In the first IR Live we speak with Kevin Ryder, Chief Product and Marketing Officer to get his thoughts on:
- The impact IT Teams have felt with the rapid implementation of tools like MS Teams and Zoom
- What the move to hybrid looks like following the COVID effect
- How organizations are managing the increased complexity in their collaboration environments
- What IT Teams can do to provide a better user experience.
IR | BrightTALK
Host: Stuart Matthewman, Head of Communications @IRKevin
Speakers: Ryder, Chief Product & Marketing Office @ IR
Hi, and welcome to the first IR live from IR Studios here in Sydney. I'm Stuart Matthewman and I’m your host for your session today. Really excited to be joined by Kevin Ryder, IR’s Chief Marketing and Product Officer, to talk all things UC Collaboration and Hybrid.
Kevin, thanks for joining me today.
Good to be here, too.
Really exciting session today; this is our first ever live session like this. So if there's any technical issues that will be the wonders of live streaming, so bear with us. We got a great session lined up.
We do have time for Q&A. And we will be taking a lot of questions, I can see them coming through here. So make sure you follow them through. We’ve got lots of topics, I'm sure there'll be plenty of questions that’ll get asked. So make sure you engage and send those questions through—want this to be an engaging session.
And at the end, we'll ask you to leave feedback or any other topics you'd like us to cover as we move forward. So Kevin, you want to maybe introduce yourself to the audience and then we'll dive right in.
Sure. So Kevin Ryder, you said the Chief Product and Marketing Officer or Marketing and Product Officer, depending on which way you’re looking at it. But been at the company for seven years, and very excited to be here today.
It's really exciting time at the moment. Happy to have this conversation and also get some feedback through the questions that come through as well.
Fantastic. Obviously, the world's a different place now. And recent events around COVID and the pandemic have irreversibly changed how we work. What are some of the opportunities and challenges you see for organizations across the globe?
Well, I think the first is, of course, the obvious one, where there's many people now working from home. And what we'll see is that some of those won't want to return. The so-called “new norm”, so I don't think it will be everyone working from home. But I also don't think it will be everyone returning to the office.
So that's going to change the way that we operate as businesses. It's going to change the way that we hire talent, because we're already seeing job adverts now asking for roles that are flexible, and people will insist on that. So if they want that ability to work wherever they wish to.
And I think that will also have an impact on things like real estate. So commercial real estate. What we have today may not be what we need in the future. And that's going to have an impact on IT departments; it's going to have an impact on the infrastructure that we provide; and it's going to have an impact on the tools that our employees wish to use. So I think what will happen is there'll be a shift in thinking about IT as infrastructure and products that we provide employees as they start the organization; there's something about more about the whole user experience—regardless of whether they're in the office, in a coffee shop or at home—is going to be quite common now.
So I think I think that's going to change the way that we think about employees and the tools that we provide them.
Yeah, and that experience is so critical, particularly as people have moved to working remotely globally. We'll touch on that later on.
Obviously, there's been big news around cloud collaboration tools like Teams, Zoom and WebEx and the rush to use those tools, as the workforce has become dispersed.
How do you think tools like Teams and Zoom have played a critical role in keeping people connected? And as a follow up, if you get to this, how do you think these are impacted IT teams?
Well, I think the first thing is that terms or names like Zoom have become part of our vernacular. Even dining tables and families, we talk about having a Zoom call with our friends or a Zoom call with our meeting or work colleagues.
I think what initially happened is there was a bit of a scramble in business continuity to make sure that when this pandemic started, everyone could operate. Businesses could get up and running quickly. So what we saw is the proliferation of tools. Some of them were already standard within the organization. And those organizations were perhaps lucky, perhaps well prepared, that they were able to quickly get their employees working from home. But for many, they had to go out and get whatever tools they could make sure that they could get up and running and get their employees back up and operating as normal.
So what we've seen is the introduction of a lot of new tools; we've seen accelerated moves to the Cloud. We are already looking at that sort of story of moving from a hybrid—so from on-premises to the Cloud. But I think that's been accelerated dramatically. And in fact, some reports, some analysts have shown that that has accelerated over the course of time by about 10% over the compound growth over the next five years. But I think over this year it's just gone through the roof and so that is something that's going to have a huge impact.
And your question was: “What's going to have an impact on the IT organizations?” It’s that they initially were in the first phase of making sure that they could just get them up and running. Whatever they could do—just get them up and running.
And part of that was to ensure basic security; all of the things that you need to make sure that an organization can operate effectively and safely. But now we're moving to the next stage where they're looking at how do they make those tools work more effectively, more efficiently. How can they gain insight into those tools, where perhaps they added some additional collaboration tools that maybe they don't currently have insight to.
So IT departments are somewhat blind if there's issues. So I think that's what's going to happen now is that as we move to normalize, some of these new tools are added and put them into the standard operating environment of IT departments. They're going to need to make sure that they're actually well-equipped to manage those tools and ensure that they are delivering those experiences on an ongoing basis. And not just as a short term.
It's been fascinating to see the innovation from within the tools themselves from moveable backgrounds, tileable backgrounds, dropping into meeting rooms outside of the actual meeting. It's really accelerated the innovation in the tools themselves. It has been fascinating to see and be part of.
My favorite background is my Tottenham football ground actually behind me. Stuart what's yours?
The Adelaide Oval where the mighty Adelaide Crows play. But I haven't used it too often this year, because for those of you outside Australia, Adelaide Crows finished bottom this year. So maybe Leeds because they went up; they won the championship and went up. But your background’s very good actually—that Tottenham won. They want to look good for the amount of money they spend on it.
Speaking of money—in talking to our customers, how would they—what have they been saying about how they've dealt with these challenges you've just outlined around the dispersed workforce, and the complexity that this move to hybrid has added to their environments?
You just touched on the head there; the complexity and its increased complexity. So where organizations may have been very comfortable with their current setup, their on-premises, or the Cloud, they'd already established. Introduction of new vendors always increases complexity. And part of that transition from the Cloud, I think organizations over the years have realized that instead of making things easier, they actually can make it more complex.
And the more complexity that is there in the systems that IT departments create, it's more that you see the end user demands simplicity. And they're working against each other. So they want all of these new things. They want all these new tools, they want the Cloud, but they also want it just to work. And so that's where we're seeing the challenges now for our customers is that they have to manage all this behind the scenes, and how do they all make it work together.
So it's great having the Cloud, you can scale up, you can have all of the flexibility of the Cloud, but you have to ensure that as part of that, it's manageable. And as I said, you simplify that complexity.
Yeah, it's interesting how the simpler things become, the more complex they are in the background to deliver that simplicity, isn't it?
Inversely proportional. Yes.
Yeah. And what about—you talk about the use of—the importance of the user experiencing and having that simplicity? Making sure it does just work?
Yeah, we all experienced the same thing, where you want the tool to work at the moment, in the current situation. Life can be pretty difficult for some; if you've got kids at home, or if you're trying to balance all the things that in a world that has a lot of things have shifted for you.
So you just want things to work.
And you don't want to have to deal with the problems of why things are incompatible, or why the wireless is not working correctly, or perhaps your headset’s not compatible, or all those things—you just want it to work. So in many ways—and I've experienced this in my house—where just because I've worked for an IT company, they think that I'm the IT support person and when something doesn't work, I hear the call downstairs, “Can you just get this thing to work?!”
And it's probably that someone has decided to wander away, too far away from their WiFi, or whatever it is they've done to get away from the noise of the jackhammering neighbour or something. So, it is many of those things that they just want it to work. And so IT departments are called upon often in circumstances where it's outside of their control, but they're still expected to be able to troubleshoot and help them.
I just stopped the jackhammering.
I often get asked by my mother who's in a different state, tech questions. So I don't even have the benefit of being in the same house.
So people just want it to work and quite often don't understand why it isn't. How can organizations simplify some of that complexity? So that when their users are experiencing those issues, or they're having a bad experience, or collaborate on a meeting or video call, what can organizations do to cut that off at the past and make sure that experiences that's delivered is a great one?
Well, of course, the first thing is have the right tools. And that's what IR provides.
So ensuring that they have the right tools that give them that full end-to-end visibility, that single pane of glass, that ability to quickly get to the root cause of any problems. And part of the issue for many of these is a time spent many of these IT departments is the time spent to actually identify where the issue is and if you've got challenges. For example, if you're working remotely, and you've had challenges with the ISPs, they're not going to troubleshoot your network. They're going to say, “You have to find out where the problem is first” before they'll even admit there's a problem, typically. So you know that the challenge is having those right tools. It's really important that the tools they have, a multi-vendor so you need tools that can see end-to-end across the various different vendors that you're supporting and you need to be able to do that, whether they're on-premises or in the Cloud bringing that together so it's really important that the organizations that you choose for your management providers have that vision to have both the on-prem and the Cloud, and can take you on that journey with you. So that's a critical element, I think.
Yeah, it's only got more complex as people have become more dispersed, isn't it? And, reattached on to deliver that simplicity, the complexity, the back end, it's astonishing.
So in terms of what we've gone through this journey ourselves, we've had to work remotely.
Things here in Australia have obviously lightened up— we can come back into the office a couple of days a week now on restricted terms.
But in terms of helping our customers or organizations simplify some of that complexity, what have we done to help them on that journey?
Yeah, good question. We've really worked hard in the background to accelerate the rate of development here. So the rate of innovation, which is really important, because things have changed very quickly. And so our R&D teams have been hard at work with the product teams. And essentially, what we've been doing is making sure that we've accelerated our Cloud platform.
So we launched last year, a whole brand new cloud platform. So now we have that true hybrid story, on-premises and the Cloud. And it's quite unique, but also bringing out new vendors. So we've been hard at work to ensure that we can expand our vendor suite beyond the current and there's new vendors coming out shortly around Microsoft Teams, around Zoom and we've got more to follow. And so the advantage of the Cloud platform is it gives us that ability to innovate quickly.
But not just those; there's many other areas that we're innovating in so that we can help our customers as they now deal with this new norm, as we're calling it. And so I think the rate of acceleration of R&D, and innovation is probably the critical thing that we're going to be doing and making sure that, you know, we can give them the tools that they need in order to keep their customers happy.
Yep. You almost—You didn't give away too much. But you've mentioned support for Teams and Zoom. That's very exciting news. I know that our R&D team has been working very hard to get that up and running.
When will people be able to find out more about what we're doing around Teams and Zoom, because I hear from customers a lot that that's something that is very important to them any more that you can share?
Sure, this is where I give the shameless plug for our Customer Events. So every year in October, November timeframe, we normally bring our customers together. And we have what the past used to be called IR Summit. This year, we've renamed that to IR Connect and because it's all about connecting people, and this year, it's going to be virtual.
And we've had in the past quite a few, several hundred turn up to our events around the world. And we're hoping to increase that this year. And it's going to be a really important one this year. So this year, we're going to be making some interesting and some really innovative announcements. So you will have a lot to find out at that event. It starts on the 19th of October runs through to the 23rd. Go to our website ir.com to sign up. It's a virtual event but we like to see as many of our customers there, and you'll hear much more about it.
Yes, well, that's very exciting. And you don't have to be a customer. We are for the first time ever, non-customers are also invited to come along. In the attachments, there's a link where you can click on, which will take you to check out the agenda, and also to register. Was there any cost to attend?
So this year, we made it free. So we want as many of our customers and partners to come along and to see the event. And we've also got the IR Academy, an event where not only can they learn about our product, product roadmap, and some of the innovations, and you can see some of them in action. But they could also have deep technical sessions and learn far more about our products and how to get the most out of them.
Yeah, and it's speakers from our key alliance partners, we've got research analysts, speaking across UC and Payments. It's gonna be an awesome event. So, head to the attachments link to click on the link and that will take you over to check out the agenda and register. As Kevin said, for free. So we have had a few questions come through which now sort of reached the end of my prepared questions. Thanks for that, it has been a great chat.
Some of the questions that we've had come through, and please keep sending through, we've got a bit of time up our sleeves, until we finish here today with Kevin. This one's coming: “We're currently running Skype for Business with a plan to move to Teams over time, currently running some test sites. We also have a contact center, which runs a mixture of Avaya and Cisco, does the IR solution only look at Microsoft collaboration tools?”
Okay, so they're using today the Skype for Business? Maybe on-premises, maybe in the cloud. But they're migrating to Teams, and they've got a Cloud solution. And they also have contact centers, as well. So those contact centers are on-premises.
IR solution supports not only the UC but also contact centers. So importantly, we can help provide that visibility across all of those customer experiences, whether they're internal for internal users, or their external—their customers through their contact centers. And we have a number of solutions for that, including testing as well, proactive testing, outside in-testing, stress testing, as well as of course monitoring and troubleshooting as well. So yes, we can support that.
We can. Another question’s come in. I think this is going back around people just wanting things to work.
“The move to remote workforces many individuals have been bringing their own devices into our environment, which leads to users having issues. Now, I know myself have had issues with someone at home when I've been using Apple headphones, for example—”
Or your Xbox headphones.
But it's hard to pinpoint those to explain to the user that's what's causing the issue. Do IR solutions help us identify where the issue is? And whether it's being caused by devices used by our people at home?
Yeah, that's a good question.
And it's interesting when we were looking at some of our own usage for our own product, when we had challenges. Like all, we've noticed that quite a few people are picking up headsets that are not recommended by us. And I was only half-joking when I said Xbox, there are people that are using whatever gaming headsets they have, which they may be appropriate for gaming, but not necessarily if you're maybe perhaps a contact center agent working remotely and you need that high definition, high-quality. So yes, the answer is that, we can support that. And we can tell you what headset they're using, what firmware their headsets using, and all of those sort of metrics around that so we can ensure that they're getting the right tools. Perhaps part of that troubleshooting is recommending that they use compatible headsets of an Xbox.
Yes. I'm more of a PlayStation guy myself. No disrespect to Xbox, still a great gaming console.
You talk about the move to hybrid being accelerated as a result of COVID. How far forward do you think this has been pulled?
Well, I mentioned earlier on that we've seen analysts predicted over time that that's a 10% increase in that velocity to the Cloud. But the reality is, we don't quite know yet. I mean, there's been a lot of data that's flowing in, it's very interesting in this current environment where we're seeing it in the news, we're seeing the adoption of some of these tools, like the 300 million zoom users, etc. The numbers are staggering.
But I think that over the course of the next 12 months, they will settle in. What I think is going to definitely happen is we are going to see an accelerated move to hybrid. Hybrid will be the new norm. It won’t be just about Cloud. In fact, there was a time when people were saying, “When do I move my own premises to the Cloud and hybrid was just this very short step in between” that's not going to be the case.
It's going to be Hybrid for a very long time. And it's not going to be a single Cloud either. It's going to be multiple Clouds, vendor Clouds, private Clouds. So that just grows the complexity. Let's be prepared to manage that complexity. Let's not think this is a short transition.
Yes, it's been accelerated. But it's going to be a very long journey.
That brings us up to the end of our time today. We're running short. We’ve come right up to the edge of the time we had allotted. So thank you very much. Any final things you'd like to leave with the audience before we sign off?
Sign up for IR connect—19th of October. Look forward to seeing you all there.
Yeah, and it is a global event, which is important to point out. So irrespective what time zone you're in, you can either catch those sessions, live or on-demand. It's free, make sure you do sign up.
We’ve set a link in the attachments section. We also would ask that you do leave feedback on this session. It's important to us that we're covering off topics that you would like to learn about or hear about, and make sure we bring the right people into our studios for the interview, so be sure to leave feedback for us.
Finally, I just want to thank you for your time today. We know everyone is busy. Everyone's time is precious, and we really appreciate you spending time with us today to hear Kevin's thoughts on UC collaboration and Hybrid. So for me, thank you very much for attending. We look forward to having you another one of our sessions in the near future.