With remote digital workplaces here to stay, IT leaders must make sure their collaboration technology enables rather than hampers employee productivity. But doing so requires data, reporting, and actionable insights to understand what’s working and what’s not.
More than six months after COVID-19 stay-at-home orders began, companies still have 56% of their employees working from home full time and another 24.8% working from home part-time. The remote work environment has drastically increased organizational reliance on collaboration applications.
In order for those applications to work optimally, they require oversight enabled by performance management tools. IT administrators are adding more and better tools to help with many areas of collaboration management, monitoring, and reporting—including remote worker provisioning, app utilization, collaboration security enforcement, and performance monitoring, to name a few.
Two key capabilities to help IT staffs more effectively manage collaboration apps include reporting and automation.
Collaboration Reporting Requirements
Regardless of what companies are managing or monitoring, they must regularly review reports and notifications. Doing so enables them to determine whether to take action immediately, in the near term, or not at all. Reporting also helps executive leadership understand the value collaboration applications bring to employees and customers.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of reports that organizations use to improve the effectiveness and performance of collaboration applications.
- IT/Technical Reports – This category is generally focused around application performance and helps IT evaluate uptime, call quality, configuration, and the assets themselves. The ultimate goal of this reporting category is to ensure employees are highly satisfied with their experiences with the collaboration platform.
- Executive/Business Reports – This reporting focuses on collaboration effectiveness and helps business leaders determine the return-on-investment (ROI) and the overall value of the technology. They can assess the reports to determine whether employees are interacting in a way that creates efficient business outcomes—ultimately measured in terms of revenue, costs, employee productivity, and customer satisfaction.
Basically, IT administrators use reporting to keep an eye on problem management, call reporting, license and asset management, provisioning, and root-cause analysis reports. Meanwhile, business leaders may review reports on employee productivity, contact center agent performance, customer satisfaction, business metrics, and application usage and adoption. Of course, both groups may view any of these reports, depending on the company and the mandate at hand.
For some organizations, though, all these reports may be overkill. Or, those just getting started with advanced Unified Communications and Collaboration management (UCC) may want help prioritizing. Nemertes recently conducted a research study, entitled Nemertes 2020-21 Employee and Customer Engagement Management, where we evaluated which reports were most valuable.
It’s clear from the findings that companies want to use their tools to evaluate collaboration application effectiveness. For example, 65% of the participants cited employee productivity as the top report needed, followed by 59% who cited customer satisfaction. Reporting in those areas is so vital they are willing to pay a premium—48% will pay a premium for employee productivity reporting, while 59% will pay extra for customer satisfaction reporting.
Other areas of reporting cited as vital to effectively manage communications environments are problem management (53%), call reporting (50%), and contact center agent performance (46%). Though 48% will pay a premium for problem management and 42% for agent performance, only 35% will ante up for call reporting, indicating this should be an out-of-the-box feature.
Though companies get reporting features from a variety of tools—including UCC or contact center platforms, performance management specialists, administration management specialists, or endpoint management tools—nearly half rely upon either their UCC platform or third-party performance management software specialists.
So as you’re evaluating the reporting capabilities you need, prioritize those most important to the IT staff and the business leaders. When selecting a provider, compare those features available and whether they are included in the base cost or whether they will cost extra. Often, the additional cost is worth its weight in gold if you’re able to make crucial business decisions that will improve employee productivity and reduce costs.
Automating Management of Collaboration Platforms
Reporting helps IT and business leaders determine what steps they must take, whether an immediate troubleshooting action or a longer-term employee training program to increase application utilization.
For some functions, though, IT staffs are starting to enable automation to speed repair time, get employees online quicker, and reduce IT costs. UC management automation is so important, 83% of companies are doing it. However, only 26% have a cohesive strategy for their automation push. The majority of organizations (56.9%) target tactical areas of automation, focusing only on small functions. They lack cohesive strategies for many reasons—poor leadership, lack of automation tools, or the need for more budget.
We expect automation to be a strong point of IT focus in the coming 12 months. Continued work-from-home (WFH) challenges, coupled with plans for employees to partially return to the office, will prompt IT leaders to strategize on how to best manage collaboration apps remotely. The ability to automate within pre-established corporate policies, and to utilize tools to codify and enforce policies, will help them more effectively manage remote teams.
So far, companies are focusing on automating security management, license management, policy-based changes, and provisioning. (see chart).
We’re already seeing companies become more aggressive and strategic regarding how they redefine the look, feel, location, and governance of their digital workspaces. As part of this reinvention, it’s imperative for the IT staff to consider what management tools can do and how these tools fit into their IT investment strategy. UC and collaboration management tools are no longer just for tracking break/fix or configuring endpoint devices. In today’s new world of digital work, they are becoming powerful tools for overall application success.