Communications solutions continue to evolve as the demands of organizations change depending on their business, industry, and employee needs. As businesses become more dynamic with teams dispersed over various office locations (and even remote employees, too), they need to leverage advanced technology solutions that can improve communication and collaboration and facilitate the delivery of clear and concise information across all platforms.
In this article, Todd Carothers, the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at CounterPath, shares with Voip-info some insights on various trends in today's business communication space, explaining why cloud communications are beneficial for enterprises and how CounterPath's innovative cloud solutions and mobile VoIP software products can help businesses easily increase their productivity.
The Rise of Cloud-Based Communications Solutions
Today’s global workforce needs more than just a traditional phone system to facilitate better communication amongst partners, customers, and employees, especially those workers who are geographically dispersed.
“With the right communication solutions, remote employees do not miss a step by not being in the office," said Carothers. "With today’s advanced solutions, there are no missed ‘water cooler’ conversations or important meetings – everyone is just a video call away."
With businesses becoming more dynamic and customers becoming more demanding, it is crucial to equip office employees and mobile workers with cutting-edge tools that allow them to communicate and collaborate in a seamless and more efficient way. And both Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and cloud-based communication solutions are the answers to help businesses power their employees through innovative, new-age technologies.
According to Carothers, “The cloud has accelerated and expanded communication options for users while keeping costs competitive. Another significant benefit is that customers can now try various service offerings without financial or IT overhead risks. For example, many services are offering ‘try before you buy’ or monthly commitment options that reduce the ‘locking in’ risks that other non-cloud solutions inherently face.”
Cloud communications provide a plethora of business benefits such as cost savings, mobility, reliability, and access to a broader set of features. Additionally, the cloud allows integrations that help businesses simplify data management. “We are also seeing multiple cloud solutions starting to work together to provide cooperative E2E solutions – such as the Bria hosted solution working with Salesforce,” shared Carothers. “Or, Zapier enabling triggers between Gmail and Dropbox to automatically save attachments. These examples illustrate how end users can have a customized experience based on their requirements and the specific cloud solutions they use.”
The Advent of Big Data and APIs
Big Data and application programming interfaces (APIs) can enable organizations to enhance their business productivity and create more effective workflows through customization. According to Carothers, Big Data has a huge impact in enterprise decision making. “Data drives business decisions,” said Carothers. “As the Big Data industry grows and forges real-time data that businesses can consume, organizations will be able to develop alternative processes that can change on the fly to increase productivity.”
Through Big Data, organizations can gather crucial information from a variety of sources and then easily analyze it in order to gain business insights. And like Big Data, APIs also make it easy for organizations and end users to create their own unique solutions based on their needs. APIs can do this by “enabling the ‘mashing up’ of various on-premise and cloud solutions to meet specific, unique requirements." This ultimately helps drive up productivity and, in many cases, reduce costs. Carothers cites Zapier as an example. “As mentioned earlier, Zapier does this across various solutions and can be implemented in a very easy way by creating process scripts via an easy to learn interface – no programming required," explained Carothers. “By leveraging APIs, any cross-functional team member can develop unique solutions to enhance their workflows.”
Factors to Keep In Mind When Choosing the Ideal UC Solutions
Switching from a traditional public branch exchange (PBX) system to a more advanced cloud-based unified communications (UC) solutions can be challenging for some businesses. Organizations need to consider important factors to make the transition as smooth, seamless, and painless as possible. Carothers shared the following elements that consumers need to keep in mind to help them choose the right VoIP and/or UC solution:
- Consumers should make sure to obtain a platform or solution that is open;
- The solution should work with other devices, endpoints, and network core gear;
- Voice, messaging, video, and presence are table stakes; and
- All the features and capabilities need to work together to forge the best user experience possible.
“As the workforce becomes more and more remote, on-the-go, and distributed, collaboration is quickly becoming more critical,” revealed Carothers. “Legacy vendors are trying to leverage collaboration in a way that vertically integrates with their own solution, blocking others. This will ultimately limit innovation and restrict use cases for customers going forward. To enable the broadest range of solutions, open systems with API-driven platforms are key. “
How CounterPath Enhances Business Communications
Leading VoIP service provider CounterPath aims to help businesses and their customer base improve their communication solutions. CounterPath believes that “every type of user is a customer. So, the user and customer experience are equally important.”
“CounterPath offers one of the most feature-rich solutions on the market," Carothers shared. "In fact, we have led the softphone market for over a decade. However, we do not just focus on features and related benefits. Rather, we focus on the softphone user experience. We believe that the user experience matters much more than features. There is nothing more critical than how an end user interacts with our software and, more importantly, the resultant impact our solution has. We are the face of communications. If the user experience is not additive, then nothing else really matters.”
As a trusted provider of over-the-top (OTT) UC and mobile VoIP solutions, CounterPath works to accommodate mobile and remote employees. “CounterPath is a ‘mobile first’ company,” explained Carothers. “We think about the mobile user experience first and then everything else comes after. This is because the mobile user experience in our industry is the most difficult thing to get correct. It means bending reality a bit.”
“What I mean by this is, the mobile environment is ever-changing and extremely elastic,” he explained. “For a multimedia softphone solution like ours to work well, it needs to deal with a number of real-time issues that are constantly changing such as network connectivity, the quality of the network connection or switching between different wireless technologies (such as between mobile data and Wi-Fi, to name a few). CounterPath is the only softphone-led solution I know of that has this mindset and it results in a fantastic mobile user experience.”
CounterPath’s products work on any device. Because of this, mobile employees can easily participate in any meeting no matter where they are located. This increases productivity and ultimately reduces costs – both economic and opportunity. “Using Bria-X, businesses can instantly migrate their tethered teams to desktop/mobile UC users and move from just providing a mobile voice to supplying mobile, video, messaging, presence, and collaboration – all over the same call server,” added Carothers.
Where the Future of Business Communications Is Headed
Today is an interesting time for business communication and collaboration. According to Carothers, “As voice has matured, VoIP is commonplace for next generation systems and solutions. Video use is growing and messaging is becoming more and more important to businesses. The rapid growth of the mobile Internet has spawned a number of different offerings for business customers, creating a fragmented landscape of various solutions – most of which don’t play well with one another.”
Carothers also believes that any “trends” in business communications are just short-term movements, which may become obsolete in the coming years. “Over the next five years, there will be a lot of market consolidation, from companies being acquired to solutions working together via APIs,” he said. “What is commonplace today will be gone in five years, as younger users push the boundaries of UC requirements to the point of being able to communicate with others regardless of device, call server platform, or network they are using.”
In order for vendors in the cloud and unified communication (UC) space to survive and thrive going forward, Carothers said that these businesses need to “consider the mobile user experience first, be agnostic to other offerings, and be customizable so they can meet ever-changing business requirements.”
CounterPath is a leading provider of over-the-top (OTT) UC, SIP-based softphones, server applications, and mobile VoIP solution. Established in 2002, the company designs, develops, and supplies cutting-edge UC, cloud, and VoIP products that aim to change the face of telecommunications. CounterPath specializes in the operator, enterprise, and channel markets and delivers a comprehensive suite of business communication solutions for leading telecommunications providers such as Avaya, AT&T, NEC, BroadSoft, Verizon, and more.