7 Factors to Consider when Choosing a UC&C Vendor

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Most small-to-medium businesses (SMB) don’t have legacy UC&C software to grapple with, making them more likely than enterprises to move to pure cloud-based UC&C services, according to data gauged by IDG Enterprise. The ratio is 20% versus 7%, respectively.

In its 2015 Unified Communications & Collaboration Survey, IDG uncovered that 33% of IT leaders plan to increase spending in Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C), both hosted and hybrid – a combination of hosted and on-premise services. Spending will increase by an average of 9% through 2016, while enterprises currently lavish an average of $8.1 million on UC&C products and / or services alone. In 2012, a similar survey uncovered that 49% of respondents still used on-premises solutions. That number has only slightly increased to 51% so far, but things are about to change.

Best of both worlds

Hybrid systems are projected  to become the most common UC&C option in the future, with 54% of enterprises and 42% of SMBs likely to have a hybrid UC&C model set in place by the end of next year. The top reasons for investing in this area are improving collaboration (cited by 43% of respondents) and increasing productivity (42%).

CIOs are leading the decision-making pack with a 64% share, followed by senior business leaders (41%), and IT managers (34%). But how do they decide which service is best for them? 58% cite security as the most important factor; 46% think ease of use makes or breaks the deal; 45% prefer to keep an eye on the total cost of ownership; and finally, 40% believe integration / compatibility is the first thing to look at when choosing their UC&C vendor. Interestingly, almost the same numbers can be found in research focusing on cloud investments in general.

Security, UX, integration, costs

Depending on who you interview, costs can outweigh any aspect in terms of adopting new technology, but most IT leaders agree that security needs to be addressed ahead of things like integration, ease of use, or costs. According to a separate Cloud Computing survey, security is the top concern among decision makers (67%), up from 61% in 2014 and higher among finance organizations (78%). Other challenges, like integration and ease of use, fall way behind.

However, the problem with security being the biggest concern is based on what experts consider to be a myth. Cloud providers use heuristic systems to detect unusual behavior long before the data can be tampered with, while hybrid models enable businesses to keep sensitive data locally and only outsource the apps and services that pose less security concerns.

43% are indeed highly interested in integration, followed by meeting industry standards (35%). Cloud management and monitoring tools will soon be cloud-strategy material, as will be cloud security management tools. 54% of organizations contemplating cloud adoption say they need to be sure their cloud service providers’ solutions meet security and compliance requirements before they make a commitment. Compared to SMBs, enterprises are even more interested in this aspect (48% vs. 62%). Another top demand is simplicity. 34% want their vendor to simplify access to cloud services before they make any further commitments, up from 26% in 2014.

Organizations want to procure cloud in a way that suits them best, but models like pay-per-year, pay-per-month, annual and monthly subscriptions etc. makes selecting the right cloud service difficult and confusing, according to to more than three quarters of CIOs interviewed in more recent studies. Furthermore, 80% of CIOs believe existing software licensing agreements impede cloud migration of certain services. The least confusing model appears to be pay-as-you-go, which eliminates confusion while also reducing the total cost of ownership for service providers. So…

  1. improve collaboration
  2. increase productivity
  3. address security
  4. simplicity / user experience (UX)
  5. integration / compatibility with systems already deployed within the organization
  6. meet industry standards
  7. pay-as-you-go

These are all factors to consider when choosing a UC&C vendor for your business. Both private and public cloud vendors should find ways to support no CAPEX and low OPEX, entice businesses to replace on-premise legacy technology, and enable business continuity in order to spur investment, and above all, to create value.

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