It’s safe to say that the communications environment is evolving, and that evolution is happening at a rapid pace. The way that people communicate inside of a business is changing, with collaboration tools and video conferencing, while outside of the company, conversations with customers are growing increasingly complex.
I sat down for a chat with Xavier Martin, VP, Market Development, Communications Business Division at ALE – a market leader in communications, to discuss how Hybrid Cloud technology is helping companies to bridge the gap between the past and the future. He told me that hybrid communications are the combination of services delivered from the cloud, and technology deployed on the ground.
“Organisations can use hybrid to get the best of both worlds, by connecting the ground to the cloud. They get to continue using their past investments while accessing new innovations with consumption-based subscriptions.”
Is Hybrid Communications Popular Today?
I asked Xavier whether, from ALE‘s perspective, the hybrid communications world is popular today. He told me that there’s been a lot of traction in the space because hybrid cloud technology is helping to eliminate the challenges that companies have faced in the past when it comes to embracing new technology.
“There are two major problems that hybrid communications are solving right now. The first in the Unified Communications space, where organisations have consistently been trying to provide employees with better tools, but haven’t been able to afford costly, and difficult-to-maintain on-premises UC. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) delivered in a hybrid environment allows companies to continue using their “on the ground” services while accessing the latest technology as a service.”
Xavier noted that UCaaS allows for not only the adoption of UC&C tools but also the expansion of new solutions within organisations as communication silos start to break down in companies, participants from around the enterprise can collaborate in the same environment, without having to wait for a new upgrade to be installed.
“On the other side, we’ve got CPaaS, which is all about integrating business applications with the cloud. CPaaS becomes a digital hub in the modern environment connecting people, applications, objects, and everything a company needs to thrive. It helps you to understand your business processes better, reduce latency, and enhance decision-making processes.”
Do You Think Hybrid is a Stepping Stone to the Cloud?
Some cloud-focused companies believe that hybrid technology is just a “mid-way” point in the digital transformation paths of today’s businesses, helping people to get to an end-goal of complete cloud communications. Xavier told me that this view changes depending on the organisation and where they want to put their system.
“We usually see organisations that want to continue leveraging their past investments. They have no intention of putting their entire stack in the cloud because they want to be able to control their system on the ground and access the cloud at the same time.”
“For these people, hybrid is the final destination. However, the route they take into hybrid can vary.”
According to Xavier, some companies prefer to start their hybrid experience by moving directly into UCaaS, whereas other deploy UCaaS as a separate instance and gradually connect it to their system. ALE also notes that Hybrid UCaaS seems to be particularly popular among the smaller to mid-sized companies in the market today, while CPaaS hybrid routes are more appealing to companies that are larger in size.
What’s the Best Strategy for Moving into Hybrid?
With so many routes available to enter a semi-cloud environment, I was interested to learn what kind of direction Xavier suggested for people interested in exploring the hybrid cloud. He told me that the path will depend on the needs of the business.
“Organisations can either implement hybrid communications step by step as their digital transformation (DX) process takes place, or jump straight in. For instance, they could use UCaaS as a standalone service, to begin with to help their users get used to the new functions, then connect to their PBX later. For CPaaS, the route will depend on your business priority. Most companies we see start using CPaaS to reinvent digital engagement among customers.”
Xavier noted that digital engagement is a common concern for companies today and that CPaaS allows them to implement things like chatbots and integrate with CRMs so that they can learn more about their consumers as they go. As the customer conversation continues to change, and clients demand more than just the standard phone conversation from customer service environments, CPaaS paves the way for innovation.
“If I was to give direction from a CPaaS perspective, I’d recommend embracing hybrid by first looking at how you can deliver the best digital experience to your customers.”
Is the Communications Buyer Changing in the Hybrid Cloud World?
With hybrid technology like UCaaS and CPaaS changing so much about the communication environment, I wondered whether ALE had noticed a change in the buyer journey too. In the past, it might have been a small business manager procuring a phone system for people to use, but today’s vendors have an entirely different experience to sell.
“Today’s customers are different in every environment. The consumer base for every business is empowered, active online, and communicating with people in different ways. Companies need to catch up with these new user habits, and make sure that the services they offer align with the systems that customers use in their private worlds.”
In ALE’s perspective, hybrid tools like CPaaS give companies a chance to start unlocking the insights into their buyer that they need to deliver a more enhanced experience. “It means that organisations can consider social, mobile, cloud and big data all in the same environment, to bring context to their customer conversations.”
The changing nature of buyers everywhere is part of why companies like ALE champion the benefits of hybrid. “Without things like CPaaS, you can’t access the information you need to help your business drive the best customer experience. Any company interested in true, and valuable digital transformation needs to consider hybrid.”