The Cloud Promise with Cisco
The demand for better customer experience has never been higher
For many companies, delivering the meaningful moments that clients need is a process that begins with embracing a more agile and flexible approach to communication. Leading UC vendors like Cisco are supporting that transition with a strategy for a simplified and enhanced move to the cloud.
Director of Collaboration at Cisco EMEAR, Vaughan Klein, spoke to us about the “cloud promise,” and the accelerating path to a workforce better empowered to support customer experience.
The Changing Market in the Last Decade
Vaughan started out with Cisco in 2000 and worked with them for four years before leaving to join a small software company. In 2008, he returned to Cisco and made his way up the ladder to a leadership role for EMEA.
“The transitions in the marketplace have been huge over the last 10 years. We started with phone systems and not much else. Now we’re looking at full-cloud collaboration experiences with next-gen video endpoints.”
Though the transition may seem slower in the UK for now, Vaughan says that there’s a strong desire from customers to move to the cloud, and we’re now at the beginning of a significant transformation in this part of the world.
Cisco has just reported strong financial results for FY2Q19 that impressed analysts with their application revenue rising from 18% to 24%. This increase is driven by the Collaboration portfolio namely the Webex Collaboration, Cloud Calling and Contact Centre suite of products and represents the rising demand to consume these applications from their customer base.
How Cisco Helps with the Path to Cloud
Cloud calling momentum is accelerating. We are now moving away from early adopters to more risk averse, conservative customers. Traditionally most cloud communications business was with SMB and Cisco led with a calling focus then added other services on top. Cisco recognises that large enterprises have different challenges and are often driving projects from a problem solving perspective with meetings and team collaboration and then add calling later.
Early success with large and mid market enterprises are those who are cloud competent already, there are lots of other customers who want to move but need help. Cisco has very large customers – some with hundreds of thousands of lines. They will not switch overnight. Many are planning 3-5 year transition programs. Cisco are helping their customers to make the transition from premises to cloud via hybrid much easier.
Cisco has had a huge customer base for some time now, primarily in the large enterprise space. The intuitive solutions that Cisco has to offer gives companies of all sizes the freedom to explore the benefits of the cloud. Cisco’s state-of-the-art solutions deliver seamless transitions into new and improve communication environments.
“The first thing we have at Cisco is parity. We want people to have the same tools whether they’re on cloud or on-premises”
“From there, we can ensure a streamlined move to the cloud without unnecessary downtime or confusion.”
The BroadSoft acquisition for Cisco was also a significant part of improving their ability to serve customers from all edges of the market. “We’ve always been strong for large companies, while BroadSoft was good with smaller businesses. Together, we can help businesses both large and small to transition.”
Recent feedback from analysts indicates that Cisco’s public/private/hybrid cloud portfolio is a huge and unique differentiator, their innovations and portfolio enhancements make them a crucial partner to enterprises moving to the cloud.
What Does the Cisco Portfolio Look Like Going Forward?
Cisco has been in the cloud for some time now, specifically with the Webex SaaS experience.
With a new invigorated leadership team with Amy Chang at the helm, Cisco Collaboration is really making tracks on improving the whole portfolio with Amy’s background in AI it is no surprise to see this being weaved into the technology across the board. The Cisco team is really focused on simplifying user experience with true cognitive collaboration experiences.
“We’d like to see the capacity for single unified clients and full feature sets on the same environment. We want to eliminate the little gear changes in our portfolio where you need to alt-tab out to another application. That’s the direction we’re heading in.”
From a disruptive technology perspective, Vaughan admitted that he was originally sceptical of the AI conversation. “We probably spoke about as a service model for 15 years before they emerged. I wondered how long and slow the transition might be to AI too. However, then I saw the things that our AI developers were doing, and I became an instant convert.”
In the past, the holy grail of communication and collaboration was a single button for meetings. Now, with cognitive collaboration, screens can recognise users, complete tasks automatically, and listen to voice commands. “There’s no IT team to set things up; you don’t have to even touch your devices. Everyone has access to the intelligence they need to work faster, and more efficiently.”
Predictions for 2019
In Klein’s opinion, 2019 will be a big year for cloud, particularly in the EMEA region:
“I think people will start to bed down with us on this. Private cloud deployments will move faster than public, but we’ll get there”
Specifically, Vaughan noted that the large enterprise “top end” companies will start to make significant progress this year, while the smaller company sees a rapid evolution towards full-cloud collaboration capabilities.
“I’d also like to see more co-creation going on. Some people are still stuck in a voice world, but I think moving into an environment where you can share and edit documents together in real-time will be crucial.”