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8x8 Opens the Floor for Communications

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Image: Julien Eichinger -
By 2022, 50% of organizations will determine that their existing unified communications technology is insufficient to meet existing customer experience requirements, according to Mark Smith, CEO of Ventana Research.
“There is a new level of expectations that we must meet because simplicity is everything, and simplicity of how we operate both internally, but also with our customers, is critical,” said Smith, speaking earlier this week at 8x8’s “Open the Possibilities” virtual event. In a session titled, “Elements of Open Communication,” he shared his thoughts on technology requirements for new era of open communications, and more.
Challenges with Today’s Communication Technology
During a session titled, “Elements of Open Communication,” Smith identified three fundamental areas enterprises need to address for communications today: confusion on technology strategy and choices, security gaps in technology, and why communication tools aren’t open or unified. Naturally, everyone wants to chit chat and collaborate. The problem is, this often means a proliferation of communications and collaboration tools that don’t interoperate with each other or integrate well into other applications or systems. Productivity decreases when users have to jump from one tool to the next, Smith said.
In addition, use of a wide array of technologies can lead to security gaps, Smith added. It’s incumbent on enterprises to follow best security practices for their communications and collaboration applications. These include using single sign-on and multifactor authentication, and encrypting the data inside and outside the organization, he said. On that latter point, he elaborated: “We have to do everything we can to mitigate the risk of losing information … there could be potential areas where networks are being tapped or monitored, and we need to make sure that our information is secure.”
When it comes to traditional UCaaS platforms, traditional platforms typically don’t integrate with other systems, such as the contact center system, let alone have a unified security model, Smith said. To achieve a modern communication platform vision, organizations must move away from proprietary connectors and embrace open APIs so that developers can create integrations between applications as needed. “The communication experience should be consistent for everyone in the organization, and the tools should interoperate securely across applications used by the individual business units,” he said.
New Era, Requirements, Next Steps
The modern generation of communications requirements brings a challenge to splintered approaches that don’t make it easy for users to connect and collaborate across the business and into the customer service operation. Quality of experience matters, both for employees and contact center agents, Smith said.
In his presentation, Smith provided guidance for selecting a modern communications platform, as follows:
  • Ensure messaging and video operate on a single platform
  • Look for the ability to audit communications and adapt security accordingly
  • Examine the adaptability, reliability, and manageability of your platform of choice
  • Guarantee that the security of access and communications on the platform meets your requirements
  • Determine commitment to open communications and availability of APIs for embedding communications into other applications
  • Support enterprise and contact center requirements as well as authentication levels administratively
To make your communications and collaboration strategy successful, be sure to incorporate principles of modern and open communications, assess weaknesses in your current technology, evaluate user experiences, and ensure vendor commitment to your customer experience success, Smith said. Enterprises must think beyond their current portfolio and evaluate platforms that support a unified approach to communications and collaboration.
8x8 on Open Communications
8x8 used the backdrop of its Open the Possibilities event to launch its Open Communications Platform, which brings together voice, team collaboration, meetings, and contact center solutions and provides AI-fueled functionality such for routing and predictive analytics. Additionally, 8x8 introduced programmable APIs for SMS and video, and announced availability of an enterprise voice service for Microsoft Teams, expanded AI-assisted self-service capabilities, and a new performance monitoring offering.
For the Teams voice service, 8x8 offers full PSTN support in 38 countries, unlimited calling plans to up to 47 countries, and direct-inward-dial and toll-free numbers in more than 120 countries; out-of-the-box integration with third-party business applications such as Salesforce, Zendesk, NetSuite, and Microsoft Dynamics 365; and native contact center support. In addition, the solution includes speech analytics and quality management across PSTN calls, the company said.
8x8’s latest offering is generally available in the U.S. and U.K.