As technology levels the playing field across most industries, the success of businesses rely even more on improving interactions between employees, people and the data they work with. By better using collaboration tools and applications, organizations can streamline their business processes, enhance productivity and increase agility to gain a competitive advantage.
Frank Ciccone, Vice President & Executive Managing Director at Verizon, talks about the benefits and challenges of UCaaS along with their go-to-market strategy and future plans in India, in a chat with ChannelWorld India.
How do you see the Indian market with respect to UC and collaboration as a service?
According to a recent International Data Corporation (IDC) study, Indian Unified Communications and Collaboration market in H2 2014 was nearly flat, 0.1 percent, as compared to its previous year. However, the market showed a decent growth of 6.3 percent over H1 2014.
Government initiatives and increasing adoption of UC platform by enterprises is pushing the need for smart network solutions that can sustain the growth of unstructured network traffic. Upcoming verticals like e-commerce, healthcare and hospitality along with traditional ones are expected to drive future investments.
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is also expected to gain traction as an unwavering access to the technology with relatively low CAPEX and OPEX — as compared to traditional solutions — would find interest from the market.
What are the emerging trends and technologies driving unified communications and collaboration as a service?
Many of our clients have transformed their workplaces and expanded into new markets to accelerate growth and optimize performance. In today’s digital and global economy, it’s essential that mobile and remote employees communicate and collaborate virtually with colleagues, clients and partners as if they were in the same room together.
We’ve seen strong adoption of our existing UCCaaS offering particularly from manufacturers, financial and professional services firms, retailers, and the public sector — which is a trend we anticipate will continue as we expand our offering globally.
The market requirements for cloud-based unified communications have changed greatly in recent years. Cloud UC is no longer just for the small business — today, large enterprises and multinational corporations are embracing the strategic value of cloud UC, and they require global reach, a broad array of collaboration functionality, and a strategic partner who can complement their own operational teams. Our expansion of its UC&C capabilities, paired with its worldwide support and professional services reach, makes us a compelling partner for enterprises to consider.
What is Verizon’s UCCaaS andhow is Verizon expanding globally in terms of UCCaaS?
Verizon Enterprise Solutions has expanded its Unified Communications & Collaboration as a Service solution and introduced new innovative capabilities, including collaboration with Cisco Meeting Rooms.
Some of our new capabilities include global expansion of UCCaaS to Europe and Asia Pacific including in-country support for major commercial hubs such as Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, UK, Taiwan, Germany, France and Netherlands. Along with this, we also provide in-region geographic redundancy of UCCaaS services via datacenters.
Second, we have joined forces with Cisco Collaboration Meeting Rooms Cloud, whichprovides simple, easy-to-use collaboration capabilities for intra-business, B2B and B2C applications from any standards-based video device. Our new offering allows attendees to collaborate using voice, video, content share, and white boarding, which can be integrated with Verizon UCCaaS or can be purchased as a stand-alone service. Attendees can join a collaboration room from virtually any video device — laptop, tablet, smartphone, desktop, video room system or tele-presence room system.
Third, our integrated global contact centersdeliver cloud-based contact center capabilities for improving customers’ experiences and can also be integrated with UCCaaS. This allow enterprises to serve their customers in a more powerful, flexible and cost-effective manner, with the ability to easily scale resources up or down based on their business needs.
Fourth, mobile integration, which allows customers to leverage our UCCaaS over wireless networks with no VPN connections required. Customers can also leverage our expansive 4G LTE network, or can use their local mobile broadband network.
Fifth, self-service management portals that allow customers to quickly and easily implement provisioning changes to their services, including service moves and additions, helping control management costs, increase business agility, and improve customer responsiveness.
How is Verizon's UCCaaS solutions helping enterprises and how does it stand out in the market?
Our UCCaaS provides an integrated platform which helps businesses associate work together efficiently, access information, thereby helping them to move their businesses forward. Since UCCaaS is based on cloud, it’s easily scalable and doesn’t require capital expenditures to get started or expand services.
With on-demand delivery, one can control costs and simplify management, without the hassle of cash-flow surprises, owning, managing, maintaining, and upgrading equipment and software. Because UCCaaS is built with layered security, multiple points of redundancy, and native integration with our network services, we can offer leading service level agreements (SLAs).
In addition to hosted environments, UCCaaS supports hybrid systems that help in easily extending or adding new capabilities to existing, on-premises applications—reducing the need to manage complex integrations or unfamiliar technologies and platforms.
Our UCCaaS also enhances customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning applications like Salesforce, SAP, Microsoft Outlook, and Google Apps with powerful capabilities, including single-click audio and video calls, instant messaging and presence, and embedded web, video, and audio conferencing.
What could be some of the challenges that are holding back the adoption of UCCaaS?
Today, vendors are challenged by the fact that they have to make enterprise communications more unified and intelligent. At the same time, they need to know how to deploy and manage globally accessible workspaces. Compliance too is an issue and vendors also have to overcome regulatory roadblocks. Providing secure, personalized access to corporate data is a must and vendors have to focus on this aspect while providing a UC solution.
Some of the challenges that are holding the adoption of UCCaaS back are the existence of critical concerns related to security, reliability and ease of maintenance; lack of standard equipment within enterprises; last mile connectivity, which remains a challenge; immature business processes; low awareness levels; high communication costs due to lack of UC usage; and regulatory challenges, which restrict effective use of UC &C technologies.
What is your go-to-market strategy for the coming year?
Our collaboration services are an extension of our global connectivity services. We support both direct and indirect sales channels with high touch of specialized resources. These resources include specialized sales resources and solution architects that can craft solutions to align with our clients’ business outcomes.
Additionally, professional services resources are able to provide services like discovery and assessment services to build a plan as well as develop customized on-boarding, deployment and adoption services such that deployment intervals are achieved and the user experience is maximized.
Our partner programs are tasked with taking core competencies from our enterprise solutions and joining these with the specialist skills and unique added value of our indirect channel partners to provide customers with complete solutions. Rather than relying on a large number of companies, we mainly focus on building successful collaborative working relationships with a small number of highly skilled partners, with their own areas of specialization.
What are your future plans for India?
Our focus, not only in India, but globally, is in supporting customer’s end-to-end. When we work with any of our customers to help them transition their infrastructure, applications or business process to cloud, we don’t limit our solutions offering only to a cloud asset. We take a holistic view and give them an overall solution, which will involve cloud, global connectivity through our network infrastructure, professional services around migration, security and compliance.
One of the areas, where we have taken a leadership position – is connecting to the other cloud leaders in the global arena like Amazon, Google, HP, Microsoft and the list is growing. On one side is our customers’ assets and on the other hand is all global assets of other cloud leaders, which are connected to our private IP infrastructure backbone—which spans in more than 150 countries and help disseminating data in a secured, global environment with a provisioning time of less than a week.