CCA Members Weigh in on the Future of Cloud Communications

2020 was a year of change for Cloud Communications Alliance (CCA) members, and one that required a strong degree of both flexibility and innovation to ensure success. The widespread increase in remote-work arrangements drove greater demand for cloud communications solutions as businesses were forced to recognize the value of the cloud. CCA members must continue to rise to the occasion as their customers seek more robust collaboration tools, greater security, and advanced network technology. We asked some our members to share their observations on the cloud communications industry in the past year – and what they believe the future holds.

Q: How will the great emphasis on collaboration technologies affect the cloud communications market in terms of services offered and market segments pursued?

Scott Kinka, CTO, Evolve IP: At Evolve IP, we have been operating since mid-2019 under the assumption that the days of the fully "bundled" UCaaS suite – telecom, HPBX, and collab/meetings – may be coming to a close. The pandemic has succeeded in making that a reality. The primary reason is the growth of workstream collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams. Businesses moved quickly to adopt these tools in the early days of the pandemic without much governance over how to use them.  Almost a year later, information that used to reside in email and on network storage are now embedded in chats and inline file sharing – and these things cannot be easily moved. Businesses are asking: How do I make this permanent? Much of the cloud comms market will surge to power the collaboration platforms with traditional telecom and hybrid HPBX implementations. Armen Martirosyan, CEO, BluIP: What we experienced last year was what we as CCA members have experienced for the last seven to 10 years – double digit growth – but compressed in a one-year time frame. This has helped the much larger enterprise platforms that had a portion of the enterprise business before. We’ve also seen service providers adapt and evolve both with product offerings and market focus to be able to differentiate from the much larger providers that have also evolved from a single product to a much deeper product offering. And that is why being part of CCA is a critical part of any growing organization. With the strength of its global members, CCA provides opportunities to identify and capture the unique strategies for the even greater growth we will experience because of evolving end-user mindset.

Q: In light of the last year’s explosive growth with collaboration and UCaaS, discuss projections for this continued investment and your company’s approach to the remote-work era.

Alan Rihm, CEO, CoreDial: The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and resulting work-from-home mandates ultimately reinforced the value and need for UCaaS and collaboration solutions and services. For most of us, we were abruptly forced to learn how to manage a completely distributed workforce, and also how to maintain strong communications and engagement both internally and with our customers. Easy to use and secure video collaboration tools took front and center and became a "must have" for any company who could operate remotely to serve their customers.  Some UCaaS providers were better situated to capitalize on the need than others. CoreDial recently acquired a company with a strong video collaboration platform, and we are very well positioned to deliver both SMB and enterprise-class voice and video collaboration services through an easy to use, secure, and fully integrated platform we call CoreNexa. Customers can access CoreNexa via a download client on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and via a modern web browser or mobile app (iOS and Android). Customers of all sizes have realized that measuring engagement is one of the more difficult aspects of the distributed workforce. Through our virtual rooms technologies, we can help optimize employee engagement, improve communications, and ultimately help teams maximize efficiency and effectiveness in ways never dreamed possible. 

Q: How do you see cyber security weaving throughout the future growth of cloud communications and general perception of the cloud?

Matt Townend, Executive Director, Cavell Group: We have seen the importance of security increase dramatically during the pandemic as businesses sent their workers home and had to rethink how they communicated in a secure way. In our U.S. and European enterprise research undertaken during June and July 2020, security was the number one concern when considering a cloud communications service. This research was in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic where news stories were everywhere about the security of cloud solutions.  Recent discussions with enterprises and service providers have highlighted that after the initial concerns from the pandemic have diminished, cloud security might not be the number one consideration – but it is certainly still on the minds of enterprise leaders. Enterprises who are dealing with fundamental change in the way they operate with the inevitable rise in remote work are now having to consider how to maximize the performance of key applications and their security – wherever they are used. Dmitry Netis, Managing Director, Q Advisors LLC: Cyber security – specifically identity access management – is an integral part of the future-of-work or work-from-anywhere enterprise communication and collaboration movement that has risen to unchartered decibels during the pandemic. Obviously user authentication, access control, and data encryption capabilities are needed (recall the Zoombombing debacle early on). But the future of “remote” work also requires a fluid endpoint security solution that combines real-time continuous monitoring and collection of endpoint data based on enterprise data governing rules as well as data protection for mission-critical user workflows. Marrying cybersecurity tools with AI and analytics capabilities would further offer a more holistic solution which I believe every cloud communication and collaboration vendor and managed service provider will need to embrace in due course.

Q: What role do you see SD-WAN playing in the coming years while cloud communications technologies continue to grow?

Shannon Graham, Vice President, Solutions Marketing, TPx Communications: Companies, and the world as a whole, increasingly value two things: agility and cost savings. That happens to be the main highlight for both SD-WAN and telecommuting – so the growth of both is undeniable. As many forecasts suggest, we will see more businesses adopting hybrid and fully remote workplaces indefinitely – and with that, there will be greater interest by companies to support workers’ productivity regardless of their location. As a result, more businesses will seek to switch from traditional MPLS to SD-WAN. At the same time, greater cloud adoption also forces companies to increasingly think about cyber security, so companies are often seeking a WAN solution with security built in or easily combined.  A winning SD-WAN offering will be a complete network security solution that is easy to configure, scale, and manage. Since technology is only part of the equation, growth of managed services providers (MSPs) like TPx will go hand in hand with the growth of WAN technology. More customers are seeking co-managed and fully managed offerings instead of doing it themselves, as it is just easier and more cost effective.

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The CCA provides a forum for industry leaders like those featured here to discuss key cloud communications topics and advance their goals. Our mission is more important than ever during an era where the cloud plays a pivotal role in driving global business forward. Become a CCA member today and get connected to other leaders in the cloud.
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