November 19, 2018
By Gerardo Quinones, VP, Americas Channels and Service Providers, IR
Everyone likes a challenge, right? Having the right tools and a planned approach makes solving and preventing problems easier, even when it’s not a business where one hammer-flattens all protruding nails.
In today’s competitive environment, communications service providers are looking to build strong, long-term, mutually profitable relationships with their customers. A way for them to do so has been to develop a unified communications managed-services portfolio that lets their customers to do business better, faster, and more cost-effectively.
Doing this requires the integration of a complex set of multivendor collaboration, contact center, networking, IT, and video and audio-conferencing technologies in both dedicated and multitenant/cloud environments. This has raised some important challenges for several areas across the service providers’ organizations, including product management, engineering, operations, sales and customer service.
Managing efficiently across multiple customers, platforms and management and monitoring systems is one challenge. Service providers have many different customers, sometimes hundreds of them. Gaining visibility into all those customer environments and successfully managing across disparate platforms is no small task.
Another challenge is real-time monitoring of all the individual communications across each customer’s collaboration ecosystem to predict when things could go wrong before big issues arise, or in case of an unpredictable event, quickly troubleshooting and pinpointing the root cause before an isolated issue becomes a widespread or catastrophic outage — thereby ensuring a great customer experience.
Finally, service providers are challenged to keep pace with ever-evolving technology, which often requires managing the customer’s UC infrastructure migration from on-premises to the cloud.
Here are four ways service providers can ensure that their customers have a great experience every time, while minimizing service delivery costs and maximizing business returns.
1. Consolidate teams and tools. Customers want service provider partners to support their multiple UC and collaboration solutions and multivendor ecosystem components. However, service providers are at a distinct disadvantage when they can’t see the complete picture, especially inside their customers’ environments and networks. What they need is a holistic view of the entire UC ecosystem, including all the various applications, servers, endpoints and network devices.
They also need to gain visibility into multiple customers’ environments in a single monitoring and management view. Many service providers don’t have a centralized team or solution to manage their customers’ disparate UC environments and it’s not uncommon to have separate monitoring tools that deal specifically with each technology vendor (i.e., one for Cisco, another with Avaya and yet a third with Skype for Business).
It’s also essential for service provides to synchronize geographically dispersed teams and disparate tools across the organization to increase operational efficiencies and improve service delivery. The ideal option is a single management solution – powered with automation and integration to other existing management systems and processes – that monitors all environments and provides broad, multivendor support and deep performance insights. The ability to automatically manage all customer UC platforms from a single system will ultimately …
… drive down operational costs and deliver a better user experience.
2. Move from reactive to proactive. Service providers ultimately want to move from a reactive to a proactive state. Instead of end users calling in for help about their failed calls and meetings, service providers’ ideal state is to be aware of trends, symptoms and potential problems in real time so they can resolve them before problems affect user’s experience and SLAs.
If service providers are simply waiting for end users to call when they encounter a problem, they’re risking SLA compliance. Instead, it’s key to use the right tools to identify potential trouble before it bubbles to the surface. The right UC monitoring and analytics solution should provide real-time and historical insights and analytics that point out gradually developing service degradation issues that threaten to affect the quality of service down the road. Additionally, real-time monitoring and alerting with customized, dynamically adjusting thresholds that integrate with IT service management (ITSM) applications (e.g., ServiceNow) can improve customer satisfaction and user experience
3.Be cloud-ready while supporting on-premises or hybrid solutions. Market trends show that while UC and collaboration services are progressively moving to the cloud, this migration will take time, with many customers taking a slow and steady approach. Therefore, service providers managing mission-critical UC and collaboration environments or enterprise-grade contact centers on behalf of their customers must continue to support on-premises systems for some time, resulting in the need to manage hybrid environments as some customer systems gradually move to the cloud. Service providers must make sure they have cloud-ready tools that can effectively monitor, manage and troubleshoot not just their customers’ different UC platforms, but also provide visibility across the different deployment models, whether cloud, on-premises, or hybrid. In short, service providers must be able to evolve as their customers evolve to deliver consistent experiences and quality.
4. Integration and automation with existing systems and processes. Most service providers have already deployed IT service management tools and trouble ticketing systems to support their operations. Thus, a UC performance management tool must be able to integrate with existing systems through two-way alerting and ticketing automation.
When supporting many different customers, with multiple alerts going on within each customer, things can get crazy, quickly. Service providers need a performance management tool that not only lets them set customer-based thresholds, but also integrates with their internal ticketing systems and helps them easily manage alarms, troubleshooting and problem resolution. Such integration means fewer systems to manage, reduced number of trouble-tickets, and improved operational efficiency through shorter mean-time-to-repair.
Implementing initiatives around these four areas is critical to ensure service providers offering unified communications and contact center managed services remain competitive by streamlining service delivery, managing costs, and building long-term steady revenue streams. A comprehensive end-to-end, multivendor monitoring and performance management tool is an essential component of these initiatives. Our experience working with leading service providers across the globe has shown over and over that the adoption of the right tool results in improved and streamlined operations, faster problem resolution, and improved customer satisfaction.
Gerardo Quinones is VP Americas of the service providers and channels team, and general manager for Iberoamerica (Latin America and Spain). He handles IR’s strategic business planning, go-to-market definition, direct sales management, channel management, marketing, team building and development. IR provides performance and experience management solutions for communications, contact center and payment processing ecosystems. Its IR Prognosis provides business-critical insights and ensures enterprise communications systems deliver high availability and performance. Follow Quinones on LinkedIn.
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