For those of you who were not able to attend our inaugural user conference, ConnectCentral, or catch the sessions we streamed over the web, suffice it to say, the conference was well attended and critically acclaimed.
On day two, I led a panel discussion, “Modernization of Business Communications.” The members of the panel included:
- Dave Nuss, Senior Vice President of IT at Cresa Partners (the world’s largest tenant-only commercial real estate firm)
- Paul Chapman, CIO, Box
- Naveed Husain, CIO, Teachers College, Columbia University
The theme the panel explored is very close to home for all of us. In different ways and to different degrees, we’re all working each day to implement and enhance nimble, scalable, easy to manage, cost-effective, omnichannel communications solutions that meet the needs of today’s mobile and globally distributed enterprises.
The members of the panel had a lively discussion that spanned the evolution of business communications systems from wiring closets to the cloud; the various approaches organizations in different industry sectors are taking to employ and leverage cloud-based business communications systems; and how the capabilities provided by RingCentral in particular are being rolled out across organizations and integrated with other key technologies and platforms.
A common point of departure for all of our panelists was the importance of knowing and listening to your users. Increasingly, as Paul Chapman pointed out, there is an expectation of a great, barrier-free, simple, high-quality user experience. As he explained, an employee base that increasingly was born digital; grew up educated by the Googles, the Apples, and the Amazons; that is mobile first (if not mobile only), doesn’t even think about adoption of the cloud. They’re already there, and they come to work with an expectation that their employers will provide them with the comprehensive suite of communication tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
Users are also beginning to experience “app fatigue,” as Dave Nuss described it. They’re tired of having to learn how to use multiple apps and to jump from app to app to accomplish various tasks. They want the functionality to do their work on the same platform without having to waste time. Business just moves too fast these days, and every wasted minute grates on employees, and that, ultimately, is reflected in overall organizational performance.
Among the keywords repeated throughout the discussion were: speed, ease-of-use, always available, and collaborative.
Dave introduced some new catch phrases that I’m sure will begin to circulate throughout attendees’ organizations. In describing Cresa’s overarching approach to its communications challenges and requirements, he said, “For us, it was just cloud first and mobile mandatory.” It’s a simple phrase, but it encapsulates a lot of what we’re all shooting for in terms of delivering on our users’ expectations.
He also talked about “freedom from infrastructure.” You didn’t have to be in the room to feel the heads nodding in agreement. No one wants to be tied to or tangled up in individual wiring closets for every location anymore. And it’s not necessary. “Cloud,” he added, “gives us a better value for our dollar.”
Moving its business communications system to the cloud actually enabled Teachers College, Columbia University, to eliminate its dedicated telecom department. “For us,” Naveed Husain explained, “moving to the cloud, and to RingCentral in particular, meant moving telecom out of a telecom section and into an app that can be supported by the service desk.”
The geographic redundancy provided by RingCentral, along with its integrations with Google Apps and Office 365, are widely used at Teachers College and were a huge plus in delivering on user expectations.
At Box, as Paul described, “freedom of infrastructure” frees up budget, increases speed, and most importantly, allows IT staff “to focus more time and energy on the things that differentiate you in the marketplace.” When you’re forced to manage infrastructure, he added, “there are things you don’t do that could strategically differentiate you and transform the way you run your business. By moving those infrastructure management things out to trusted partners like RingCentral, you free up time to focus on things that add value to your business.”
Dave echoed the importance and significance of pushing out infrastructure to trusted partners. “We realized that no matter how much money we threw at our telecom infrastructure, and no matter how we partnered with single instance applications, we were never going to get to where we are with RingCentral. We put our trust in RingCentral that it could do business communications better than we could, and we’ve seen that that’s true.”