UC Implications from Dialpad’s New Study about Anywhere Workers
What do you do when…
- 84% of your customers have some form of a remote workforce,
- 51% report that 40% or more of their workforce is remote,
- 83% expect an increased reliance on remote working over the next 3-5 years,
- 59% believe desk phones are obsolete,
- 78% believe desk phones will either be occasionally used or non-existent 3-5 years from now,
- And 89% believe that phone systems should integrate with applications like Office 365 or Salesforce.com?
Whether these data points are becoming painfully familiar, or you’re seeing some surprises here, this is indeed an accurate reflection of what businesses are thinking right now. Of course, what people expect or believe does not always translate into action, but the sentiments are strong and too important to ignore.
These are the key findings from a recently published study, titled 2016 Report on Business Communications in the Era of the Anywhere Worker. The title is rather clunky, but more importantly, the report was produced by Dialpad, a company with a great pedigree of innovation in the communications space. In their current iteration, the company is at the vanguard of CPaaS players, and while this post isn’t about Dialpad, their report is a good example of reading the tea leaves and trying to understand what a post-PBX world looks like.
The report is quite short, and that’s ok, as I think the above handful of findings tells a good story, and one with implications for anyone in the UC space. I should also note that the research is credible, with a sample base of 1,014 respondents, spread across enterprises, mid-sized businesses and SMBs. With 80% of the sample being key decision makers – Senior Manager, Director or Executive – the respondents are speaking to the greater needs of their businesses, so this isn’t just about what IT is thinking.
Two Takeaways – What Do You Do?
For most of our readers, these findings should not be unexpected, but quantifying them provides context, and makes the trends seem more real. In my view, there are calls to action here, and here are two to consider, whether you’re in the business of selling UC&C solutions, or on the buying end, trying to figure out what’s really driving business value for your employees.
1. Understand What’s Happening with Remote Working
Remote working is clearly on the rise, and an element of the broader future of work landscape that is reshaping fundamental concepts around where work gets done, how it gets done, when it gets done, etc. Each company needs to carefully examine what role remote working needs to play to keep employees productive, and how far-flung those employees need to be. Working backwards, this will help define the needs for communications solutions, and not surprisingly, this is where the cloud story resonates, whether it be for UCaaS, CPaaS or other varieties of hosted collaboration offerings.
Technology aside, there’s an opportunity here for the channel – and hosted providers – to help businesses develop an effective plan to support remote working. Aside from the above data points, the research indicates that 33% of businesses do not have firm remote working policies in place. While the remaining 67% do support work-from-home policies, it’s not clear from the research just how formalized those are.
Given the magnitude of this trend, along with how quickly it’s emerging, my view is that most businesses are underestimating the implications, and by extension, aren’t seeing the full value that hosted UC brings.
2. Stop Equating Telephony With Voice
Nobody will dispute that the PBX is on its way out, despite the fact that vendors still post solid numbers on IP phone shipments. Along those lines, there are mixed messages from the data, as only 22% feel desk phones will be “an essential tool” 3-5 years from now, yet 46% of businesses still provide desk phones to all employees. As such, UC channels and vendors cannot totally dismiss the desk phone, and must also accept it playing a secondary role in the value proposition, especially when tied to remote working needs.
This speaks to changing role of voice and a subtle, but important message from the report. First generation UC offerings were telephony-centric by nature, but as the desk phone loses relevance and as the cloud matures, CPaaS disruptors like Dialpad have come along with a different model, but one where voice still has a role. An additional finding from the report shows that businesses are providing a growing number of options to employees to continue using voice as employees move on from their desk phones. For example, 65% provide employees with laptops, 61% support BYOD, and 45% provide cell phones.
As such, voice needs to remain central to the UC value proposition, and accordingly, the messaging needs to shift from being about telephony to supporting what the report refers to as “anywhere workers.” Not only do they still need to use voice for real-time communication, but they need to use it in a more integrated fashion. As per the final bullet point above, to the extent that phone systems cannot integrate with other applications, they will have limited business value.
Conversely, other forms of voice can do this natively, and this is a key value driver for cloud-based solutions, especially CPaaS. For businesses that are ready to move on from desk phones as well as recognizing the need to keep voice core to how employees collaborate today, cloud providers like Dialpad represent a great path to UC. The data from this study certainly provides indicators that many businesses are ready now, and at the upcoming BC Summit we’ll be exploring the implications across the full UC ecosystem.