June 1, 2020
COVID-19 has spiked interest in shifting to cloud for communications, and experts expect even more investment after the pandemic ends.
Cloud communications spending and demand have been growing at a double-digit rate for the past five years. And the global cloud PBX market is expected to be worth nearly $21 billion by 2023, according to a report from Market Research Future.
The combination of mobility and low cost is attractive to customers, who want the flexibility that shifting to cloud offers. The move to remote working due to the pandemic has proven the benefits of shifting to cloud. And shifting to cloud can foster more effective collaboration.
Mitel’s Scott Peterson
We wanted to learn more about what’s driving this growth in cloud communications and issues involved with shifting to cloud. So we spoke with Scott Peterson, Mitel‘s senior vice president for the Americas.
Mitel recently announced its flagship private cloud service, MiCloud Flex, is now available on Google Cloud as a wholesale offering in the United States, United Kingdom and France. The service provides midmarket and enterprise organizations more choice in cloud models.
In addition, it offers Mitel channel partners more opportunities for growth.
In 2019, Mitel launched its UCaaS offering, MiCloud Connect, on Google Cloud, and says it has since seen a significant increase in demand.
Channel Partners: Can you give some examples of how cloud communications have benefited partners and their customers during the pandemic?
Scott Peterson: Once social distancing protocols started going into effect, businesses had to decide how they were going to ensure business continuity with empty offices. Cloud is purpose-built for ubiquitous access and communications. So partners and customers were able to make the transition with less disruption and focus on other needs of their businesses. For example, some customers transitioned to mobile devices and softphones for their contact center agents leaving their phone on their desks. Since it was part of their cloud license, only a few changes were made to ensure calls never stopped coming.
CP: Is it easier now for organizations to move to cloud communications? If so, how?
SP: It’s fair to say that cloud communications will be a part of more organizations’ long-term strategy. Mitel believes every organization will eventually go to the cloud, but each one has unique business needs with their own requirements. As a result, it’s important that communications be cloud-capable and IT decision makers have the flexibility to choose the cloud that’s right for them (public, private or hybrid), at a time that’s right for them.
CP: What are we likely to see in terms of cloud communications as normal business starts to resume?
SP: There will likely be greater investment in collaboration technologies, especially those that incorporate video communications. The migration to working from home may not have been as disruptive for customers on cloud. But the need to connect via video has proven vital in today’s environment. Before the pandemic, the novelty of video collaboration, which had been around for years, became a necessity as isolated employees sought normalcy in crisis.
CP: Are there any latest trends in cloud communications technology?
SP: There’s a lot of innovation happening in the cloud. Mitel saw a notable transition from team collaboration, which was hot a few years ago, to video collaboration, to environments that allow the use of voice, text and video communications to happen …
… fluidly as context and situations require. Integrations with systems is also another place where cloud communications is growing. In the past, Mitel called it giving machines a voice, leveraging IoT and other technologies as part of a larger communications fabric for an organization. But through APIs and other connectors, cloud communications offer businesses new ways to find efficiencies and advantages. Mitel has also leveraged AI to offer real-time assistance to agents in call centers. These are really exciting times.
CP: How does cybersecurity come into play in terms of shifting to cloud communications?
SP: As more communication resources move to the cloud, security has become a focal point for partners and customers. The flexibility customers enjoy does not come without elements of risk presented by individuals who would seek to take control of an organization’s data or block their ability to make and receive calls. Fortunately, investment in security for cloud communications has grown to meet the challenge. Mitel and other providers are working diligently to harden systems to detect and mitigate threats, provide quick backups and failovers, and to look for smarter ways to encrypt data and prevent loss.
Windstream Enterprise Rolls Out Web-Based Chat
Windstream Enterprise has released a new web-based chat functionality for its OfficeSuite UC Contact Center Services (CCS).
This cloud-based service allows contact centers to handle a higher volume of customer interactions while maintaining management and agent control. And it’s all in a single portal.
Matthew Marion is a senior product manager at Windstream Enterprise. He supports the OfficeSuite UC product suite.
“Web chat for OfficeSuite CCS provides Windstream’s partners yet another multichannel CCaaS solution … ” he said. “This multichannel functionality opens the door for many up-market opportunities that require this functionality, and even additional revenue opportunities with small to medium-size businesses [that] are ready to move beyond voice-only contact centers.”
This new functionality is even more timely with the number of agents working from home, Marion said. It further allows them to operate as efficiently as if they were in the office, he said.
OfficeSuite UC CCS with live chat delivers benefits to both contact center agents and supervisors. Managers can monitor, coach and answer chat messages on behalf of the agent functionality for supervisors. And it allows up to six simultaneous chat sessions per agent, Mario said.
It also offers the ability to handle voice calls and chat sessions at the same time.
“While multichannel contact centers are not new, there are many customers with voice-only contact centers that are forced to find another solution for chat functionality,” Marion said. “This can create a disparate user experience for their agents and ultimately hinders their performance. OfficeSuite CCS now brings that functionality in-house. This proprietary chat solution provides seamless integration with the existing platform.”
Phone.com Unveils Enhanced Video Meetings
Phone.com has introduced its enhanced video meetings service that gives users a collaboration experience from any device.
The service offers video, messaging, screen and file sharing.
Phone.com’s Ari Rabban
“For more than 12 years, Phone.com has developed leading-edge, mobile-first communications solutions that help businesses become agile,” said Ari Rabban, Phone.com’s CEO and co-founder. “We’ve assembled resources and features that ensures businesses remain productive and connected, regardless of their location, and our updated video meetings service reflects these objectives.”
With Phone.com HD video conferencing, users can conduct team video meetings and …
… instant message colleagues. They also can share screens and documents.
Anyone can start or join a meeting from their web browser without having to download, install or update applications.
“Today’s small business users deserve enterprise-grade, omnichannel communications without complexity, the hassle of long-term contracts or exorbitant pricing,” Rabban said. “Our customers need UCC services that are as flexible as they are easy to use, so that’s what we developed.”
Avotus Unleashes ReflectR
Avotus, a provider of communications management solutions, launched ReflectR, an analytics and reporting service for UCC platforms.
ReflectR drives enterprise adoption of UCC by giving business leaders a platform to improve employee engagement through enhanced visibility, the company said.
ReflectR integrates with Amazon Chime and Connect, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and other products. It further enhances remote work environments and creates more efficient collaboration methods.
Sandeep Jain is Avotus’ vice president of global sales. He said with ReflectR his company is providing partners an edge over the competition.
Avotus’ Sandeep Jain
“Due to COVID-19, businesses in North America have been pushed into allowing employees to work from home,” Jain said. “Those leaders who either have implemented UCC or are in the process of implementing such platforms need statistics to assess how well the platforms are being adopted and whether their workforce is able to use them optimally to establish a ‘business as usual’ mode.”
When partners provide ReflectR to their customers, those businesses can increase employee retention and support their productivity, he said.
“Getting their employees able to use UCC platforms to their full extent is mission-critical for today’s businesses, especially considering that employees are the most expensive asset to any organization,” Jain said. “No one wants to waste time changing platforms, or having to retrain or rehire employees.”
ReflectR is both a cloud and on-premises offering that integrates with multiple platforms. And it provides a single view of UCC analytics, he said.
“This all gives our partners a new revenue stream and creates a lock-in effect for them by demonstrating the value of UCC deployments to their customers,” he said. “On top of ReflectR, some partners will even be able to add in mathematical models that can help organizations analyze and forecast their success in a very dynamic marketplace. In this way, partners will be able to sell UCC products based on value to the end customer as opposed to solely on price.”
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