According to Cavell Group, in 2018, the cloud communications sector added over 2 million new users in Europe alone. While an impressive-sounding figure, this growth is much slower than cloud computing penetration. To tackle this challenge and share industry initiatives, Cavell Group organised its Cloud Comms Summit in London on 7 March.
For Matthew Townend, Director of Research and Consulting at Cavell Group, the sector isn’t innovating fast enough to meet the shifts in workplace and customer requirements. Vendors must invest in mobility, Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS), cloud networking, and customer contact, as well as redefine their marketing approaches — including their go-to-market strategies — to improve their performance and catch up with the current digital transformation.
Beyond product innovation, companies must also embrace new thinking around their service and customer experience. For example, panellists from service providers such as Soluno BC, Gradwell Communications and Aircall exchanged their ideas like product bundling strategies, new partnerships, flexible subscription options, and new delivery platforms to offer an improved customer experience and differentiate themselves between competitors as they adopt me-too products. As Craig Decker, Managing Director at Cisco noted: “Innovation in the early 2010s was focused on network integration. In the past four years, it’s all about the customer. How do we make the life of the customer easier?”
For Rami Houbby, VP for Cloud Sales at Mitel, digital transformation must also address the challenges of the desk-free workplace, which accounts for 80% of the global workforce across various sectors, including retail, agriculture, and transport. In the Unified Communications as a Service market, providers must continuously innovate to facilitate workplace collaboration and communication — such as virtual workspaces, content sharing and messaging synchronisation across devices — to meet the need of the 94% of workers who feel most productive outside of meetings.
With providers ready to develop their innovations, they must consider the associated regulations. Access Partnership’s Chief BD Officer Matthew McDermott presented the European regulatory update affecting the telecoms sector. Before introducing their products and services, industry actors must be familiar with the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) Regulation, and the ePrivacy Regulation.
First, the EECC (adopted in December 2018) provides a regulatory framework for disruptors who were previously excluded from such a regime. For example, under the EECC, over-the-top providers (OTTs) must comply with some of the regulatory obligations imposed on traditional telecoms service providers, such as ensuring their services are secure. However, most regulatory requirements will depend on the services of each provider and the approach taken by national authorities which individually implement the EECC. As such, cloud comms providers and disruptors must bear with regulatory uncertainty, in addition to navigating between diverging national laws.
In the same month, the EU established BEREC which is responsible for the internal market for electronic communication and recently capped the cost of intra-EU calling and messaging to €0.19/min and €0.06/message to ensure that calls placed in the home country are not more expensive than in the EU. Finally, the ePrivacy Regulation, which attempts to align telecoms privacy rules with the GDPR, has created a lot of confusion within the industry. For example, it is still unclear whether any app providing messaging or voice is considered telco. Due to the complexity of the file and political logjam, the regulation is unlikely to pass before the European Parliament elections this spring. Asked on the impact of Brexit on telecoms, McDermott noted that it will be business as usual for privacy and electronic communications, but it will be a challenge to secure cross-border data flows with the EU and third countries.
Over the course of the day, we saw innovators and disruptors discuss the limitless capacities of technology in improving cloud communications. The most cutting-edge idea came from John Straw who laid his vision for Enterprise 5.0, which he described as DAO (Distributed Autonomous Organisation), or in other words staff-less organisation. The DAO will use AI and billions of data points to make autonomous decisions, speak with customers through chatbots, and leverage Internet of Things to monitor communications in real time and potentially communicate and do business with other DAOs. Although current technology hasn’t quite reached this level of sophistication yet, it is only a matter of time.
Author: Ivan Ivanov, Marketing Manager, Access Partnership