During my time at UC EXPO 2017, I had the fantastic opportunity to speak with a range of different vendors and experts about the future path for UC, and where communications are headed. One particularly exciting conversation, was the one I had with Dean Bubley, an analyst and consultant specialising in the field of UC for more than twenty years. During his time in the industry, Bubley has addressed just about every possible aspect of UC, including conferencing, messaging, video, telecoms, UCaaS, and more, from an enterprise, business, and consumer perspective.
It’s Dean’s job to address and consolidate all of the different technological developments in the communications area, and try to plan a course for where the industry is headed. I caught up with him to see if he could give UC Today a few directions.
The Biggest Challenges for Enterprises in UC
The first thing I wanted to ask about, is what Bubley considered to be the biggest challenges facing enterprises in this highly-disruptive industry.
“I suppose a lot of it is the tension between user preferences and technological realities. Where are we on the pendulum of centralised vs decentralised decision making?” Bubley commented that, from a centralised perspective, we’ve got things like historical IT and telecom functions merging together. On the other hand, from a decentralised perspective, we’ve got people bringing their own preferences to the workplace, in a “Bring your own UC environment“.
Dean also noted that the sector is starting to see more engagement from different users in the enterprise environment, such as CMOs, instead of just CIOs. In other words, marketing will have its own preferences, and so will the customer experience management team and so on. In this environment of growing UC, voice, video, data, and everything else to do with collaboration are going to become more embedded within the business.
“Rather than being a centralised business service, UC is going to be an ingredient of everything the company does.”
Of course, this new structure presents new challenges. But it also presents a range of opportunities, by giving companies of all levels new ways to interact.
Changes to Collaboration
Continuing our conversation about the way that UC is changing the workforce, Bubley went on to talk about the fact that there have been huge adaptations in the way that people work together. Today, we have things like mobile working, and people have much more fluid locations and roles
than they did before. There are different perceptions to consider regarding how collaboration works. Whether business processes are sequential, what the workforce looks like, and more are all going to be determined by personal preferences, and security.
As new technologies progress, some people will still want to communicate through voicemail, whereas others will want more ad hoc meetings, video, and even VR. Bubley explained: “The same things are happening in the consumer space. We all have our own preferences – Snapchat, Instagram, messaging, or calls. Those home applications are going to merge into the business world too.”
The functions and apps that we recognise as “consumer” products are increasingly becoming a part of the business space too. There are informal ways of communication,
“I find that when I’m in a conference overseas, we might use WhatsApp, Twitter, or whatever else. Those companies are also using APIs to facilitate more B2C interactions where people are looking for conversational commerce and chat box solutions.”
A Move Away from Consolidation
Since most of the enterprises I know of have spent the last decade or so consolidating their suppliers and vendors, I wanted to know where Bubley thought that pattern would be going in the future. He asserted that we’d begin to see the opposite effect, in terms of multiple different vendors and suppliers being used at once.
“As an analyst, I know it’s a nightmare to deal with large businesses. There are months of onboarding processes to deal with, pages of legal documents to design. If enterprises want to innovate, they’ll need to start looking at multiple vendors, and even multiple tiers.”
Bubley felt that it’s easier to innovate when more, smaller vendors and businesses work together, rather than trying to place all of your eggs in one basket. That approach makes sense, but it’s also going to be a big change for today’s communication companies, who have often focused on trying to interconnect as many parts of their business as possible.
Bubley reflected: “This is why Amazon has done well, you can sign up with a credit card and charge to expenses. Imagine if you had to go through a purchase order every time you wanted to tweak something?”
Changing the Nature of Voice Communications
Before we wrapped up our conversation, Bubley wanted to talk about one final thing, a change in the nature of what we consider to be “voice communications.” In the past, voice communication was a phone call between two people. Now, it’s going to be more embedded in different websites and apps, there’s going to be analytics around it.
“I was with a company yesterday who uses sentiment analysis, listening to the tone of voice in a conversation. The future contact centre, for instance, will be able to listen not just to what people say, but how they’re saying it. Are they angry or happy, are they paying attention, do we need to change the way we communicate?”
Dean affirmed that we need to start thinking about voice differently. We have to rethink our communications in terms of the outcomes that they facilitate. After all, the objective isn’t to spend time in a phone call, it’s to close a deal and end up with a happier customer, and a happier boss.
“What we’re hopefully moving towards is a place where technology helps us reach that point. Maybe we’ll be informed that one person doesn’t really like calls, so we should contact them by email, and another person prefers us to get straight to the point, while another customer would rather chat before making a purchase.”
Times are changing when it comes to how a call is created. There’s a lot of value in those changes, but a lot of complexity too, and a lot of risk if something goes wrong.
About Dean Bubley
Dean Bubley is the Founder of Disruptive Analysis, an independent technology industry analyst and consulting firm. An analyst with over 20 years’ experience, he specialises in wireless, mobile, and telecoms fields. He is one of the leading analysts covering Mobile Networks, Service Provider business models, The Future of Voice and WebRTC.