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The Growing Importance of AI in UCaaS Platforms

Research indicates that five types of AI feature are becoming increasingly important in UcaaS platforms. However, flawless performance remains imperative, writes Jason Chaffee, senior director of product and solutions marketing at NETSCOUT.

5 Min Read
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If you haven’t been bombarded with news stories lately about how artificial intelligence is transforming business operations, then you’ve most likely been living on Mars. AI is a hot topic in nearly every corner of every industry. A recent Forbes report found that 64% of businesses believe AI will help increase their overall productivity. The same report projected an annual growth rate in AI technologies of 37.3% between 2023 and 2030.

One area where AI has been making a significant difference is with unified communications and collaboration as a service (UCaaS) platforms. As of 2023, No Jitter reported that Microsoft Teams had over 670 features; RingCentral offered more than 800 features and enhancements; Webex by Cisco provided more than 1,000 features; and Zoom had 1,400 features. Some of the latest features focus on AI enhancements, such as minimizing extraneous noises from calls and meetings, blurring the environment around the participants, and providing transcripts of calls and meetings. Likewise, the expansion of AI-driven functionality is fast becoming a prime differentiator for UCaaS offerings as these market leaders have doubled down on AI to fuel growth.

In fact, a 2024 NETSCOUT study exploring various characteristics that IT decision-makers evaluate when selecting and maintaining UCaaS platforms shows just how important emerging categories of AI features are and how they are poised to shape the market in the year ahead. 

Related:10 Microsoft Teams Alternatives, From the Free to the Pricey

Evaluating the AI Features of UCaaS Platforms

Integration of advanced AI features into UCaaS offerings is improving the usefulness of these tools. The NETSCOUT study looked at a number of these popular features, including the following: 

1. Prioritizing MessagesAI algorithms are particularly well-suited for ranking incoming messages based on relevance, urgency, and value to the business. By automating the sorting of messages, companies can quickly flag those that require immediate attention, ensuring high-priority communications are promptly addressed.

The NETSCOUT survey found that 57% of respondents indicated that the AI-based prioritization of messages by urgency was extremely important, and 39% stated this feature was somewhat important.

2. Editing Messages – For busy professionals, ensuring that typed messages in a UCaaS application are “well written” can be burdensome, particularly if writing isn’t a strong suit. This is where AI tools that assist in editing for spelling and grammar are particularly useful. AI is particularly adept at evaluating writing for spelling and grammar, offering suggested corrections and possible improvements, such as alternate word choices. These programs look at sentence structure, style, and tone, and then offer ways to improve the clarity, flow, and cohesion of the messages. 

Related:Intelligent Meeting Rooms: How AI Is Reshaping Meeting Room Experiences – and Raising New Issues

According to the NETSCOUT survey, 56% of respondents considered using AI for editing messages extremely important, and another 37% indicated this feature was somewhat important.

3. Text Summaries of Messages and Calls – With an increasing number of employees stuck in back-to-back meetings, it's little wonder they feel overloaded with messages and calls piling up that require their attention. Once again, AI-powered features in UCaaS tools can come to the rescue. AI-created summaries of voice messages and calls can provide a concise synopsis of key points that can be easily and quickly reviewed. These summaries can condense long messages into highlights, which in turn fosters greater productivity.

In the NETSCOUT study, 54% of respondents said they viewed AI-generated text summaries of voice messages and calls as extremely important, while 38% stated this feature was somewhat important.

4. Automated Text Responses – As the workforce rapidly transitions from baby boomers to millennials and Gen Z, reliance on text messaging has grown. One study found that 75% of millennials and Gen Z Americans prefer texting to calling. The same study revealed that the average text message open rate is 99%, as compared to 33% for email.

Given the rigors of the typical workday, this begs the question: Who has time to respond to all those text messages? The answer is AI. AI-generated responses to text messages offer an automated means of handling large volumes of text messages. The user can typically define the specifications for the text replies, including tone, length, and keywords.

The NETSCOUT survey found that 53% of respondents consider AI-generated text responses extremely important, and 42% feel this feature is somewhat important.

5. Automated To-Do Lists – Finding ways to maximize productivity is imperative for a business. That means staying organized. AI features offered by some UCaaS offerings include AI-generated to-do lists that provide intelligent task prioritization and automated scheduling. Such task management tools help optimize day-to-day productivity in an intuitive and highly personalized way.

The NETSCOUT survey found that 53% of respondents viewed AI-generated to-do task lists as extremely important. Thirty-eight percent said this feature was somewhat important.

Flawless Performance Requires End-to-End Visibility

Despite all the promise of AI and its productivity gains, none of that matters without the flawless performance of the underlying UCaaS offering or platform in the first place. Unfortunately, the same NETSCOUT study found that issues with UCaaS platforms are often responsible for a significant portion, if not a majority, of problems reported to IT help desks. Frequently reported challenges include delays in joining meetings, dropped calls, and poor video quality. As AI features become more popular, they will inevitably begin to vex help desks at greater frequencies, too.

Of course, the best way to continue delivering peak performance requires proactive monitoring and analysis of application and network health based on end-to-end visibility spanning the enterprise and its UCaaS infrastructure. Notably, deep packet inspection and analysis at scale empower enterprises with the type of third-party visibility into performance needed to diagnose tricky performance challenges that may or may not appear within UCaaS offerings’ dashboards. This significantly reduces the time to repair and allows IT teams to proactively address latency, jitter, or other anomalies that could disrupt the quality of UCaaS tools.

Indeed, when performance is already assured, AI features can be a game-changer for today's UCaaS customers. These enhanced AI capabilities not only streamline communication and collaboration processes but also improve the overall user experience by driving productivity and efficiency in the workplace. But for these AI features to work well, visibility into the platform’s health and performance is required, and as with any new features, there are always new problems to support and anticipate. 

About the Author

Jason Chaffee is the Senior Director of Product & Solutions Marketing at NETSCOUT. With over 25 years of experience, Jason Chaffee works closely with NETSCOUT’s executive team to drive product development and marketing for the company’s enterprise network and application performance monitoring solutions. His previous work experience includes time at Xerox, Fluke Networks, and Transflo. He has an MBA from the University of Denver.

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