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UCaaS: If You Can’t See You Can’t Act

Your essential checklist to save, manage and optimize your digital communications spend.

The pandemic pushed businesses to adopt a new working structure: working from anywhere. But, as communication went virtual, the initial panic stemming from the health crisis led to a boom in virtual communication spending.  

Now, with the stress of the pandemic (mostly) behind us, enterprises are settling into a new stage of normality — but the virtual communication spend explosion blazes on in the background.  

By gaining deeper insights into usage, costs, and an understanding of your workforce’s communication needs, your enterprise will be better prepared to identify cost-saving opportunities and optimizations for an even healthier bottom line. 

In this article, we will help you understand just how well you know your unified communications landscape — and show you how an effective UCaaS management platform can help.

The Role of UCaaS in the Modern Workplace

Over the last few years, business leaders have accelerated their shift towards remote working environments. A combination of lockdowns and a focus on digital transformation promoted a workplace experiment that had previously struggled to gain traction. And it’s here to stay. 

According to a study conducted by PWCover half of employees surveyed (55%) would prefer to be remote at least three days a week when life returns to “normal”. Similarly, less than one in five executives say they want to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic. 

With this in mind, forward-thinking enterprises quickly equipped their newly remote workers with all the tools they need to stay productive and connected. It’s no longer a nice-to-have: businesses need seamless communication capabilities to stay future-fit. That’s where UCaas comes in. 

What Is UCaaS?

Unified communications combine enterprise communication channels such as voice, video, personal and team messaging for greater flexibility. The “as-a-service model” makes the technology stack easily accessible to everyone.  

UCaaS incorporates all types of unified communication channels, to give teams the freedom to work from anywhere with ease. The technology simplifies communication and boosts collaboration across teams, departments, and even countries. 

But, without visibility into what communication tools are being used and how, businesses risk falling victim to a spend black hole — sinking money into unnecessary licenses and feature plans and not having the visibility to what drives the consumption of a particular feature or license.  

So, how well do you know your unified communications landscape, and is there room for cost-saving improvements?  

1. Are You Tracking Fixed Costs Across Your Communications Estate?

When you gain an overview of your fixed spending (e.g. monthly subscriptions), it is much easier to identify cost optimizations and potential waste to drive down communications bills.  

It’s challenging to keep track of fixed spending — particularly digital communication subscriptions — across an entire enterprise using traditional methods like spreadsheets. Not only is there data coming from hundreds of different sources, but trying to manage and analyze this very large dataset, month over month, using manual methods or tools that are just not equipped to deal with the varying cost elements for all the different service types, is virtually impossible. 

An effective UCaaS management  solution however, gathers accurate information automatically and (nearly) instantaneously into a single dashboard to provide the insight into detailed consumption and costs and helps enterprises make smarter, more informed decisions.  

By continuously monitoring your UCaaS costs in this way, your enterprise will be in a stronger position to renegotiate contracts for better deals because you can use the data to better align your contracts, licenses and plans with the needs of your business’s resources and needs. 

Moreover, when enterprises have access to consistently accurate information, they are able to improve budget allocation, eliminating the risk of unnecessary overspending. With many enterprises focusing on having highly efficient IT budgets, this is an effective way to confidently predict and budget for current and future costs. 

2. Are You Monitoring the Usage of Your Collaboration Tools?

According to a survey by LaSalle, 77% of business leaders expect to use a hybrid model of working (i.e., a mix of office and remote work) throughout the next year. So, businesses will likely continue relying on video communication tools like  MS TEAMS, ZoomRingCentral  and others, to keep teams connected. But, do you have a full understanding of how your collaboration tools are being used? 

Collaboration tools encompass three basic features: voice, video, and messaging. Gaining an insight into how employees use these features is invaluable to help in making smarter business decisions. 

For example, a UCaaS-native management solution will pull data straight from the provider’s APIs with detailed usage information; such as length and number of calls, whether video and/or audio was used, how many participants take part… the list goes on and on. 

Armed with these granular insights, enterprises can identify opportunities for cost and management optimizations. For example, if the finance department only uses audio during calls, not subscribing them to upgrade plans that may include hosting meetings or webinars would cut down on needless waste without affecting the quality of their interactions. 

3. Are You Reclaiming Unused Licenses?

Virtual communication tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and RingCentral kept teams connected during the pandemic — and they continue to do so as businesses embrace the modern workplace. But, there are scenarios where enterprises issue unnecessary premium licenses when a free version (or none at all) would suffice.  

For instance, take Hank in Finance. He was issued a Pro Zoom license last year, but he hasn’t used it recently because he’s back in the office full-time. This waste flies under the radar, quietly driving up costs every month due to a lack of visibility. 

Instead of re-issuing the license, a UCaaS tool like the solution from Calero can automatically track and flag that Hank isn’t using the license and send him a notification to return it.  HR can then choose to return the license or request renewal depending on Hanks requirements. 

The bottom line is that this saves money in a frictionless way. In fact, ViacomCBS, the US media conglomerate, was able to cut annual Zoom expenditure by more than 32% simply by finding, downgrading, or removing unused Zoom licenses. A UCaaS management solution makes achieving these savings simple. 

4. Are You Aware of Your Workforce’s Communication Needs?

Manually tracking your communication costs is cumbersome and limited. Without granular insights into how your workforce are using these tools, it is difficult to know where costs can be optimize without impacting those needs. 

For instance, in terms of subscriptions, there are three broad categories that every enterprise should keep track of to lower the cost of UC: 

  • Free subscriptions: Although they’re not a direct cost to your enterprise, it’s important not to overlook free-tier subscriptions. These subscriptions are well suited to users who fall within the thresholds of minimal usage of voice and conferencing services, without sacrificing the usual enterprise security protocols.
  • Redundant licenses: In a multinational enterprise, it’s possible that users may have several licenses activated which may be for services that are very similar in use. It can be very worthwhile to have insight into what kinds and how many licenses a particular user has so that the ones that are needed to best fulfill their operational needs are identified and the remainder eliminated.
  • Incorrect subscriptions: Different license tiers provide different features and functionalities. each feature level provides additional functionality or capabilities to the user – provided they are used at the level that makes them economical. It is not unusual to find that a large number of top level user licenses to host meetings are used very infrequently or with minimal attendees, resulting in very high waste in the licenses and the cost.

Gaining detailed insights into how communication tools are being used — and not just what is being used — puts you in a better position to understand your workforce’s needs and tailor the tools to those needs. 

5. Are You Tracking Variable Communication Costs?

While there has been a shift to fixed-rate communication costs in recent years, enterprises still incur variable costs in the form of variable call plans or due to overage charges. 

This is particularly challenging to do in any medium-large enterprise.  Visibility to the granular details behind what may be the drivers of overage costs is just not available in the vendor portals, resulting in enterprises signing enterprise license agreements that are best guess, rather than based on any hard data analysis 

With enterprises regularly exceeding their UCaaS budget by 20% or more due to the mismanagement of metered plans, it’s clear that variable costs contribute to the communications spend black hole plaguing companies. 

But getting these costs under control isn’t hard with the right UCaaS solution.  

A modern UCaaS management solution provides near-real-time reporting on consumption and compares this data against any allowances or limits in the plan. The system then flags potential call overages so that enterprises can proactively avoid charges adjusting the factors that may be causing the spike in usage through plan modification or user education or both. This approach prevents any unplanned or un-budgeted surprises down the road and ensures you can have a higher level of confidence in your expenses. 

6. Are You Taking a Holistic Approach to Managing Your Communication Expenses?

It can be tempting to deal with communication tools on a siloed, country-by-country basis. But a lack of visibility over who’s buying which license can drive up a company’s overheads dramatically. Until now, enterprises did not have an effective solution to manage all aspects of usage and cost in their UCaaS environment so it is not unusual to break it out into separate regions, or business units.  

Remember, unlike traditional telephony, UCaaS isn’t bound by borders.  

A centralized UCaaS solution empowers companies to take full control of their enterprise-wide UC needs from a single dashboard (in a single currency). Enterprises can buy and pay for communication solutions in one country and allocate these to the employees who really need them — no matter where they’re located — and track them to ensure costs and usage  are managed in the most efficient way.

How Calero Can Help Lower Your Unified Communications Costs

If you’ve answered “no” to any of the above questions, you could be missing out on a huge cost-saving potential. With the unified expense management platform from Calero, you can effortlessly discover, manage and optimize your UCaaS consumption. 

Our UCaaS management platform is: 

  • UCaaS Native: It integrates seamlessly with leading UCaaS providers via native APIs. By retrieving data straight from the communication service, you cut out the middleman and eliminate human error and automate the data loading and processing from weeks to minutes.
  • Fully Automated: Setup and configuration take just minutes so your enterprise can begin identifying potential cost savings immediately.
  • A Single Pane of Glass: The solution manages the entire lifecycle of UC — from onboarding, offboarding, and reclaiming underutilized subscriptions among other powerful optimizations.
  • A Unified Platform: This comprehensive solution can manage all of your technology expenses. In other words, it’s a one-stop-shop solution for UCaaS, TEM, and MMS.

If you want to find out more about our UCaaS management platform, please contact our experts today for a free consultation.