Hype vs Reality: Tollring Talks 2020 Tech Trends
What’s next for the Tech Landscape?
As we head into the new year, it seems like everyone is talking about what the next disruptive technology will be in the UC and collaboration market. Over the last year, we’ve seen countless innovations in everything from 5G and AI, to IoT and automation.
While many of these new technologies offer exciting new opportunities, they also present challenges that need consideration. It’s important for businesses to think carefully about how the bleeding edge of technology is going to translate into real market propositions we can sell today and in the near future, and that end customers can benefit from straight away – without feeling like guinea pigs.
Tollring, one of the market leaders in the data visualisation world, is offering today’s service providers and resellers access to the information and insight they need to take advantage of emerging tech. I spoke to the Director of Strategic Alliances at Tollring, Carl Boraman, to gain his thoughts on how partners are evolving to deal with the latest tech trends.
Everyone’s interpretation of the emerging tech landscape seems to be different these days. I was interested to find out what Tollring sees as the “reality” for digital transformation and exceptional customer experience in the modern landscape. Carl told me that cloud technologies are bringing many of the innovations of the future into current reality. “However, people frequently get caught up with the acronyms like AI and IoT and forget about what really matters – how will the technology directly help or improve my business?”
To truly deliver on emerging tech trends today, Tollring believes that resellers need to gain a better understanding of their customers’ day to day needs. This should focus on the pain points that business owners and managers need to solve. This most commonly results in them developing a solution in-house, but not always.
“Traditionally we’ve developed 100% of our tech in-house, but there are some emerging technologies for which it makes sense to work with another vendor. Speech analytics is the best example. Tollring can take time building and developing its own speech analytics engine or partner with a leading platform provider. We go through a 10-point test to establish the route we should take, including product roadmap, geographical coverage, commercials, and general fit. Resellers need to take a similar approach, looking at what their customers need and then deciding whether it’s something they can build and deliver themselves, or whether to partner with a technology vendor with products that are ready to go, as well as the skills, knowledge and resources to deliver. In doing that, the reseller can focus on improving customer experience and maintaining high standards of service delivery.”
Carl also told me that there are challenges for resellers in determining what kind of commercial strategies they can actually sustain in the current landscape. “There’s a lot that has to be done to deliver these emerging technologies. And there are a lot of question marks: Does the commercial model work, will people buy it, and who’s going to buy it? Without answering these questions honestly, and with data, it’s easy to get carried away. Visions of amazing tech that helps a small number of customers are great, but can it open up opportunities for more end users, and for our partners?”
Carl believes that there’s a lot of opportunity out there for resellers that can pivot and adapt according to the demands of their specific market segment. As new and exciting technology enters the marketplace, today’s resellers need to think about how they can translate this into their current and new customer offerings.
“With cloud-delivered solutions, differentiation is a challenge. To combat this, resellers need to spend more time understanding how people are using existing technology in their business, and understanding the vertical market segments they play in. This will allow them to better align their products and services and package themselves as ‘knowledge experts’.
“Right now there’s a real cross-section of businesses adopting cloud telephony. Within our customer base we’re seeing certain market segments adopt the technology quicker than others”
“Organisations like law firms, doctors’ surgeries, consultants, retail and estate agents seem to be the early adopters. Of course, these organisations aren’t just buying hosted telephony, they’re also moving to other cloud delivered services like accounting software, UC, CRM, etc. Resellers could be leaving money on the table if they don’t think about where they can add value in bringing these services together.
“Whereas historically software customisation was required to fulfil this specific customer need, the availability of good APIs will be essential in helping resellers to continue to satisfy that requirement.” In its latest release, Tollring has focused heavily on making APIs available to the reseller and end customer to give them the flexibility they need.
“We’re making the customers data more accessible and instantly usable, whilst constantly listening to the needs of the market.”
“We want to help move the benefits of business insights that can be derived from call analytics to a much wider audience within medium and smaller enterprises and help them to grow”
Customer Challenges with New Tech
With the technology landscape evolving at such a pace, I was interested to see whether Carl felt that resellers and service providers are currently meeting with customer expectations. “There’s a lot of expectation for technology to be delivered perfectly out of the box, without any complications.”
It’s not just resellers and partners that are facing challenges with the implementation and adoption of new technology either. Customers and end-users are struggling too. One of the biggest challenges right now is that people are still comparing prices to decide whether cloud is more valuable than on-premises. “At first glance, the cloud model may look more expensive, but that’s because companies aren’t taking into account the hidden costs of the on-prem solution and the benefits of the cloud.”
According to Carl, when they’re focusing on initial expenses alone, it’s easy to ignore the value of the cloud. However, cloud solutions offer a lower whole-life cost. With cloud-delivered solutions vs on-prem, companies are getting access to future-proof technology that can stay up to date for years to come without costly investment. Additionally, the cloud brings tools and capabilities that the business may not have had before.
“Resellers and their customers can look for opportunities to improve customer service, productivity, and efficiency ‘off the bat’ from a cloud-delivered solution that might have taken months or years before. Cloud offers a low-risk, fast to roll-out and fixed-cost preposition However, it can be difficult for larger and legacy companies to make this jump into the new world of cloud. The migration needs planning and can take time. Furthermore, customers won’t buy a new solution if it doesn’t do at least what their current solution does. They expect feature parity and won’t want to compromise. Again, speech analytics is a good example. Its important the technology roadmap acknowledges the depth of incumbent solutions and accommodates the functionality customers expect, rather than just presenting them with the slice of functionality that is based on the emerging tech.”
According to Carl, for now, Tollring is concentrating on making information more accessible to resellers and partners. “Our community needs to understand their end users better. Our focus is on the continuous improvement of our products both in terms of reliability and new features, as well as making sure we can offer the best levels of product and technical support to our reseller partners. We’re also thinking about all the compliance requirements that come into play with certain verticals too, whether that be PCI DSS, GDPR, general data privacy, HIPAA and so on.”
Carl is keen to emphasise that Tollring’s priority isn’t to simply launch new technology into the market as quickly as possible. Instead, they want to make sure that all the features and functionality that customers need are there, and easily accessible.
“We’re in an early-adopter’s market right now, but that doesn’t mean we can forgo meeting the requirements for resiliency, security, compliance and performance. Our market, and our partners, rely on it”