New UC implementation options through cloud-based services will significantly change the metrics for technology costs. This will be particularly true as voice and video communications join automated business applications in becoming more software rather than hardware dependent. The software approach will also facilitate the interoperability and integration of the communication and the business computer applications that must now support both desktop and mobile endpoints.
The transition to hosted services and BYOD mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) will shift the emphasis of technology implementation planning factors from TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), which was applicable to acquisition and maintenance of premise-based hardware and software applications, to hosted and managed application service offerings.
While ROI (Return On Investment) is still an overall practical measure of benefits from any technology investment cost, the costs really should be correlated with different types of benefits that have dollar costs associated with them. Going to separate levels of benefits and related costs will make it easier to determine how applications can be used most cost effectively and how usage needs should be supported cost efficiently.
New analytics are becoming a key tool for tracking application activity that will enable better understanding about who uses what applications, when, and with what results. Analytics can also provide immediate feedback on how well the application is designed from a user interface perspective, as well as indications of workforce performance in using applications by internal staff for their different job responsibilities (“roles”).
Total Cost of Usage (TCU)
Probably the most logical metric that should be applied to any application or combination of applications is what I would call “Total Cost of Usage.” The amount of actual usage for any communication of business application is a measure of value for a particular application. Usage analytics will also provide feedback about who (type of user) may be getting the most value from that application; that information provides further insight into the value that application generates for a particular business process.
Putting those factors together will be particularly useful as online, self-service applications become more mobile and highly focused on particular information needs of individual end users. The number of such “public” applications is already humungous, but they are just starting to make their way into enterprise controlled “app stores.” This is where TCU will become important as such “mobile apps” will require constant updating to meet enterprise BYOD needs, as well as operational business demands.
Another perspective on application TCU will be its UC enablement in terms of immediate access to live assistance, e.g., “click-to-call/chat.” This factor will be a major source of additive labor costs, as well as a measure of end user satisfaction (internal staff, external customers). Mobile apps will become a major activity gateway to the UC Contact Center of the future, as increased access to information will precede the need to access assistance. So, the cost of application usage should include costs of optional related assistance.
Total Cost of Application and User Support
Although there may appear to be overlap with the above described usage costs, I am suggesting that support costs here will fall into the more traditional roles of IT for application software maintenance, associated hardware and infrastructure maintenance, new integrations, end user training, and “Help Desk” functions. Again, by applying analytics to application support activities, the value of individual application usage can then be matched to direct support costs for those applications.