Changing Patterns: How Unify Sees New Work Models Driving Cloud Adoption
CommsTrader spoke to Unify’s Philipp Bohn about the future of cloud communications
When people talk about change in telecommunications, the first thing they tend to think about is technology. And why not – we are, after all, living through an era of unprecedented technological revolution, which amongst many other things has completely transformed the way we communicate in the space of a couple of decades.
Looking forward, however, Unify’s VP Circuit marketing and CEO of blueKiwi software Philipp Bohn believes much of the fundamental architecture and infrastructure for the immediate future of business communications is now in place. Looking at cloud communications, he argues that it won’t be new technologies which drive adoption, but demand from end users.
“We don’t think that applications or technology will drive adoption,” he said. “It is changing user behaviour and new work models that are creating the need [for] cloud communication and collaboration.
“We are seeing a shift towards a highly mobile workforce, seeking better work-life balance. We are seeing increasingly flexible work environments like co-working spaces and less hierarchical, process-driven organisations, moving towards more agile, ad-hoc models.”
Mobility, flexibility and agility are terms repeated over and over in explaining the benefits of cloud communications. Bohn’s point is that technology’s credentials in meeting these needs is already well established. What will drive further cloud uptake are the human changes we are seeing in the world of work, which will make these attributes more relevant and desirable.
Not that German UC giant Unify intends to take its eye off the ball in innovating with new technology. But offering fresh new ideas is just part of a wider effort to meet shifting customer demands.
“Customers are moving to the Cloud for various reasons,” said Bohn. “They might want to flexibly add or remove users from their system, based on changing business needs, or they might want to move finances from CAPEX to OPEX models.
“Many also want to benefit from a constant stream of innovation. As a cloud provider, we can add new capabilities on a very regular basis, bi-weekly to monthly.”
According to Philipp Bohn, the key is to make cloud solutions as relevant as possible to the needs of end users. Unify is focused on innovating as much in how it packages and delivers its products to market as on technology.
It has developed what it calls the Triple Play Program as a way to offer bespoke solutions through the channel. Using a three-step analysis of customer needs, resellers receive training in matching the right choices from the Unify product suite to what the customer specifies as their priorities.
For Bohn, this approach in designing bespoke solutions for individual customers is critical for helping businesses complete the process of digital transformation and fully embrace the potential of cloud communications. All aspects of business operations are changing, so companies need help choosing the best solutions, as well as help overcoming the barriers of user adoption as people are asked to change habits.
“Digital transformation is touching all aspects of business, from production to sales and marketing through to customer care. Many users have learned to live with email, telephony and screen sharing for the past 10-plus years. New collaboration tools provide a new mix of capabilities and new interfaces, so to ensure adoption enterprises need to train their users and provide some change management before, during and after the deployment process.”
As part of this process, Bohn also believes cloud providers have a role to play in making solutions as user-friendly as possible by driving integration and platform consolidation.
“To support digital transformation and ensure efficient collaboration between employees, we need to bring all relevant use cases – voice, video, screen sharing, team chat, communities, file sharing – into one tool with one easy-to-use interface,” he said.
“Many vendors are offering different tools to cover different use cases. Having to orchestrate work and content across different tools and platforms will lead to a loss in efficiency and motivation to use the new tools. Ideally, we should be providing one, easy-to-use interface to cover all collaboration use cases, so users don’t have to learn to use more than one new tool.”
“User friendliness will ensure high adoption rates in the business, ensuring efficient collaboration along the transformation journey and across the business.”
In addition, Bohn believes that further integration with other business platforms will help to make cloud communications easier to adopt and more relevant to everyday processes. “Collaboration and digital business workflows need to be tightly integrated, meaning any state-of-the-art collaboration platform needs to offer APIs to integrate with workflow apps like task management, file sharing, CRM, etc.”
A final way Philipp Bohn believes cloud communications must keep developing in order to keep up with shifting customer demands is security. The Cloud has done much to throw off the old fears about running sensitive systems through a public, third party network. But with the threat of cyber crime ever present and tough new regulations on data protection and privacy coming with the GDPR, security remains a high priority for end users, and cloud vendors have to respond accordingly.
“Cloud collaboration platforms need to provide a high degree of security, as teams will share a lot of business-critical information needed to create new business models, build new products, etc.,” he said.
“On the product level end-to-end encryption of all communication streams is obviously important. However, there are other ways vendors can meet customer expectations. We are increasingly seeing cloud providers in the UK use local data centres, particularly when serving European-based customers. Security certifications like ISO 27001 for their cloud operations/data centres and ISO 9001 for R&D organisation and processes also provides a guarantee of compliance and quality.”