Walking the Last Mile in UC

Written by: Scott Gode


The Last Mile in UC: The changing role of IT for meetings, chats and calls.

It wasn’t that long ago when enterprise IT truly ruled the roost. They were able to touch and control all of their infrastructure (server, network, phones, etc.) and if there was a problem it was theirs to own and fix. But then along came some disruptors. The cloud, and smartphones and unified communications crept into the picture. All of a sudden, the world of IT was even more unpredictable and uncontrollable. End-users were perhaps the greatest disruptors of them all, making decisions about usage which IT either couldn’t, or simply chose not to control. The eminent domain of IT is still quite powerful, but the farther one moves from the server room, the more chaos ensues. Out in the wild west of the enterprise, in that “last mile” of the connection, is where we find a lot of communication services delivery going awry. The last mile in UC is an unpredictable place where IT has very little direct control over how and where an end-user accesses an app or service. Is the end-user on their own Wi-Fi network? Are they taking a Skype for Business call from their car, in less than optimal conditions for running the application? These un-predictabilities impact the end-user experience and, ultimately, the IT department’s issues desk.

Let’s examine the “old” and “new” approaches to how IT thinks about the last mile in UC.

  • Old: IT owns responsibility for ALL service levels.
  • New: If it’s in the cloud, it’s “not my problem” — the service provider will handle it.
  • Old: For UC, because the system relies on fixed IP phones or dial-in, IT can control the closed loop system.
  • New: UC incorporates; USB headsets, laptops and roaming users, so there’s no way I can control call quality for a Skype for Business call involving one user dialing in from a coffee shop in Seattle, talking to a colleague dialing in from their home in Copenhagen.
  • Old: When using cell phones, there are issues because of calls made outside of coverage areas — but these issues are truly NOT IT’s problem — they are the cellphone network providers’ issue to solve. End-users understand why a call drops when driving in areas with patchy cell service.
  • New: UC calls made from a desk to a desk should work. When Skype for Business doesn’t work in this scenario for a user, they get frustrated because they can’t clearly understand what the issue is.

At the end of the day users don’t care whether or not the problem is located in infrastructure owned and operated by their IT department, the ISP, or the cloud service provider. If they aren’t having a good experience, IT will take the heat.

end users

Today, IT’s responsibility extends past four walls and into each end-users’ environment. Undoubtedly, the easiest conversations our teams have, when discussing Unify Square’s software and managed services, are with enterprises that have already been on the Skype for Business journey and understand the issues associated with it. And our biggest value-add to our customers is how we look at the last mile, reversed. In fact, our cumulative analytics gleaned from 24×7 Skype for Business monitoring and servicing of nearly 2 million enterprise subscribers, shows that only 17% of all Skype for Business issues originate from networks/infrastructure/server issues which are “within IT control.”  The additional 83% are all “external” issues in that last mile in UC. But, they are still issues which IT can understand, influence, and in many cases, control. Once IT can help users understand what is causing the issues, it allows users to better self-educate and/or self-police, so that they improve/fix their usage or at minimum understand when things go wrong. Providing information to help end-users understand the complexity of a modern UC system is at least half the battle.

The way to solve the last mile in UC conundrum starts with tools and ends with touch. On the tools side the old-school mentality is either “I don’t need my own monitoring tools…I can use the ‘admin tools’ provided by Microsoft.” OR, “I didn’t focus much previously on monitoring Exchange Online, why should I change with Skype for Business Online or with Microsoft Teams in Office365?” Of course, both of these mindsets are flawed — Microsoft has been unequivocally clear that they are not in the monitoring and analytics business for UC and the asynchronous nature of email simply doesn’t require the same level of scrutiny and diligence by IT. The modern-day answer is purpose-built third-party software like Unify Square’s PowerSuite solution which is architected to analyze from the last mile inwards and is thus perfectly suited for the coming wave of migrations from on-prem to the cloud. According to Nemertes Research, when companies use performance management tools, like Unify Square’s PowerSuite, UC adoption is 30% higher, and the organization saves 58% on operational and 19% implementation costs.

On the ‘touch’ side, the answer is a greater focus on and investment in end-user training. This will allow IT to understand and mitigate every problem from infrastructure to an end-user’s knowledge and understanding of how to use UC applications most effectively. The more end-user training you have, and the more acceptance of how to use a UC application correctly, the less issues IT will have.

With the evolving role of IT, departments can’t just focus on the data center as their only problem to fix. IT has to embrace that last mile in UC for Skype for Business and Teams and understand the issues that are within and out of their control. Only then will they begin to understand how to solve every problem and create the ideal atmosphere of delighted end-users.

To request a demo or to learn more about our unique UC technology and PowerSuite features, connect with one of our consultants today!

To view other Unify Square demo videos and informational videos please consult our UC Library HERE.

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