Service Management solutions are rapidly emerging as a valuable consideration for businesses of all sizes in the unified communication, CCaaS, and collaboration environments. Companies who want to leverage the latest technology for communication innovation also need to ensure they have the right strategies in place for provisioning and managing those tools.  

Used correctly, the right service management technology can help companies to manage and optimise their all-in-one environments. This is becoming increasingly important at a time when businesses are attempting to track services, technology, and solutions in a hybrid work environment. 

To help us evaluate the service management trends from the last year, and explore the potential opportunities of the years ahead, we reached out to SM leaders from Akkadian Labs, IR, Nuwave, and Unify Square.  

What are the most significant customer trends from 2021? 

In the last year, the way companies use and leverage technology in the communication environment has changed significantly. Increasingly, companies are turning to the cloud as a way of keeping their hybrid employees connected and empowered. Provisioning and technology management is happening on more of a remote, and zero-touch basis. We spoke to our industry experts about the most significant trends they’ve seen in the last year.  

Scott Gode, CMO and CPO for Unify Square: 

The Chief Marketing and Product Officer for Unify Square, Scott Gode told us his company has seen a

Scott Gode

a number of trends over the last year, including the increased use of third-party tools. More than 30% of the Fortune 1000 are currently investing in third-party management tools to aid in cloud migration and UCaaS runtime optimisation. 

Additionally, Unify Square is seeing a shift away from cloud phone to conferencing tools, as the momentum for cell phone and mobile meeting technology gains value. “We’re also seeing companies using multiple platforms, with around half of the Fortune 1000 companies using 2 or more UC and collaboration platforms. Additionally, supporting an increasing collection of collaboration platforms in a remote workforce is leading to higher investment in security tools too.” 

Michael Magill, Technical Product Manager for Akkadian Labs: 

Akkadian Labs’ Technical Product Manager, Michael Magill told us the pandemic has significantly changed work environments into a more “hybrid” experience. A large percentage of knowledge workers are spending their time working from home offices, which impacts the way companies manage and oversee technology uses.  

More companies are also moving into the cloud with hosted and managed solutions and increasing numbers of teams are relying on mixed unified communication technologies for collaboration. Administrators are subsequently looking for ways to off-load the responsibility of managing their communication ecosystem to best-of-breed vendors.  

“From our perspective, as part of broad digital transformation initiatives, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of organisations that are looking for automation solutions to streamline repetitive, manual, error-prone work. This applies to UC as well.” 

James Brennan, Head of Product & Alliances for IR:  

The Head of Product and Alliances for AR, James Brennan said there’s been a rapid increase in adoption

for UCaaS tools since lockdowns and restrictions began. Organisations have been forced to adapt rapidly and implement tools to enable collaboration at home. Many companies implemented multiple collaboration tools at the same time, to try and figure out what worked for them, and give employees more options.  

“Many organisations are using the hybrid deployment of communication and collaboration tools (on-prem & cloud deployments), particularly in larger enterprises who need to transition to UCaaS from on-prem tools at a slower pace. What’s more, there’s increased desire for flexibility driven by uncertainty in local government regulations” 

James told us companies don’t want to make commitments in uncertain times, which means more short-term contacts are taking precedence. Additionally, employers are trying to ensure they’re addressing the individual needs of their team members, as employee experience becomes increasingly crucial to success.  

Mark Bunnell, Chief Operations Officer for Nuwave: 

The Chief Operations Officer for Nuwave, Mark Bunnell told us that since the pandemic hit in 2020, it

has served to show companies how important it is to be prepared for anything. Businesses are beginning to realise that migrating their technology into a cloud communications network is the way of the future.  

“With employees leaving their jobs to find other remote work solutions, and giant tech companies moving toward a hybrid work from home environment, I think organisations are starting to realise that in order to survive, they need to empower their employees with a work from home or hybrid solution that is secure, reliable and flexible.” 

According to Mark, investing in the right technology is crucial to keeping companies strong, resilient, and protected. Organisations are finally starting to see the value of empowering employees with tools to help them grow in more dynamic, meaningful ways.  

What will be the top challenges facing end customers in 2022?   

Any significant transformation brings with it a selection of opportunities and challenges. As demand for service management continues to grow throughout 2021 and into 2022, there have been a host of specific challenges for business leaders to consider. We asked our experts for their insights into the most important challenges companies will need to be aware of in 2022.  

Scott Gode, CMO and CPO for Unify Square: 

Unify Square’s Scott Gode told us one of the first challenges companies will need to consider is the rising need for WFH/WFA support. Crucially, it’s not enough to forget about supporting remote employees, and leave them with “best effort connectivity”. IT leaders need to ensure they’re investing in solutions to enable insight into the work-from-home employee.  

The right tools will need to enable easy and quick user provisioning with onboarding and off-boarding solutions, according to Scott. It will also be important for brands to think about how they can support a multi-platform UCaaS environment. “Maintaining separate configurations, provisioning approaches, user management strategies, and using multiple administration console tools becomes extremely complicated and time-intensive.” 

Scott also told us proactive collaboration security management and planning will be essential. “Many organisations are not well equipped to deal with collaboration security threats. They either lack the tools, the budget/staffing, or the prioritised focus on this rapidly emerging sub-segment of the cybersecurity category.” 

Michael Magill, Technical Product Management for Akkadian Labs: 

Michael Magill from Akkadian Labs said that one major challenge in the new age of the distributed workforce is figuring out how to provide high-level service agreements for remote employees. Whether updating existing technologies or rolling out new applications, a hybrid employee base will generally be more difficult to manage than if you had all of your employees in the same space.  

Figuring out how to enable mixed UC environments and moving UC to the cloud will be additional challenges for teams, according to Michael. “UC admins are challenged with how to maintain access and control when all or part of their UC infrastructure is in the cloud, not in a data center they operate. Additionally, since keeping UC data secure is critical, there are challenges related to the broader surfaces for cyber-attacks in the public cloud.” 

Akkadian believes the right tools to overcome the challenges facing companies today will need to simplify the transition into the new age of work, without compromising on secure data and ease of use.  

James Brennan, Head of Product & Alliances for IR: 

The Head of Product and Alliances for IR, James Brennan believes making the hybrid workplace actually work will be a crucial challenge for 2022. Companies will need to invest in optimising UC ecosystems, so video and voice experiences are seamless from any environment. It will also be essential to ensure offices are updated and optimised for the way employees want to work.  

James told us that companies will need to think about upgrading the office network to handle increased

James Brennan

James Brennan

video meetings and implementing UCaaS solutions like Zoom or Microsoft Teams Rooms for hardware, while encouraging employees to use recommended and certified devices for consistent quality.  

“It’s going to be a challenge to meet with user expectations of technology performance, particularly with SaaS. KPIs and insights measure performance of UC ecosystems will be essential to ensure user expectations are being met. Gaining visibility into complex UC ecosystems to identify and resolve issues will be important too quickly and easily. Improved visibility helps to improve service quality and therefore, user experience. “ 

Mark Bunnell, Chief Operations Officer for Nuwave: 

Nuwave’s Mark Bunnell said he believes organisations are currently struggling to find the balance between work in the office and working at home. Finding the right strategy comes with issues to consider. A migration to a cloud ecosystem on its own is difficult, add the management of cloud ecosystems and increased security threats into the mix, and it’s easy for things to go awry.  

According to Bunnell, the current landscape opens the door to a lot of confusion and overspending in the market. “Organisations are struggling to balance one solution over another and in some cases, attempting to manage multiple systems on a location-based ecosystem. (In other words, an organisation may split their Team up, with employees in Dallas choosing Zoom, while employees in their New York campus preferring Microsoft Teams.)” 

Mark notes that these decisions lead to a lot of work for the organisation’s IT team, and a lot of extra stress involved with working with third parties.  

Which technology will deliver the greatest value to your customers in 2022?  

As we look ahead to the future of Service Management in a changing landscape, the rise of new threats and challenges will also give way to the introduction of new technology trends and solutions. We asked our service management experts which technologies they believe will bring the most value to their customers as they prepare to compete in 2022.  

Scott Gode, CMO and CPO for Unify Square: 

Unify Square and Seth Gode believe Automated artificial intelligence and machine learning could be the key to significant growth in the years ahead. Scott told us that intelligent technology is the key to under-the-covers drivers in the form of things like performance management tools for proactively identifying the root causes behind UCaaS performance issues, so they can be fixed immediately. 

Automated AI and machine learning solutions will also likely be embedded into collaboration security tools, according to Gode, to help with discovering threat vectors. These tools will look for risks in platforms like Microsoft Teams, and create policies and workflows designed to enforce governance and best-practice policies.  

Additionally, automation, AI and ML will also appear in digital experience management tools, to “set up rules to mitigate video fatigue by not allowing video meetings to go over an hour, or to not allow scheduling on Fridays, etc.” 

Michael Magill, Technical Product Management for Akkadian Labs: 

Akkadian Labs’ Michael Magill said he believes automation tools and intelligent solutions which minimise the amount of time UC administrators have to spend on non-strategic tasks will be crucial going forward. Administrators need to reduce the amount of time they’re dedicating to repetitive, error-prone work, like adds, changes, moves, and deletes.  

Eliminating these mundane tasks with the help of automation could improve the ability of IT professionals to focus on more strategic processes with a significant bottom-line impact. This is particularly important in an environment where there’s a lot of competition for high-quality IT talent. Michael also told us: 

“Whether implementing a single pane of glass approach to onboard employees into multiple UC applications, zero-touch provisioning via integrations with Active Directory or an IT Service Management tool (such as ServiceNow), off-loading work to an operations team, or enabling employee self-service, there is a win-win outcome when deploying an automated UC service management platform. This includes quicker, more accurate provisioning for an improved the end-user experience, as well as less time spent by the team managing UC technologies.” 

James Brennan, Head of Product & Alliances for IR: 

Head of Product and Alliances for IR, James Brennan said he believes UCaaS will still deliver the best value in 2022. This technology will soon be a non-negotiable investment for every company, according to James, particularly when there’s a lot of uncertainty around the return to work. UCaaS is how the world collaborates and communicates in the new digital landscape, keeping customers, employees, and other people connected.  

Brennan also believes specialised UC monitoring tools with Gartner endorsement will be crucial.  “Organisations using vendor monitoring tools are now realizing that it often does not provide the breadth and depth of data they require to obtain actionable insights. Organisations need a solution that is robust and can support the multiple communication and collaboration platforms that they are using.” 

According to IR, there’s also scope for direct routing as a valuable tool in the years ahead, allowing companies to continue using the tools they prefer. Plus, machine learning and AI for video and audio could be critical to improving user experience, with noise cancellation and video enrichment. 

Mark Bunnell, Chief Operations Officer for Nuwave: 

Nuwave’s Mark Bunnell said flexible, customisable solutions will be the key to success in the years to come. This is why Nuwave is investing so much effort into its iPILOT solution. Whether you’re looking to manage Microsoft Teams or Zoom, or you need to migrate from DR to OC in

Mark Bunnell

Mark Bunnell

Microsoft, the iPILOT service delivers a combined platform for managing the entire cloud voice landscape.  

“iPILOT is at the centre of all of these new cloud solutions and brings an organisation the same visibility and control that they would have with their own on-prem calling solution. iPILOT – solves for a single pane of glass platform to manage migration needs. Full lifecycle support across the entire estate for communications, i.e. Tenant management, voice management and on-demand capacity and MACD support for the entire stack.” 

Bunnell notes that the iPILOT technology features many of the components likely to be essential to companies in the communication landscape of the future, such as simple change adoption, easy user provisioning, and the ability to make hardware purchases in the platform with access to global availability and stock. “We also offer to bring your own carrier integrations, call recordings, and survivability/ call-forwarding features. iPILOT is truly becoming an all-in-one, on-demand solution for anything cloud.”