Technology Trends Driving Adoption of Collaboration Tools
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Jon Brinton, EVP & President, Mitel Cloud Division [NASDAQ: MITL]
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Using Collaboration for Insightful Business
By Kevin McCarron, Vice President Collaboration, Carousel Industries
Trends and their Influence on Company Strategy
The trends are drastic, whether it is convergence voice on IP networks or video as opposed to siloed separate networks. We are at the point where we are fully converged; there is very little that is not. First, we saw the convergence of voice becoming an IP-based application, later down the road we started seeing these applications run on commodity hardware. Then we saw virtualization, and with that, the video became something that was converged and not separate. The meeting is an area that has evolved tremendously. Not too long ago, we still had most organizations asking end-users if they were going to use video or voice bridges or web conferences. That is not necessary anymore. The trends are rarely reflected within IT service providers, integrators or enterprises. When we work with a client, we ensure that they are looking at things holistically; so it is still common to have a telecom team, to have a video team, and an applications team. You still have to get relatively high up in the IT stack to see where all that comes together, and yet that is the reality of how a business utilizes the technology.
Identifying the Right Partners
Companies need to know that their partner has a viable financial model, if they don’t, one of two things is going to happen— They’re going to sell their organization, and then the partnership takes on a different tone that could be better or worse, but it not stable; or they go out of business.
The trends are drastic, whether it is convergence voice on IP networks or video as opposed to siloed separate networks
If companies have a partner that isn’t strong or has a siloed voice model, for example and has not been able to develop their portfolio side of it, is very troubling. Our partners should not be overly hardware focused, as the industry is software-based today. The partners should be financially stable, have portfolio flexibility and have the ease of doing business with. They should have flexible consumption models; companies do not want to put a metaphorical gun to their client’s head to try and define the consumption model that they have to choose. They need to be open to having a healthy developer ecosystem as a variety of consumption models are still needed in the cloud space.
Ensuring that the Existing Systems Always Deliver
These days, almost every platform in the cloud space, whether it is the big names like Cisco or Avaya or Microsoft, are providing some usage metric. Which means that for hosted providers, like in our organization and managed services or enterprises that choose to do this on their own, there are tools available to analyze what the adoption might be like. That is a significant change in the past five years, and then there indeed is space for good-old fashion dialogue. Collaboration applications are becoming ever more sophisticated, and that is a trend that has been happening for years, we have gotten to the point where the user’s ability to adopt them is limited. So, if we do not go back after people have had the opportunity to absorb the application and understand how it impacts their work life and their work process, we are probably not doing a good job. Together with the metric-driven data that we gather from the system, their feedback can drive adoption, and content customer differentiation, which we think contributes towards productivity gains. The differentiation is organizations or enterprises using these tools to differentiate themselves, whether that is a university that is using advanced contact center experience in their admissions department or a mortgage company that is using advanced analytics to reach out to clients or how they pass leads in ways that are far more sophisticated.
Advice for Aspiring Peers
People entering into this space should focus on having a fundamental, foundational set of technical skills. A well-rounded skill set has always been important, but more so, now. Get an understanding of vertical knowledge, get experience in the vertical you want to align yourself to, be it healthcare of finance. It is equally important to have a foundational background, these days it is around having an understanding of APIs and development. That does not mean people have to venture out of their space to become developers. Have an understanding of the development so that ‘You’ know what the APIs are capable of, which will be an essential skill set going forward.