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Collaboration, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work – UC Expo 2017 May 24, 2017

Posted by Dominic Black in Uncategorized.
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UC Expo in London last week was the perfect opportunity to catch up on the latest industry news and trends, meet existing and new customers and experience new products and technologies. Kicking off with a keynote talk from Red Bull on how their Formula 1 racing team uses collaboration tools to maximise performance on the track, hot topics included the Future of Work (encompassing discussions on work/life balance and the role of Artificial Intelligence) and the increasing importance of collaboration technologies such as Cisco Spark.

Using contact centres as an example, Noam Fine of i.am+ discussed the applications of AI in improving efficiency, agent turnover and increasing customer satisfaction. Within 3 years 85% of interactions between customer and company will be without human contact; replacing auto-attendants with AI that can answer questions using contextual information from the current call or background knowledge (location, purchasing history etc.) provides both a smoother customer experience and more fulfilling working environment, as agents are assigned based on experience and subject matter knowledge. On a more disconcerting note Ben Hammersley, Applied Futurist, explored the ‘AI Apocalypse’ and how AI threatens to disrupt the current workspace by computerising aspects of high paying knowledge-jobs, such as contract proofing in the legal profession. Nonetheless, he did provoke some thought about the benefits a business orientated Amazon Alexa could bring to the office environment. This was particularly interesting as Andrew Maher (Avaya) had earlier mentioned his belief that contextually powered AI solutions would be key throughout 2017/18.

Collaboration technology was also discussed frequently over the two day event. Using figures from KMPG, Snorre Kjesbu (Cisco) argued that 82% of CEOs do not know whether their products would still be relevant in 3 years’ time. The speed and innovation required to stay abreast of the rapid changes faced today was demonstrated by Cisco Spark and its accompany Board, which allows for wireless presenting, white boarding and of course video/audio conferencing. A panel discussion featuring speakers from 8×8, GCI, AT&T and Mitel covered UC Cloud Communications, discussing for example how long customers should commit to cloud for (answers ranged from 36-60 months) and the bundling of desk phones. How this affects continuously falling UC pricing will be interesting as providers seek to offer better service between soft- and hardware and offer financing options for equipment.

We greatly enjoyed the expo and are looking forward to seeing what next year’s topics will cover. In the meantime, our biannual research period has just launched, meaning we will be meeting Service Providers across the UK and Europe gathering information for our upcoming European market reports. If you wish to purchase last year’s reports or find out more about the topics covered in this post, please contact dominic.black@cavellgroup.com or francisca.dinga@cavellgroup.com.

Genband Nuvia launch latest demonstration of a fundamental change in the industry from a “Supply” to Adoption paradigm April 16, 2015

Posted by Matthew Townend in Uncategorized.
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On March 17th we saw Genband launch their Nuvia Cloud service in the UK to be distributed by their long-term partner IHUB. The Nuvia service is based on an OPEX pay-as-you-go model, which is sold on a per user basis, rather than Service Providers having to invest in their own large platform. Cavell were able to have a sneak preview of the service and were impressed by the proposition, readers can see more at http://www.nuviacloud.com.

Genband have done a lot of work on the portals and the ‘look & feel’ of their services which used to be their major weakness a few years ago and the results of this are clear in this latest announcement. This release follows on from their launch in the US around a year ago and indicates Genband’s ambition to offer this as a Global service to help address multinational end customers who require a global homogenised service.

Genband’s Nuvia Cloud Service is the latest in a series of launches of pay-as-you-go platforms from the likes of Broadsoft, Mitel and other Softswitch providers and traditional IP-PBX manufacturers. These launches signify a major change in the supply chain of the industry from a “supply” to an Adoption paradigm. It also signifies a change in where the risk and reward is born within the supply chain and a change in focus onto end customer & end-user Adoption.

In the old Enterprise voice world, the supply chain was relatively simple. There was a traditional PBX Channel/Distribution model where the focus was on getting a large upfront fee for equipment from the customer and a smaller ongoing maintenance. The Channel and Manufacturers focused on efficient distribution of equipment, which saw large warehouses popping up and sales teams incentivized by acquiring new customers and making large one-off equipment sales. The manufacturers supported the equipment and there was a clear demarcation between them and the communications infrastructure.

In the initial wave of Hosted VoIP, providers either built their own platforms or purchased a platform from the likes of Broadsoft, Cisco or Genband often for a fee well over £500k. In simple terms, the providers took most of the risk as they purchased or built their own platforms, whilst also managing their own communications infrastructure and driving sales independently. The model from the manufacturers point of view was still based on supply, where the focus was on receiving a large upfront fee. The Service Provider and indirect channel models were starting to change, as they had to become very much focused on the adoption of their services as they were being paid on a per user basis. Service Providers also struggled to convince the channel to adopt this new risk sharing adoption method, as the channel was still being enticed by PBX providers offering large upfront payments.

The recent announcements are now seeing the whole supply channel becoming focused on the Adoption of services on a per-user basis. Manufacturers/Service Providers and indirect channels are now all reliant on users coming onto the platforms and staying on the platforms and consuming new services.

This is forcing players in the supply chain to make fundamental changes to the way they operate and consider carefully their role in the future. Throughout the supply chain, sales teams of all organizations have to undertake a fundamental transformation to an “Adoption” and solutions sales approach. This includes the manufacturers who sales teams now need to focus not just on selling the platform but driving ongoing adoption and usage by the end customer. It’s not ok to just be a “Hunter” you have to be a “Farmer” as well.

‘Who are going to be the Service Providers of the future?’ and ‘What is going to be their role?’ is also an open question. In some ways we have the likes of Broadsoft, Genband & Mitel becoming services providers but also some of the traditional providers are reconsidering their current model of operation and starting to sell their platforms on a Wholesale basis to compete, whilst others focus more on the go-to-market elements and may ditch owning a platform and purchase the platform on an OPEX model from a third party. Some people still appear to be struggling with this fundamental change, with some PBX providers are trying to build complex pricing and go-to-market models which were a kin to the old paradigm and overlay them on the new world, not appearing to understand their new role in the market.

Clearly there is going to continue to be a mix of approaches, some providers who have established platforms are going to continue with their existing model where they take the risk and reward, and in other circumstances we are going to see new and existing channels move to the new model. Already we have seen companies like BT utilize the consume model as a stepping-stone to delivering their own solution. We see players like RingCentral & NFON who developed their own platform now both sell direct but also enable large providers such as AT&T, O2 Germany and BT.

Cavell believes that the whole supply chain is now becoming more focused on the adoption of services, by not only the Enterprise but also the actual end user. It is no longer viable to supply the platform and move onto a new customer. From a Go-to-Market approach, there needs to be more of a focus on Sales Enablement helping partners, channels and direct sales teams bring users onto their platform and keep them there rather than just selling large platform. This will require manufacturers to undergo a Sale Transformation of their own sales teams put in place new programs to support partners.

The traditional PBX distributors have been scratching their heads for a while, although with Hosted VoIP there is still equipment (such as phones) that needs distributing. On the other hand we see a group of technology enablers who both distribute technology but also enable and manager service for their customers with the likes of Siphon Networks. The issue of adoption is not limited to UC we are seeing that as providers driver services to the cloud the requirement is covering multiple services.

Cavell is seeing the above translate both into real challenges but also opportunities; we are already helping services providers and manufacturers with sales enablement and transformation programs. We are working with players in all elements of the supply chain on what their role and strategy in the future.

If you want to discuss the above further, and find out how we could help your organization with the challenges drop us an email matthew.townend@cavellgroup.com

Mitel – Strategy Discussion June 22, 2011

Posted by Matthew Townend in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday i had the pleasure of meeting Mitels Graham Bevington who now heads up international markets for Mitel. Graham was giving me an update on their strategy particularly on their hosted capability.
I was really impressed a couple of years ago when Mitel were the first traditional PBX manufacturer to realise that they were going to be in the software business, and they would not be making all their money from selling proprietary hardware in the future.
Graham highlighted that they had been gaining traction for their Multinstance MICD & VMware hosted offerings amongst both carriers and IT & voices solution providers. These solutions enable enterprise to have their own instance of a software based pbx managed either within a VMware environment or within a Mitels MICD environment. These services are particularly attractive to medium and large enterprises who want the ability to integrate applications with their own instances, rather than multi-tenanted environments which will not allow this level of per customer customisation.
Also in a wider discussion about the industry it was interesting to discuss the future of distribution when we move into more of an online world. As was widely reported Mitel pulled out of traditional distribution a few years ago. However in the future they may indeed be engaging with “Network” based distributor’s, these companies like Gamma would provide the hosting and carrier environment which reseller could then host customers virtual instances in. So where traditional distributor’s capabilities were based around logistics and channel management, the logistics in the future will be around hosting and carrier capability. So maybe we will see Niman’s purchase a data centre ?.
We also discussed that basic call control capability was now going to be offered on different server environments, and the real battle was going to be engaged around UC applications. All in all an interesting chat and I think if Mitel can execute they certainly will be well set amongst their peers.