For quite some time, certainly going back several decades, various key elements of information technology have been evolving on parallel tracks. Specifically, I’m thinking about applications, business communications and platforms. The evolution has been rapid, and at times, a bit confusing.
Now, though, we’re seeing these parallel tracks in the process of merging as the cloud has matured enough to become a focal point for what is increasingly viewed as the most efficient, cost-effective and reliable model for business computing in the broadest sense of that term. More than anytime in the past, we are seeing the seamless enablement of the anywhere, anytime, any device, always available work environment.
Call it the as a service convergence that has brought business applications, enterprise infrastructures and business communications solutions together in the cloud. This convergence is still frequently discussed in a fragmented, shorthand fashion using SaaS, IaaS, DBaaS, UCaaS and other as a service acronyms. Not every organization is migrating immediately, as some don’t yet feel comfortable discarding on-premise investments they’ve made over the past couple of decades. So, we’re in sort of a hybrid stage for the moment. But make no mistake, while the earlier stages of the trend involved the movement of separate IT parts, pieces and functionality to hosted environments, we’re now seeing an irreversible movement to the cloud, and more recently, a knitting together of those various enterprise computing elements within the cloud.
Taking a step back, it’s clear that while there was resistance initially in many organizations to divest themselves of their hardware, software and business communications acquisition and management businesses (regardless of what businesses they were really in), over time most have grown more comfortable with moving all or nearly all of their physical assets (and the associated management and maintenance headaches) off-premise to the cloud.
The cloud’s basic value proposition is compelling. It delivers dramatic hard and soft cost reductions, simplifies multi-location administration and maintenance, provides virtually unlimited scalability and ad hoc flexibility, delivers new features and functionality across enterprises immediately as they become available, efficiently connects mobile and remote workers, and unifies omni-channel business communications. Omni-channel support refers to a business’ ability to enable outstanding customer experiences by allowing employees, customers and suppliers to communicate using the modality of their choice including social media, web, desktop, mobile, messaging, video and business applications.
Even regarding the last point of resistance to offloading IT hardware and information – security – we are nearing universal consensus that not only is security in the cloud as solid as in on-premise deployments, but that in many cases it’s superior.
Drivers of such change stem from larger businesses seeing Cloud as not only a vital element of communication but also as the future source of business tools for its evolution.
Consequently, cloud IT infrastructure spend is predicted by IDC to reach $53.1 billion with a 15.1 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2019, accounting for over 46 percent of total enterprise IT spend driven by public cloud data-center expansions. Other forecasts predict that over the next four to five years SaaS business applications will amount to a $50.8 billion business, with upwards of 30 percent of enterprise applications being SaaS applications.
Unlike the fluffy clouds that float overhead on beautiful summer days, cloud computing is the next generation supersonic transport (SST), empowering warp speed business activity while delivering unprecedented positive customer experiences.
RingCentral has seen this coming since its founding. It has always been a cloud business communications company, established to break down the communication barriers created by complex on-premise hardware and to free people to work the way they want in today’s mobile, distributed and always-on work world.
While business applications still maintain a center stage position, we’re now seeing multi-modal cloud business communications solutions like RingCentral Office being infused into those business applications.
This is a welcome development to those employees who spend the majority of their time working in specific applications or application suites. The integration of comprehensive business communications functionality into their business applications, visible and usable on the same screens, literally puts all the information and functionality they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively right in front of them. No need to switch in and out of stand alone applications.
Integrating UCaaS directly into business applications has been made possible by the emergence and adoption of the Worldwide Web Consortium’s WebRTC protocol. It’s expected that this WebRTC-driven empowerment will impact some 19 billion devices by 2018. It’s also made possible by UCaaS providers like RingCentral opening up their communications APIs.
As WebRTC adoption continues, what will emerge are fully integrated cloud environments in which users will work from browser interfaces built in WebRTC and HTML5. Standalone business applications and downloaded mobile apps will fade away as business applications and omni-channel business communications will be delivered as inseparable parts of the same user interface, all accessible anywhere, anytime, from any internet connected device.
You’ll be hearing a lot more about this trend in the near future. For now, for information on this trend and the ways it can benefit your organization please call 877
Originally published May 24, 2016, updated Aug 12, 2020