At the dawn of the Cloud Era, there were those who actually believed that IT people would resist the cloud out of fear of losing their jobs. While it’s impossible to say that no IT person ever lost a job to the cloud, I think it’s safe to say that the cloud is turning out to be a major career opportunity (read: work challenge) for IT/communications people.
Two posts on No Jitter this week brought this home to me: Consultant Sorell Slaymaker writes about the various communications security capabilities that are moving to the cloud—these include session border controllers (SBCs), E-911, and call authentication. And in another post, Melissa Swartz of Swartz Consulting writes about the emergence of AI-as-a-service as the likely model for the way enterprises will integrate artificial intelligence into their communications and contact center systems.
These posts demonstrate how communications teams’ mission hasn’t changed in the Cloud Era, even as the way they work goes through a major transformation. Sorell’s post addresses the many security and compliance challenges that can now be addressed by cloud-based services, while Melissa focuses on the opportunities that AI brings, especially to the contact center.
Enterprise communications environments are growing more complex as the scope evolves from voice-only to multimedia: Text-based messaging, team collaboration, video across all devices. Another vector of complexity is the relatively recent introduction of APIs into the communications space, allowing communications capabilities to be integrated into virtually any kind of business application your enterprise runs. In such a complex environment, it seems highly unrealistic to believe that a single provider could deliver your enterprise an end-to-end service that encompassed all of your unique requirements. Sorell puts it this way: “Instead of fighting the trend of a multi-UC platform environment, IT should embrace the reality that not one UC platform meets the cost, feature, security, and performance requirements for all use cases.”
Rather, the job of meeting all of those unique requirements will fall to your own IT/communications teams, and you’ll assemble the solution from the range of cloud-based services on offer. Basically, you’re buying services instead of products, but you’re still the person or people that have to make it all work and fulfill all the requirements.
One element that should be high on any IT/communications team’s list of priorities when evaluating cloud-based services is data residency and ownership. As Joe Park, who’s responsible for employee experience at Walmart, pointed out in his Enterprise Connect Orlando 2019 keynote, user data (employed responsibly) is a key pillar of the workplace of the future, an important tool in understanding how employees do their work, and how you can help them do it better. And in the case of security systems, this data is also a potential target and vulnerability.
So it’s critical to understand, with any cloud provider, where your data will reside, how it will be protected, and what will happen to that data if or when you change providers. Don’t assume that the provider has built its systems and contracts in these areas with your best interests in mind. You’ll also want to understand how data may or may not need to be shared among systems, and how this might factor into your decisions about which providers to use for which features and functions.
Enterprise communications seems to be headed toward a multi-cloud future. IT/communications professionals will be the orchestrators and stewards of that future.