Russell Harpham, Director of EMEA at Revolabs, authored an article on Compare the Cloud
on how the cloud technologies have enhanced how businesses communicate. Article below:
Over the last ten years, corporations and companies both big and small have spent big money – and I mean really big money – on state of the art communications and video conferencing systems in a bid to try to connect their increasingly multi-site or globalised workforces.
Step forward to 2017, and we’re seeing remote working and conferencing becoming increasingly commonplace, and businesses open their eyes to the possibilities of a “new normal” for connecting people, powered by the cloud.
We’re also seeing company c-suites – CEOs, CFOs, CIOs and Telecoms leaders – wising up to the rapid evolution in cloud technology which is enabling businesses of all shape and sizes – including many of our own clients – to rethink and reshape their communications and conferencing.
Revolabs – and our parent company Yamaha – believe the cloud has the capability to revolutionise the multi-billion-dollar global conferencing industry. We believe it, because we’re seeing first-hand the benefits and capabilities technology has to transform the way businesses connect, streamline costs and connect and engage people.
The “new normal”
For many, cloud conferencing is becoming business as usual.
Big businesses – supported by healthy budgets – can invest in the technology right now, so for many, they’re already reaping the benefits of cloud conferencing.
But, we believe the benefits for all businesses – and to UK plc – could be immense, and we’re aiming to encourage people, including business owners, CIOs, CEOs of big, medium and small companies – to understand the benefits to the bottom line and the productivity of their teams.
If you take me as an example. I look after Revolabs’ sales and operations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) on behalf of our parent company Yamaha. And I live in Cheshire in the North West of England. For the first time, last year I made the jump to the cloud.
Believe me, EMEA is a big patch to cover! But instead of being like George Clooney’s character in the film Up in the Air (although I could do with the air miles!) I can connect to clients across the world using our cloud conferencing products and systems from my home office, a local coffee shop, a huddle space, or even on the 7:56 am from Milton Keynes….OK, so the last one might be a bit pushing it a bit!
All the functions of my job can be delivered through the cloud. My CRM can be accessed via my browser or Android app, as can my email, networking app, data storage, company analytics.
Having access to all this data to hand means my meetings are as productive as they can be. I use a cloud-based video conferencing systems which require no special hardware and can be accessed by anyone even if they don’t have regular access to the service themselves.
The point is I’m using cloud technology to get business done. I achieve sales to support our parent company Yamaha’s efforts to increase their cloud conferencing market share in the EMEA region. I can engage and support my teams. And I can see my clients smile.
Think back just three or four years ago and meetings were pretty much the same experience for us all.
They always followed a standard format. Face-to-face being the preferred option…..that’s if you could find a meeting room in the first place!
There was usually a lot of people (many having travelled to be there) and almost everyone would have that slightly uncomfortable feeling that they could have been doing something more productive. And that’s because they all know they could have been.
The conference call used to be the second best option. It involved either audio only over the mobile or desk phone, or it was dialling into the dedicated videoconferencing room. This room had dedicated hardware to facilitate the call and unfortunately was not accessible to everyone.
The availability or lack thereof meant that conferencing didn’t become the habitual part of working life that business leaders wanted to see, which is a shame as for may they had invested a significant amount of money in the system as part of time efficiency drives, financial savings programmes or carbon footprint reduction programmes.
The cloud, the ever-advancing technology, the simplicity of the operation and the growth in a more “opex” based (i.e. usage-based or ‘pay and your grow’) technology have all combined to make a fundamental shift modern day meetings.
And, as a result, this space has changed forever.
Living in the Cloud
I live and breathe conferencing – in particular cloud conferencing – but I’ll break this down simply.
The cloud has changed the landscape completely. Only recently Gartner claimed that the cloud is evolving every single area of a company’s IT infrastructure. That’s any company. Any shape, any size.
Why? Because cloud technology is allowing users to drive how they access information and business services.
It is enabling companies to start looking at more efficient financial models as they examine less capital-intensive infrastructures.
It means we have permanent access to data when we need it.
We now have the capabilities to run high definition video conferencing calls using nothing more advanced than a laptop or smartphone.
We have made accessibility much smarter and simpler. Today, participants can join a meeting that is hosted online, but they can also share content with all the participants and, depending on which service they use, they can also invite people to dial in from traditional telephone numbers. The flexibility is staggering. And it is evolving to shape the market it serves.
Over the last 18 months, we have seen significant growth in the conferencing market, largely enabled by the popularity of cloud conferencing technology from the likes of Zoom, BlueJeans, Citrix and Skype4Business.
It has been reported that by 2020 the revenue generated by manufacturers of conferencing technology will exceed $6.4billion. That’s the GDP of a small nation. But it shows the scale of the opportunity and also the demand.
We’re seeing an evolution not a revolution in the cloud conferencing market.
We’re working with many enterprises – big and small – who are evaluating the necessity of having all singing, all dancing meeting rooms. Instead they are seeking to use their investment to enable a much greater number of smaller “huddle” style meeting rooms that have a basic – but still highly-technical and smart – screens, cameras and sound peripherals. These rooms can accommodate a PC or the NUC running the latest cloud conferencing application.
Importantly, the outcomes are achieving engagement objectives. The clients we’re working with are enabling us to strengthen the theory that greater accessibility enables greater adoption too.
By bringing your device (BYOD), organised video conferences are enabling people to increasingly break free of the restrictions and limitations of meeting rooms, face-to-face and teleconferencing. Instead, cloud conferencing is enabling companies to introduce more visually and psychologically stimulating spaces in which to meet. Bean bags, sofas, coffee shops, adapted VW Campervans are all becoming meeting spaces.
And cloud conferencing and data services are very much at the heart of making this evolution possible.
This cloud thing making the world a smaller place. It’s bringing economical proprietary to more and more regions of the world, and that has got to be a good thing.
One thing’s for sure I’ll never think about clouds hanging over me as a bad thing again.