The real estate agents’ mantra is “location, location, location.” You’ve certainly heard the phrase enough. In a nutshell, “location, location, location” means identical homes can significantly increase or decrease in value based on location. When it comes to cloud telephony, ATC’s mantra is “network, network, network.” What determines the underlying success or failure of any application running across the WAN, including voice? It’s the network. Here’s Masergy‘s take on the same topic.
When it comes to purchasing Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), one single rule determines the success or failure of the investment:
The user experience is everything.
Above all else, communication services must work. Your CEO won’t tolerate dropped video conference calls during the board meetings, and your call center needs high quality voice service to deliver a superior customer experience. So, how do you deliver on user expectations?
The quality of any unified communication experience is determined by two things: the technology (i.e. the end-user endpoint or service features) and the network that backs it.
Naturally, these two elements outline how executives should evaluate unified communication solutions, but the two are far from equal. Here’s why the network should carry more weight in your decision-making process.
Why the Network Matters
With latency and jitter non-negotiable for most enterprises, network performance matters. Much like the hidden underbelly of an iceberg, the network is the massive behind-the-scenes communication courier. It must provide perfect reliability in order to keep VoIP calls and video from turning into digital mush. Reliability requires (among other things) dynamic bandwidth control as well as full visibility into voice and video performance. Software defined network platforms are best positioned to deliver on those two points, serving up application intelligence and empowering administrators to understand where bottlenecks are occurring so they can modify bandwidth as needed.
Technology Equality: Unified Communication Features are Table Stakes
As you shop around, you’ll notice that many unified communication features are similar. Most UCaaS solutions all have multi-channel bells and whistles including voice, video conferencing, video calling, instant messaging, voicemail-to-email, etc. Some feature nuances and advanced requirements may swing your decision making in one direction or another, but for those with basic requirements, many platforms will fit the bill. That’s why the network often becomes a central conversation.
Avoiding Pitfalls and Identifying the Best Network to Complement UCaaS
Some communications providers don’t offer managed network services with their UCaaS solutions. Instead, they dazzle you with ad speak and promises of cutting-edge technology, basically calling the network irrelevant. The truth is, the network is critical, and these vendors would rather put the burden of providing network connectivity on you.
Some providers may try to tell you that your existing cost-effective, broadband Internet access is all you need. Beware! Public connectivity is a shared resource, known as a mere “best effort” connectivity type. It is prone to jitter and latency particularly when routing traffic across long distances. Some may claim, “Broadband is so cheap–just buy two connections” (one for primary and one for backup redundancy). But here at Masergy, we advise against that strategy because latency and jitter delays will still be an issue on the broadband failover path. We believe critical and real-time services should always traverse private network architectures to ensure packets arrive in sequence and on time. This ensures your mission-critical IP traffic receives the predictable outcome customers expect. At the end of the day, put critical applications on networks that can accommodate it.
Here’s what will likely happen if you have different providers for network and UCaaS: When you call to complain to your new UCaaS provider about the quality of your communications service, they will quickly pass the buck, telling you to call your network service provider. The result: a frustrating customer experience.
UCaaS providers who own their own network and offer SLA-backed connectivity to complement their technology differentiate themselves in the market. Look for a provider that offers global unified communications solutions but also specializes in network service excellence, helping you solve for both technology and connectivity. This bundled partnership brings value in the form of a single source for accountability. It holds the provider responsible for both the initial technology and service delivery, which adds up to superior reliability, support, and features.
Before you buy, ask yourself these questions:
- Does it make sense to have separate network service and UCaaS providers? What impact will this have on my IT team?
- Has my network services provider built a voice platform that delivers seamless reliability and advanced communications services that complement my network?
- Can my UCaaS services provider guarantee a seamless experience with minimal jitter and delay?
Masergy has more here.