In the rush to incorporate richer communications and collaboration capabilities and fine tune the user experience, it seems that analytics for Unified Communications have been left at the starting gate. “Unfortunately,” according to Farzin Shahidi, founder and CEO of B2B UC Collaboration service NextPlane, “when it comes to UC platforms most CIOs and business decision makers essentially do not have a picture of the impact of the real-time communications on their companies. Analytics are key to extracting the full value of a UC solution.”

According to Shahidi, the problem is that UC platforms don’t provide analytical data that allows managers to measure communication patterns within an organization or with its federated partners. In a recent InformationWeek survey on the State of Unified Communications, 44% of organizations have made an investment, but without analytics, 0% have any idea about whether these new tools are being used effectively and generating the productivity boost that justified the investment.

In a recent blog on Nojitter, Marty Parker also called out the importance of analytics in UC and called on the vendors to step up to the plate. He noted that valuable data like basic call records is summarily ignored. One example Marty cites is a large professional services firm where they found that 30% of all calls from the company’s clients were going to voice mail or disconnecting in less than a minute (i.e. voice mail greeting followed by hang up). That pointed to a need to design and implement better tools to serve clients. The main point Marty makes is that “Big data and analytics will be most justified where they can streamline workflows or improve business software applications.”

In the new world of business, companies are tightly interconnected with suppliers, distributors, channel partners, and customers which creates the need to extend those rich communication capabilities outside of the walls of the enterprise. Extracting the maximum value out of a UC solution will call for systems and services that help administrators and ultimately CIOs to understand these communications flows and use that information to ensure that business processes are optimally fine-tuned at any given time.

Administrators should have access to such information as the number of users (unique, active, denied), number of chat messages, or voice/video calls (number of calls, minutes used, concurrent calls, bandwidth used). Importantly, that data should cover both internal communications as well as communications with partners. With that type of information in hand, administrators could recognize how extensively the UC capabilities are being employed, what types of exchanges are taking place, and the percentage of users who are participating.

From a productivity standpoint, if your users aren’t making use of the UC tools you have provided, you’re not getting much return from your UC investment. Likewise, if some users are latching onto UC and others are not, you need to understand “why” and take steps to address user adoption issues.

Analysis techniques like this have been used for years in other tech industries. For example, in the mobile space, app designers routinely monitor which features of the app are being used, which are ignored, and seek to find out the “why’s.” Is it too confusing? Is the purpose unclear? Should that function be included in the first place? The idea is that you first have to collect the data, but the real work is in determining what it tells us about patterns and intensity of use.

In the contact center industry, key performance indicators like average time in queue, average holding time per call, abandoned calls, first call resolution and the like have provided insight into the level of service that is being provided to callers. They have also helped to pinpoint problems or signal the need for additional training. In a customer facing environment that can lead to increasing customer loyalty and retention, improving agent efficiency, cost reduction, and improvements in customer satisfaction.

The key is that UC encompasses all forms of presence-based communications including chat, voice and video calls, conferencing, and potentially use of social networking tools if they are available. Having a vision of that total communications web should be the start of the thought process that eventually leads to making the types of business transformations that UC is designed to create. NextPlane’s Farzin Shahidi is particularly focused on analytics, because along with interconnecting diverse UC environments, his company’s UC Exchange Management Portal provides information to enable organizations to measure user adoption and other metrics within the organization and among the members of the partner community.

Given that UC is still in the early stages of maturity, it is not surprising that usage analytics are still largely absent. It is typical with new technologies that the initial focus is on the core capabilities, and with UC that’s all about providing users with a richer set of communications tools. However, as a byproduct, those communications can produce enormous amounts of valuable information about channels and modes of communications. Now that UC deployments are going mainstream, it’s time to move on to mining that data for insights.

View the full article at: UC Strategies