According to an article published by Deloitte, the traditional workspace is changing. “The communications behaviors, habits, and tools that people use in their personal lives are migrating into their work lives.” Text messaging, video calls, hashtags, groups and even the use of trending topics are spilling into the working world from our private lives. Workstream collaboration tools and UCC services are the irrigation system through which that spillage flows, and they have the difficult task of harnessing those subtly different ways of sharing for use in the working environment. But, even if the adoption of these tools is beginning to become more popular, can we really say that they are improving workplace productivity?
As a recent report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows, a gap between large companies and SMB is opening up. The former group, actively investing in digital solutions like broadband internet, big data, and cloud computing has taken off in the last ten years; while the latter remains static, almost oblivious to the changing conditions of the working landscape. The observable result is a growth in overall productivity, where those companies investing and benefitting are dragging the others along behind them.
Workstream collaboration is another example of a digital solution that is gaining traction among big companies. Businesses with remote plants and offices use it to reduce the time and money they spend travelling to and from monthly and even weekly meetings. Not only do travel expenses decrease considerably (a reduction of up to 50%, according to one source), but employees focus on their meetings rather than their travel schedules if they can rely on tools that allow them to share, collaborate and meet without physically being in the same place. And with email, calendar and messaging integration, they have everything they need.
Regardless of how businesses use digital solutions to their advantage, one thing is for sure: bigger companies are the ones currently benefiting most from workstream collaboration and unified communications and collaboration (UCC). SMBs and smaller companies are being left behind. According to different publications, a lack of IT decision makers and the fear of costly implementation scare them into inaction. CSPs should address the needs of this segment: SMBs comprise a large group looking to close the productivity gap in the coming two years. Easy-to-use, cloud solutions for unified communications and collaboration could be what they need to catch up with their bigger competitors.
And that productivity gap can be filled by CSPs offering cloud workstream collaboration and/or UCC solutions, customized for different vertical markets. Solutions such as these can be made to measure and tailored, enabling CSPs to optimize the efficiency and productivity of each SMB customer. They also allow CSPs to compete with OTT service providers.
Why Aren’t More CSPs Going After This Opportunity?
Among our customers, we’ve seen that many CSPs are reluctant to enter this market by reselling UCC from a major global vendor, e.g. Microsoft or Cisco. The business case is often challenging due to the licensing policies of these vendors. Moreover, with a standardized service from a global vendor, CSPs may find it difficult to differentiate from the competition and make the service sticky.
OTTs and global vendors generally realize UCC in their own cloud, instead of providing tailored services and products. They then ask CSPs to pay monthly subscription fees guaranteeing that they – not the CSP reselling the service to its business customers – get 90% or more of the revenues. If two or more competing CSPs partner with the same vendor, there can even be a price shakedown, making the business case even worse.
A standardized service from a global vendor is usually geared towards a US market whose needs can, after all, be quite different from those of the CSP’s own business customers – a sort of one-size-fits-all product for all businesses worldwide. A CSP has little control over such a third-party service and often cannot integrate or orchestrate it with other business services. This greatly curtails his ability to respond to the specific needs of his region and his business customers, so the CSP can hardly contribute to the closing of the productivity gap. This in turn also limits the CSP’s ability to differentiate and thus eliminates the stickiness of the service.
Many of the CSPs we serve want to tend to the needs of both early adopters (i.e. big companies), as well as the SMBs expected to implement workstream collaboration in the upcoming years. For all of the above reasons, they’ve come to us looking for a virtualized and highly flexible workstream collaboration or UCC solution to implement in their own network. As our customers customize these services for their markets and important business customers as well as integrate it with the other business services in their network, they can both differentiate themselves from their competitors and retain the lion’s share of the revenues. This approach has given our customers, e.g. BT Onephone and DNA, distinct commercial and technical advantages over competitors reselling standard products provided in a global vendor’s cloud and not in the CSP’s own network.