digital transformation programs. However, UCaaS deployments must be both tactical and strategic to deliver the desired business outcomes: greater operational efficiencies, business agility, enhanced user productivity, and an improved customer journey.

About Elka Popova

Elka PopovaAs vice president for global market research and consulting company Frost & Sullivan, Elka Popova leads the company's Connected Work team, which covers business communications and collaboration solutions. With 20 years of market analysis and strategic consulting experience, she specializes in market and competitive intelligence, market forecasting and trend analysis. She has extensive expertise in a broad range of industry sectors, including unified communications (UC) systems and endpoints, UC-as-a-service (UCaaS), communications platforms-as-a-service (CPaaS) and session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking. Popova holds a master's degree in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.

Elka PopovaElka Popova

As vice president for global market research and consulting company Frost & Sullivan, Elka Popova leads the company's Connected Work team, which covers business communications and collaboration solutions. With 20 years of market analysis and strategic consulting experience, she specializes in market and competitive intelligence, market forecasting and trend analysis. She has extensive expertise in a broad range of industry sectors, including unified communications (UC) systems and endpoints, UC-as-a-service (UCaaS), communications platforms-as-a-service (CPaaS) and session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking. Popova holds a master's degree in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.

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