Expert Q&A: How should service owners simplify enterprise collaboration?

Digital transformation is rapidly changing how and from where we conduct business, resulting in huge market growth for collaborative solutions and video conferencing technologies.

To service this demand a multitude of vendors have entered the market which has created complexity for the Enterprise. As working culture evolves and modernises, users require the tools and support to collaborate with colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners – from any location, from any device, and using the meeting solution of their choice, seamlessly.

For our latest White Paper 'The Benefits of a Simplified Enterprise Collaboration Experience', we sat down with Videocall founder Rob Portwood, and Pexip Chief Commercial Officer Tom-Erik Lia to get their views on how service owners can address the biggest challenges of collaboration – control, security and interoperability while ensuring investments are protected and that every user has a frictionless and positive experience..


Q1. While researching this paper, we’ve seen that many organisations operate 2 or more collaboration platforms, why is this the case?

Tom-Erik Lia: We see that new workstream collaboration tools gain traction in the market, while many organisations also invest in dedicated video conferencing conference rooms. Eventually new solutions appear in the market, companies are acquiring other companies that might have selected and standardized on a different solution and we also see that companies that are spread out geographically often selected different solutions in different areas.

Over time this becomes a challenge as a lot of the meeting solutions and conference room solutions are built specifically to work with a single vendor. This has made interoperability between video solutions to become more important than ever. Users do not want to have to learn a new technology or workflow; they simply want to join a meeting without thinking about which client to use or which conference room that you have to go to in order to join a specific meeting.

When large organisations migrate to new collaboration tools, they are often required to continue using the video conferencing systems they already have. Breaking down the collaboration silos requires seamless integration between 3rd party incompatible technologies.

One of Pexip’s major differentiators is through our gateway interoperability services which allow Pexip, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business users as well as devices from other vendors such as Cisco to all join the same meetings, thus broadening the collaboration capabilities of our customers.

Rob Portwood: There are several possible explanations for this. It could simply be that the organisation is migrating from one platform to another and has a requirement to support 3rd party collaboration on some level (e.g. supply chain, customers etc, legacy VC).

Or it can be caused by regional and geographical instances, a culture of supporting a number of preferred platforms, senior exec sponsorship or a need (perceived or otherwise) for a complex and conservative migration which might seem never ending to some.

Q2. Digital transformation and the move to cloud is something most organisations are planning for, or already into the process.

How do you define digital transformation as it relates to collaboration?

Rob Portwood: As businesses embarks on the road to digital transformation, collaboration can be positioned as an early “win” on this journey. It digitally connects the business at all levels with positive impacts on outcomes both for the user and business. By its nature it opens the door to changes in working practises, individual and team productivity, enabling a more flexible, nimble and responsive organisation.

Tom- Erik Lia: According to Wainhouse research, the work force has become more global and the user of cross-border teams and collaboration is increasingly more common. Coupled with an increasing demand for work-life balance and flexible workplaces, this has resulted in an increased rate of remote work. Remote work (often termed telework, telecommuting, distributed work, mobile work, smart working, work shifting or other) is the practice of applying technology as a substitute for travel. This has led to the need for better communication and collaboration technology, including video conferencing.

Digital transformation is creating a need for simple, user-friendly collaboration tools: As companies embrace digital transformation and more modern workplaces, they expect a simple, easy-to-use meeting platform that works where their employees do. They need tools that are flexible, cloud-friendly, and intuitive.

The way people work is changing, and meetings are no longer confined to the boardroom or conference room. Employees need to be able to meet wherever they are, whether that be a huddle room, their desk, at home, or on the road, and they need an easy way to join meetings -- both those they host and those they are invited to.

Q3. As we saw in the Nemertes research, only 31% of organisations are using a cloud-based communication tool. But nearly half of organisations still running on-prem are evaluating or planning to move to the cloud.

Does this match what you’re seeing in the market?

Tom- Erik Lia: Yes. Aging infrastructure is creating a new opportunity for cloud-based solutions: Many companies today have aging video infrastructure and are looking for a replacement. As their video infrastructure faces end-of-life, furthermore, I believe that customers want to future-proof their video conferencing infrastructure with a high level of control and detailed, granular management capabilities.

Rob Portwood: Based on this perhaps the world isn’t “as cloudy” as one might have thought. Given acceptable security and data protection the overwhelming preferences is to make deployment decisions based on cloud technologies and or services, be they public, private, self-hosted or hybrids. The decision on deployment methodologies should be made after the service has been scoped and agreed thus leaving deployment considerations to be addressed in the own very valid right,

i.e.:

  • Do we have our own compute that could be utilised?
  • Does our security and data requirements mean we have to follow a specific route?
  • Do we require a high level of management and control?
  • Are expectations and requirements as to service performance lead us to one deployment model over another?
  • What time/type of commercial model is preferred? (Capex, Opex, SaaS, pay as PAYGO).

Is ‘on-prem’ falling away? Yes, it is and consequently self-hosted private cloud solutions have a place going forward.

Q4. Across various IT platforms, data management and processes, IT leaders appear to either be moving to increase the level of control with management tools, or divest control to simplify with more cloud based solutions and automation.

With regards to collaboration tools, what trends are you seeing?

Rob Portwood: It’s very much horses for courses, given a comprehensive understanding of what needs to be and can be achieved or indeed mandated. The trend does appear to indicate more demand for at least visibility of management and control tools at one end of the spectrum to access to a full suite of tools for IT and support teams to utilise.

Tom- Erik Lia: Overall, I would say that Cloud is becoming the preferred way to run enterprise applications in general. As much as 80% of organizations are predicted to migrate toward the cloud by 2025 according to Fortune Business insight and 84% of enterprise run on a multi-cloud strategy. Many organizations have existing investments to leverage and evolving deployment preferences and are in the process of moving from dedicated on premises solutions to the cloud (IaaS/PaaS) or to a service (SaaS).

Q5What issues are solved or prevented by IT departments having more management control of their collaboration platforms?

Tom- Erik Lia: Solutions that can be self-hosted where the IT department do not have to share any data outside the organisation providing a high level of control and privacy where the company itself decides where the data is stored and who has got access to the data. The enterprise is then free to implement the policies as they see fit. For companies with high level of privacy requirements and compliance this is the best solution. Often this type of solution can be found within large enterprise, healthcare, finance, government and military.

Rob Portwood: The ability to access a comprehensive management platform across a collaboration in some organisations is seen as “a must”, whilst other customers see it as a nice to have or rely on a partner to provide such services within an overall service scope. The important consideration is the scope in which a management tool can reach across and ‘end to end’ service, any integration within existing tools and services, be they on house or partner delivered.

Q6. How big an issue is data privacy and security for IT departments operating one or more collaboration tools?

Tom- Erik Lia: Security, privacy and compliance is one of the top concerns for any CIO and IT leader independent of how many tools they are operating.

Rob Portwood: Management of risk for Security and data sovereignty are and will continue to be an important consideration when looking at a collaboration service. This is largely addressed by selection of partner, platform, nature of data, geography and deployment method.

Q7. Cisco have announced they are adding interoperability functionality with Microsoft Teams to Webex, and other platforms are following suit.

How do you predict this move will impact IT leaders and their users?


Rob Portwood: This at face value is an important development. As always with vendor interoperability, or shall we call then “gateways” the devil is in the detail, namely to what degree of features and functionality will be supported over and above connectivity and importantly what level of workflow integration is supported. Basic interoperability gateways may help to preserve some communities of users or platforms, but true integration and interoperability should bring all users and platforms together without compromising workflows or user experience.


Tom- Erik Lia: I think this validates what we at Pexip have been communicating for a long time; customers do not want to be locked into silos and they want to able to use their meeting solutions across technologies. They want to communicate internally as well as externally with the solution they have without thinking about all of these barriers between the various collaboration solutions.

Interview from "The Benefits of a Simplified Enterprise Collaboration Experience" White paper.

This White paper, produced in partnership with Pexip, examines how service owners can address the biggest challenges of collaboration – control, security and interoperability while ensuring investments are protected and that every user has a frictionless and positive experience.

Pexip simplifies video communication across borders, businesses and platforms, enabling everyone to be seen, heard and included.Pexip offers both self-hosted and as-a-service deployment options for enterprise video conferencing, built on the core Pexip Infinity technology.

To find out more about how Pexip simplifies communication across borders, businesses and platforms, please visit www.pexip.com

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