From the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive surge in demand for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solutions to support a more flexible, mobile and diverse workforce. However, last week’s widely reported Microsoft Teams outage was a timely reminder to avoid an over-reliance on a single UCaaS solution for enterprise communications.
Microsoft Teams has become the default collaboration choice for many organisations with at least 320 million monthly average users worldwide, which means any outage will significantly affect business operations and productivity.
Luckily, the recent Teams outage began when we were already deep into the Australia Day long weekend (Friday morning US time), so it would have had minimal impact on business here. Next time could be very different.
You have to remember that Microsoft Teams is not designed for enterprise-grade voice services. With a 99.99% uptime SLA for Teams’ calling plans, phone system and audio conferencing, its main vulnerability is service disruptions.
‘Four 9s’ equates to 52 minutes of downtime a year, so if your organisation is dependent on telephony and voice traffic, imagine the operational impact from a major outage if you were relying solely on Teams.
Communication will grind to a halt, workflows will be disrupted, and customer service will suffer. While losing telephony and voice services might just be an inconvenience for internal communications, the impact on your customers will be far more damaging.
Avoiding an over-reliance on Teams is more than just reliability; it’s also about functionality. Any organisation with advanced telephony requirements – such as hunt groups, attendant consoles, IVR, analytics or call recording – will be limited by just using Teams. It’s the same if your organisation is looking to increase operational efficiencies and customer experience through third-party application integration, which could include anything from CRM or helpdesk systems to online learning or patient management platforms.
Similarly, organisations with advanced customer service operations are going to be much better off with a fully integrated telephony and contact centre platform, rather than relying on the limited capabilities offered by Teams alone. Having that capability removes silos and encourages communication and collaboration between different departments and employees, which in turn leads to better customer experience and greater visibility and reporting across the organisation.
If you think about avoiding this over-reliance on one communications platform in financial terms, we talk about not putting all your eggs in one basket and diversifying your investments. That strategy helps to reduce risk and ensure that the positive gains generated through one investment will cushion or outweigh any losses generated by another investment.
The same strategy applies to UCaaS. Diversification is not just a safety measure; it’s a strategic approach to improve overall business operations and functionality, and to ensure continuity and resilience. By integrating multiple communication platforms, organisations can still benefit from the powerful collaborative qualities of Teams but back that up with access to rich telephony features and an enterprise-grade voice platform with ‘five 9s’ availability. That will mitigate the risk of outages and gaps in capabilities and ensure that your operations remain unaffected by the shortcomings of any single provider.