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2021 and the Rise of UCaaS

Remote work and digital communications took center stage in 2020. As we start the new year on a more hopeful path, businesses must now focus on managing spend and consumption of the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams they added to support remote collaboration.

No matter where your organization was on its digital transformation journey, chances are good you’re now juggling subscription-based invoices and licenses on a scale you hadn’t tackled before, and all without the visibility you need to fully understand which services your business is using, who’s consuming them, how services are being used, and your expenditures for each platform.

It’s time to fix that.
  • Get visibility into your UCaaS deployments
  • Compile data on your UCaaS spend
  • Analyze UCaaS contracts for more cost-effective negotiations
  • Track shifts in collaboration workloads over time

2020 and the Growth of UCaaS Adoption

Lesser-known solutions became core platforms last year. Few companies outside the SMB sector had large-scale deployments of Zoom, yet usage of Zoom’s services exploded over the course of just a few months. The platform went from 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020. Other common enterprise solutions—Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex among them—also saw big jumps in demand.

Among the themes that emerged in 2020 was the acknowledgement that businesses knew they’d need to develop an adoption strategy for unified communications at some point. However, the primary focus at the time was moving network infrastructure and software out to the cloud. Few processes were in place to manage the deployment of UCaaS solutions and subscriptions at the user level.

It was in that environment that UCaaS was suddenly, swiftly, and widely adopted.

As enterprises move out of reactive mode and begin to chart a path forward, major gaps have appeared in visibility and management of their new—or newly expanded—UCaaS services.

What’s in Store for UCaaS in 2021 (and Beyond)

Businesses must approach 2021 with a mindset to focus on identifying, understanding, and controlling their communication costs. Historical data may not provide much guidance since the entire consumption model was turned on its head many months ago. And even as remote work arrangements ebb and flow, user-based costs aren’t likely to fall back to traditional levels anytime soon—or possibly ever.

Begin by getting a handle on your UCaaS service deployments. People are accustomed to downloading apps on their mobile devices for personal use and your employees may have purchased subscriptions independently in the pandemic’s early days so they could get up and running at home. With hundreds or even thousands of users racking up recurring subscription costs, you need insight into spend levels and consumption patterns now.

Unless you had formal reporting structures in place for team members to notify IT when adding new services, you might not even know the scope of the issue. Modifying your general ledger (GL) / expense management solution could be a prudent move to accommodate and recognize anything like a UCaaS, SaaS, or other subscription-based service. The sooner you complete that discovery phase and develop a full picture, the better you can manage your UCaaS expenses going forward.

A comprehensive expense management strategy that compiles UCaaS spend for everything from satellite and international offices to remote work locations is the only way to know where your dollars are going and if any expenditures warrant further analysis. Traditional expense management architectures may not deliver the level of insight to determine if there’s a more cost-effective way to use the services you have. Your business needs a next-generation solution that enables you to capture the right information, apply robust analytics to the data, and help you make smart decisions about UCaaS spend.

A platform that can calculate department chargebacks—leveraging actual usage rather than simply relying on headcount—also gives your organization a better understanding of its UCaaS consumption and how well your tech investments are performing. Service contracts can then be analyzed at the user level and compared against industry benchmarks to ensure your pricing structure is favorable. With that information in hand, you'll conduct negotiations from a position of strength to receive the best price possible.

Virtual work is expected to grow into 2021 and beyond, and UCaaS platform adoption is taking shape as a one-stop solution for everything, poised to displace other IT or voice-only systems as employees discover the ease of use and vast feature sets. The right technology gives you visibility into these shifting workloads and expenditure levels, so you know your infrastructure components and software capabilities are utilized efficiently throughout your digital transformation journey.

Before your UCaaS costs balloon further, focus now on getting control over your spend. By engaging a partner with a solution that captures the right data and delivers actionable insight, you can continue to make the best decisions for your business.