Digital transformation takes hold
The last fifteen years has seen tremendous change in terms of technology, network quality and device functionality with digital transformation taking hold.
The culture within businesses for team collaboration as part of business process is now firmly established driving increased usage of audio, web and video conferencing, as well as chat, messaging and presence services.
The market, which used to be served by Telcos, is now attracting power brands such as Google and Amazon (Chime), who are putting collaboration and digital transformation at the heart of their cloud services with enterprise voice services seen as the ultimate prize.
Adoption of new ways of working varies by sector and company size
There’s no doubt that the collaboration market is growing fast. But like most growing markets, that picture is not universal. The cultural change to the way we work and communicate varies according to which sector you look at, and below the very top tier of large enterprises, the picture is different.
A phenomenal opportunity exists in the collaboration marketplace. This explains why the big brands are entering this space with the main part of their strategy focused on collaboration and driving cloud through meetings.
That having been said, I don’t believe the rate of change will be as fast as everyone thinks. There remains the need to drive adoption, change business culture and process to get the best from the technology.
It’s taken 15 years for desk top conferencing to be accepted as a normal business process. And there’s still a way to go before these services are truly easy to use. Many web conferencing services are bewildering even if the industry kids itself they’re not! The process will be an evolution, not a revolution.
The role for service providers will grow to deliver the required training and support
Customers are demanding integrated services tailored for their specific needs with high levels of customer support.
The growing popularity of services such as Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams that have integrated messaging, audio, video, and web conferencing, together with the growth of mobility and much improved network standards will continue to drive a big increase in the next 15 years.
In addition, IT specialists are wrestling with the challenge of integrating disparate elements of a growing or newly merged company’s communications infrastructure.
All this makes the new world of unified communications complex. This is in contrast to what the major purveyors of unified communications are putting out. You can go and buy Cloud PBX licences from Microsoft to replace an existing phone system, but without the service wrap, most companies will struggle to make it work. The same goes for Cisco or any other UC vendor for that matter.
You need the training, support, account management and quality control overlaid on the basic services, integrated with existing infrastructure. Helping companies make the best of their investment in the new technologies by training staff and encouraging user adoption, is another vital part of the Service Provider value add.
Customers need certainty and security of service delivery and don’t trust their own systems to deliver it. Mission criticality and increased complexity means that the role of the service provider hasn’t really changed.
So, there’s plenty of runway for businesses to travel down the unified communications road. But many are still at the beginning of this journey in spite of the hype.
Service providers can take them on that journey and get them to their destination quicker.