The Cloud is continuing to transform, led by members of the ever expanding Cloud Communications Alliance (CCA). What was one cloud with strong large enterprise has expanded to be a versatile $10 billion industry touching virtually every business.
The recent CCA meeting, which began with a spectacular gala at New York’s fabled La Mela restaurant in Little Italy for a sumptuous 7-course meal of Italian delicacies. Many came for the food but stayed for the stimulating conversation that included talk of expansion and diversity of its record membership.
The opening dinner reception was followed on June 24 with a day of engaging, insightful and often entertaining meeting well-attended by CCA members/executives, including the CEOs of BroadSoft and Vonage. First up was an engaging presentation “Service Flexibility and Agility with Network Function Virtualization (NFV)” by Steve Northridge, director of SDP Product Marketing, who discussed the hot topics of orchestration for simplicity, interoperability, verifiable automation, and resource planning, including hybrid support.
The Oracle executive was followed by a state of the industry presentation, “The Direction of the Cloud Communications Industry” by Mike Tessler, co-founder and CEO of BroadSoft, a giant with over 30% market share and 700 clients that provided and enabled many of the CCA attending service providers to experience double digit growth. While BroadSoft has grown to more than 1,150 employees, 500 technology partners, 2,000 registered developers, 10 million lines, and 350 dedicated to R&D, BroadSoft CEO believes that the company and the Cloud are still in early development, with lots of scaling to come.
Driving growth of the hosted/unified communications (UC) solutions are productivity gains, OPEX savings, efficiency, collaboration, employee demand, and employee well-being, made possible by fully comprehensive abilities featuring audio/video, Web collaboration, call centers/contact centers, and comprehensive/competitive Web RTC solutions.
Still, Tessler challenged, are companies getting all of the benefits of the Cloud? While the reshaping of the Future of Work is inspiring teams to create, collaborate, and perform and helping to build UC leadership. Too many are using siloed UC apps – 77% use UC to access e-mail, 63% are listening to voice mail, and 21% are reading text/SMS. But what about video calls, Web collaboration or other desktop sharing UC benefits?
Innovate, accelerate, stability and simplicity are four key demands of end users who are leading the ongoing migration from desktop phones to the Cloud and mobile networks led by 4G/VoLTE. Leading demand are the need for vertical solutions designed for Government, Healthcare, Hospitality, Education, Legal and Retail markets. Admittedly, creating a strong offering can be challenging but absolutely necessary for expansion to continue.
How do you keep people in your network while providing easy integration? Listen to the customer. Focus on ways to measure productivity and limit the number of clicks to drive the user experience. Ensure easy integration and prepackaged UC services that address office applications, enterprise SAAS, shared storage services and team productivity. Do whatever is necessary to sell through assets that generate more seats and licenses to customers, implored Tessler.
Go to market industry-wide solutions are best. The five trends most worth following are:
- UC MyRoom – A virtual collaboration space with audio/video capabilities that can be quickly scaled to full stack.
- Skype for Business – While Microsoft, in its move from premise to Cloud, is having challenges, they will eventually get figure out the Lync migration, number portability, SIP trunking, and adding voice to Office 365.
- WebRTC Portfolio – in house and open solutions will be fully integrated into SIP client and be advanced by Google.
- Opportunity in Verticals – Hospitality Market Example – every hotel chain has a pilot. How do we bring UC functions to hotel guests? UCONE can be plugged into apps.
- Xcelereate Online Portal
Following the thought-provoking dialogue by the CEO of BroadSoft came an engaging mind-setting “WebRTC: A Practical Introduction” presentation by business and service development expert Alan Quayle. Starting off his talk with an interactive demonstration that introduced WebRTC for the technically minded lay-person, Quayle shared “dangerous WebRTC demos,” developer thinking, money-making opportunities and the ongoing battle of embedded communications apps and browsers in the Codec Wars.
Chaos has led to an evolution still many years and stages to be completed that will lead to the final Modern Era. “We’re in the wild west after the early explorers have mapped some of the landscape, with the privacy and security issues better managed, we’ll see the big guys war it out, and with the market deciding we’ll enter a progressive era where the dominant innovations from the war are consolidated into standards,” said Quayle. “All ending in the modern era where WebRTC is ubiquitous and no longer really mentioned, it’s just there.”
Each browser offers a different WebRTC experience, leading to many “teething issues.” Making matters worse, “the WebRTC train has left the station and it isn’t going to wait for you,” exclaimed Quayle. The final destination still to be determined in a war involving Microsoft and Google.
When Quayle concluded with a pitch for the upcoming TADSummit, to be held the 17th and 18th of November in Lisbon, Portugal and to be Webcast, the new European members took to the podium led by a “Report from the other side of the pond” by Rob Kurver of White Rabbit. Kurver, who heads up the European chapter of the CCA, set the stage on how Europe is comprised of 47 countries, all with different rules and infrastructure but with no net neutrality and many time spanning less than 100 miles apart. Kurver noted that the UK and the Netherlands are well-developed on the Cloud side, and that mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are picking up across the continent, led by Germany.
Four of the new European faces that were introduced at the meeting:
- Summa – the first European real-time communications company to join the CCA
- Destiny of Belgium – pure B2B telecom provider, “with more than 1,000 companies in our client portfolio we are the challenging brand in the market with a proven track record.”
- SpeakUP BV of the Netherlands – a company founded in 2003 on the core values of clear, flexible, and reliable.
- Blueface of Ireland – “a high growth, innovative and dynamic IP telephony services company which is headquartered in Ireland with operations in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Italy.”
The European rookies then gave way to the new American members, introduced by CCA executive director Joe Marion:
- Coredial – Led by dynamic CEO Alan Rihm who practices the Hedgehog Concept, “sells, delivers, manages and invoices for cloud communications services all under your own brand.”
- LogiSense, which enables communications service providers to “Automate, Optimize, and Simplify their back-office requirements such as billing, order management, rating, provisioning, taxing, invoice presentment, and customer self-care – while staying ahead of their competitors with new service offerings, and improved operational efficiency.”
- Nextiva – A cloud-based phone system that is an “all-inclusive unified communication (UC) solution designed for small business to large enterprises.”
Rounding out the event were industry overviews by CCA member Andrew Gaffney, managing director of Q Advisors, Joe Gillette on the Gillette Rules to Success, and a business-building brainstorming led by CCA’s Clark Peterson that enabled members, many of whom compete with each other, to share ideas.
Gaffney said that there is “a lot of runway for unified communications application service providers,” due to UC companies capturing more of the value chain, easy access to capital, contact centers and security. Gaffney said that five factors are driving premium M&A pricing:
- Differentiated platform
- Robust capabilities
- Enterprise customer base
- Quality of service
- Business model
Key is the answer to the question, “Are you able to deliver an answer to a complex situation?” Needing to be part of the answer are scalability, proprietary solutions, CRM/storage, and UC with contact center solutions. “Cloud adoption will continue to grow,” said Gaffney. “The bifurcated market on the Cloud front will mean that proprietary solutions will drive value.”
Formal presentations ended with an enlightening American Management Association case study that started as a 100-seat call center solution to 500 seats across 6 corporate offices. The case study was presented by Joe Gillette of Stage 2 Networks, who shared his 7 lessons of success developed during his AMA client engagement and over his four—decade career:
- “Never stop networking.”
- “Nothing trumps face to face selling and a diligent and complete sales process.”
- “Beware of Salesmen masked as Pundits! Trust what you know.”
- “Define your sales process and tailor your customer relationship management to follow it!”
- “Define your value proposition and communicate it throughout!”
- “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!”
- “Customer service is not a department – it’s everyone’s job.”
All in all this was an excellent and informative meeting regarding the current state and future of cloud communications. The next CCA meeting, “Bringing Voice Communications to the Cloud,” is scheduled for October 24, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ.
More at www.cloudcommunications.com