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Cloud Communications: Look Before You Leap


Cloud communications
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There seems to be general agreement that the pandemic-driven move to remote work has accelerated the trend of enterprises moving their communications and contact center infrastructure to the cloud. But when you drill down on this trend you see many reasons for communications/collaboration decision-makers to proceed with caution.
I’ve been reviewing presentations for our upcoming Enterprise Connect Digital Conference & Expo, and several focus on the cloud migration. Each one offers some pointed details supporting the idea that, while you may have to move to the cloud sooner than you’d planned, you can’t cut corners on developing your strategy.
In her presentation, "UCaaS Report: Leading the Way Forward," Diane Myers of the research firm Omdia offers a statistic that shows the nature of the transition: Omdia data shows that, while premises systems are now a minority, making up just a third of the market, the biggest share to date — 43% — is owned by private cloud. UCaaS — the public-cloud model we tend to think of as the essence of cloud communications, represents just 24%.
Still, UCaaS is seeing tremendous growth, and furthermore, the definition of “UCaaS” is expanding. Diane includes Microsoft (for Teams), Cisco (for Webex), and Zoom as UCaaS companies to watch; at the same time, the formerly pure-play UCaaS providers like RingCentral, 8x8, and Vonage have filled out their service offerings to include contact center, videoconferencing, APIs, and just about any other communications function you can deliver over the cloud.
So if your enterprise is preparing to migrate toward a public cloud platform, you’ll want to check out the Digital Conference & Expo session on "Cloud Contracts: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly," presented by consultant Steve Leaden of Leaden Associates; and "Reconsidering Your Cloud Strategy in the Wake of Pandemic," with Melissa Swartz of Swartz Consulting.
I won’t steal too much of Steve’s or Melissa’s thunder, but in keeping with the themes of moving cautiously (even if you have to move quickly), Steve starts with a basic reminder about contracts: If you sign a three- to five-year contract with a provider, that’s the company you’ll be riding with for the next three to five years, which seems like an eternity these days. It may or may not be right for your enterprise to seek shorter-term deals, but in a time when technology is progressing fast — and how your end users engage with it is also constantly shifting — you need to be confident that the partner you choose can be as flexible and innovative as your enterprise needs it to be.
Melissa’s presentation is super-helpful in breaking down those elements of technology demand, progress, and innovation that you’re dealing with from your end users on the one side, and the providers on the other. She does a terrific job laying out the elements that likely went into near-term moves to the cloud that aimed to address the suddenness of the work from home onset, and how those elements give way to longer-term decision factors as you plan a strategy for the next stage of your enterprise communications.
Our Digital Conference & Expo is going to be full of great presentations like these, on subjects ranging from cloud to video to contact centers, collaboration platforms — the full gamut. It’s going to be the usual wealth of information that we offer in person at our Orlando event — except online and free, the week of August 3. If you don’t have time to take it all in, real-time, you can watch replays at your convenience. The environment also has an AI-driven networking function that’ll help you meet colleagues from other enterprises, and find industry vendors whose solutions you can explore. I hope you’ll sign up and join us!