NetSapiens CEO, Anand Buch, has been an active participant and presenter in TMC events for many years. As an introduction to this year’s ITEXPO in Ft. Lauderdale, TMC has developed a Q&A discussing some of the most popular and most critical issues in technology today. You can find Anand’s responses to these questions below. We hope that it gives you insight into NetSapiens, our CEO, and the industry as a whole.
Technology is changing business for the better when it is used wisely and with a purpose. Technology is no longer solely the IT department’s responsibility. Instead, it is woven into the fabric of society and used by every department in an organization. Companies that find the most success are taking the technology that is available to them and strategically implementing it in a way that connects business processes and optimizes communication. They are the ones who are seeing technology change their business for the better.
When companies begin to create or buy technology just for the sake of having the new technology they begin to run into trouble. There is a lot of “noise” in the industry now that the barriers to enter the market are lower than ever. When decision makers make informed and calculated choices about the technology that they choose, their businesses will thrive.
Have we finally reached an inflection point with Unified Communications adoption? What is driving or hindering the market?
I don’t believe that Unified Communications adoption has reached an inflection point. In fact, I think that we are far from it. Research reports show that even the basic transition of phone service from TDM to IP has not been made for many businesses, leaving large opportunities for VoIP and Unified Communications to continue to grow. The changing demographics in the workforce is another factor that will continue to drive UC adoption. Millennials will grow into becoming workplace decision makers, bringing their technological competencies with them which lends itself to increased UC adoption as well.
What do you say to industry observers who say UC is dead?
UC as a buzzword may fade in time, but the concept of Unified Communications will continue to grow and become even more powerful with the use of flexible APIs for easy integrations, WebRTC for more efficient collaboration, and a general workplace acceptance of new technology when many of the older legacy systems need to be replaced. The desire to optimize communication by unifying the different tools and channels that a business uses to communicate both internally and externally will not fade away.
When it comes to unified communications, do you believe it’s better to meet customers where they are (i.e., popular business applications like Salesforce, or social networks like LinkedIn) or to use your interface as the front-end and then do integrations with those popular applications?
I think you need to meet the customer where the customer prefers to be met given the context they are in at that particular moment in time. What is important is to have the flexibility to be able to give each client what works best for their company. Whether they would like to work within a third-party interface or within a proprietary UI like NetSapiens’ suite of user portals, they should have the opportunity to do so. This is largely accomplished by maintaining flexible API’s, strategic integrations with the third party companies, and working closely with our clients.
How do you use social media in your daily business? Should social be a major initiative for all businesses?
I use social media as one of many methods to keep a pulse on the industry. If social media should be a major or minor initiative would depend on the type of business and the audience you are trying to reach. Some businesses like local service providers would absolutely benefit from keeping open lines of communication between themselves and their local customers. However, it is not always an obvious answer if this should be considered a major initiative instead of just a venue for communication.
How are collaboration software/services are helping workers today?
Collaboration software and services are helping workers in many ways but in general, the notion of an “on-the-fly” ability to work with a team from any location seems to hold the most value. The increasing speed and agility of collaboration technology will only strengthen the connections internally between workers of the same company and externally with other organizations. With the advancement of WebRTC, collaboration has become even easier by eliminating plugins that often serve as a barrier to communication.
WebRTC went through a very significant hype cycle. Will its use cases and adoption live up to that hype?
I believe that WebRTC will live up to the hype, but businesses will have to make an effort to find solutions that are more than just “technology for the sake of technology”. NetSapiens is focusing on using WebRTC to enhance our core competencies. We are using WebRTC to bridge the gap between traditional telephony and the new technology with an integrated softphone, video conferencing, file share, and other new features in our platform.
What is the biggest security threat currently facing businesses?
A lack of internal education for employees may be the biggest security threat currently facing businesses. Now that technology is integrated into every aspect of a business, every employee needs to be competent in keeping the organization secure.
Has corporate awareness of security threats increased over the past year? Have security practices been adjusted as a result?
I would think that corporate awareness of security threats would be on the rise as we have seen many high profile cases of security breaches on the news recently, however, I don’t know how this has affected the mentalities of most businesses. I can say that I have seen our client base steadily increase their platform’s redundancy using our n-Share technology to distribute their network geographically. That way, if something like a DDOS attack should occur, they are able to continue serving their clients from another location on different servers.
Should mobile devices have integrated software allowing for separation of business and personal apps and data?
A user should be able to use their mobile device for both business and personal use without compromising one or the other. A mobile device should be able to be used as an extension of their work identity when communicating away from their desk. However, they should also be able to use the same device in their personal life as well. For example, SNAPmobile is a mobile application that can be used to manage a user’s work identity including the ability to make and receive calls using their work number yet it will not interfere with the phone’s native functionality.
How is cloud computing shaking up your product/service offerings? How has it impacted your competitive market?
The growth of cloud computing is creating more opportunities for our service provider clients. More and more businesses are becoming familiar with the concept and are starting to actively look for alternatives to their on-premise PBX systems. Our clients are able to use this growing knowledge as a “foot in the door” to sell hosted PBX, hosted contact centers, and other cloud services more easily than ever. As always, when our client’s succeed we succeed as well.
How are companies benefiting or losing out from the move to cloud solutions like Office 365?
The most obvious primary benefit is the ability to access all of your tools and associated data independent from your location or device. The notion of having “always available” tools, documents and data gives companies more flexibility as mobility becomes a more significant trend in the workplace. Another benefit for end users is the comfort that comes with knowing that your work as a whole is being backed up at all times when it would normally only be connected to a single PC.
Will wearable tech become a major enterprise technology? What will drive or hinder adoption?
I think wearable tech has the ability to become a major enterprise technology, but it will likely see more growth initially in certain vertical markets. The driver of adoption will really be the organizations that already use technology attached to one’s body which makes the move to a consolidated tool like a watch or glasses that serve business purposes a more natural progression.
What big data and analytics tools are you using and why? How is Big Data changing the way you conduct business?
Big data technology is really a natural evolution in the roadmap of technology for NetSapiens. It is changing the way we conduct business because our clients are increasingly asking for big data technologies to allow them to get a better understanding of their operations in their business.
What technology has had the greatest impact on your ability to perform your job in the past year? Explain.
Outside of the technology in the NetSapiens platform, I would say the technology that had the greatest impact on my ability to perform my job was actually something very basic like the increasing availability of more reliable in-flight Wifi. I frequently travel to visit clients and attend industry events, so in-flight WiFi has been a huge help with maintaining the level of productivity required when running a company.
What has been the most impactful development or trend in 2015 that is changing how industry players need to do business?
There are three trends that I believe were the most impactful to how the industry does business. The first is the sharing economy which in simple terms is about efficient collaboration and commerce between peers. Next would be the increased production, adoption, and growth of mobile applications. Lastly, the continued impact of the millennial generation in the workplace has been a significant development in 2015 and will continue to do so in years to come.
To what extent, if any, are you and your partners doing deals with line-of-business leaders who are not in IT or telecom departments? Which departments seem to be leading the way on this trend (Accounting, HR, Marketing, Sales, etc.) and how are you changing your marketing and sales tactics to address this shift?
This is likely a better question for our clients, but I would speculate that a lot of our clients are now doing deals with users that simply see a UC solution as simply being a “tool of the trade”. For example, we have many clients that sell into SMB employees that really don’t care or understand what the underlying transport technology is (VoIP) or what the underlying infrastructure is (a Private UC Cloud). They just want a solution that integrates with their information (CRM) and allows their department to efficiently and effectively operate at a cost that is justified.
What is the greatest challenge the channel is up against today?
The channel faces a challenge when it comes to consumer applications and the low barrier to entry that they hold for both the vendors creating these apps and consumers using them. New market entrants are offering solutions like cloud storage and different forms of communications for a very low price. For end-users, it has become difficult to differentiate between these apps in order to make the right choice for their enterprise business. The channel must figure out how to educate the end user on what make one offering different from the next and where the value truly lies.
What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO Ft. Lauderdale?
As always, I am looking forward to seeing our existing clients. I am also looking forward to adding some value to the industry during my involvement in panels and seeking new perspectives on things happening out in the market.
Why should attendees come to your session/visit your booth?
They should come to our “Making the Best Choice: Open Source versus Commercial Softswitches” session! We will be having an open discussion and answering questions on Tuesday, January 26th at 10:00 AM. They can also come visit the NetSapiens booth to learn more about our company and the solutions we offer that enable our service provider clients to sell VoIP and Unified Communications around the world.