Navigating your journey to the cloud for collaboration

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly accelerated change in enterprises, as they rushed to support knowledge workers at home, generating what Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella called “two years of digital transformation in two months.”

Rapid digital transformation at historic scale

Almost overnight, enterprises worldwide equipped workers with collaboration tools to work at home. Today, MIT says nearly half of workers are working from home. As a result, Gartner predicts the global web conferencing market to grow 24% in 2020, arguing that by 2024, in-person meetings will account for just 25% of enterprise meetings, down from 60% pre-pandemic.

We’ve seen a dramatic spike in the adoption of cloud collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx and Zoom, use of which “accelerated by almost five years in early 2020,” said Wayne Kurtzman, IDC Research Director for Social, Communities and Collaboration. “We are not going back to the old way of working.”

As the shock of the new fades, enterprises must take stock of what they’ve learned and consider which digital tools will help them handle more complex business needs. The normalization of remote collaboration requires more than just changing the books on the shelf for a Zoom meeting. Business needs must be identified, delivery strategized, and businesses must learn how to manage what will likely become hybrid multicloud environments, while also bringing these in within budget and on schedule.

Take contact centers as an example of these new complexities. Now, contact center staff are working from home, surely it makes sense to adopt contact center as a service (CCaaS), but should it be self-hosted, in the cloud or via multiple clouds? Which services match the regulatory environment? And how to handle operatives on different carriers? There is no one-size-fits-all approach, which means deployment decisions will differ between companies.

These two Orange Business Services customer case studies help show how different companies can adopt different sets of solutions to these challenges.

Customer story 1: Flowserve

U.S. engineering multinational Flowserve has over 15,000 employees. For collaboration, it relied on a legacy Cisco private cloud environment with legacy PBX and multiple ISDN service providers at some locations. However, the company was no longer able to add features or scale its existing solution, which it needed to do in order to respond to changing business needs.

Flowserve chose an Orange Cisco-based private cloud solution along with our global SIP service and chose to deploy its new solution with a soft client strategy. This meant that when the pandemic happened, the company could send all its knowledge workers home on the Friday and by Monday, they were successfully working from home. This is a great example of a private cloud solution built in partnership with an external service provider.

Customer story 2: European brewer

This European brewer has 165 locations in over 70 countries and 73,000+ employees. It was searching for a solution for collaboration and telephony that would support rapid global growth through acquisition. The company already used Microsoft Skype for Business and some Cisco solutions. It wanted a solution to keep the company connected, reduce travel costs and enable global collaboration.

The brewer chose Microsoft Teams, migrating 72,000 users from Skype. It also chose our self-care portal for provisioning and management, which gives the company the flexibility to handle staffing needs. We managed integration of external service providers within the global solution we provided, given that some of the chosen services were unavailable in all the countries in which it does business.

On-premise, hybrid or cloud?

That both case studies show use of cloud-based, rather than on-premise, systems reflects global purchasing patterns. An IDC study claims use of premise-based collaboration systems shrank from 65% to 45% between 2017 and 2020.

Why? In part because cloud-based solutions for collaboration and telephony are easier to scale, deploy and manage than on-premise solutions. Take the provisioning of a phone number: this process once took weeks working with a carrier, now it can be transacted in a few clicks on the Orange Business Services remote management interface, while costs are fixed and predictable.

Cloud service providers are also motivated to focus on quality of service, new feature development and integration into real-world business scenarios. In contrast, enterprises reliant on on-premise systems are encountering barriers around interoperability, new features and lack of multiplatform support.

The trend toward cloud services comes as budgeting decisions favor operational above infrastructure investments, particularly post pandemic. Predictably priced cloud-based systems are a natural choice in this environment.

What’s happening in the real world?

With workers at home, some enterprises are using the pandemic as an opportunity to consolidate their on-premise voice platforms to reduce costs while minimizing the impact of these transitions on workflow. They are exploring how to add soft clients to existing telephony deployments to better provision remote workers with universal telephone numbers.

When it comes to telephony, customers are choosing both public and private cloud. Telephony is not as simple as conferencing. When choosing these solutions, staffing, support and integration must be considered. Migration can be extensive, and the chosen platform may not address all your needs, particularly in terms of regulation and international reach.

Most businesses use public cloud for conferencing (including video), though larger entities (particularly regulated multinationals grappling with divergent regulatory environments) still prefer private cloud solutions. Large international businesses also face the challenge that some services (such as Microsoft Teams) may not be supported in every country in which they do business, prompting adoption of a multicloud approach. That’s just one of the communication modalities in which multicloud solutions make sense. For example, one of our customers uses Zoom for videoconferencing, but Teams for IM presence and chat. It also has an on-premises Cisco system.

Adding an additional layer of complexity, most enterprises now support BYOD and employee device choice, which also means solutions need to support multiple platforms. Summing up, the work-from-home environment is multi-platform, multi-cloud services and inherently agile.

For more information watch our webinar, Navigating your journey to the cloud for collaboration, which covers this topic in depth.

Lenny Krol
Lenny Krol

Lenny has been in the collaboration space for over 20 years and heads up the Enriched Interactions and Collaboration business for the Americas at Orange Business Services. His main focus is solving customer business challenges with innovative Orange collaboration and contact center solutions. In his spare time, Lenny enjoys outdoor activities such as backpacking, biking, skiing and spending time with his family.