ReadyTalk Discusses Current State of UC, Collaboration
If anyone knows unified communications and collaboration solutions, it’s ReadyTalk. The cloud communications company offers several communications services meant to make collaboration easy no matter where you’re located. One of its most prominent offerings is conferencing capabilities—Web, audio, video and mobile; the company also offers recording and archiving capabilities, making it easy for workers to go back over previous conversations. Each year, technology seems to lean more and more toward helping workers collaborate remotely, and ReadyTalk is all in on that front.
One expert on the ReadyTalk team is Matt DiRenzo, product manager, UC. Matt joined the company in 2013 and has since worked on ReadyTalk’s video collaboration platform, FoxDen. For those interested, ReadyTalk will be exhibiting at ITEXPO this coming February 8-10 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Attendees will be able to hear some of Matt’s insights in person, as he is taking part in the session “The Future of the Workplace and MSPs,” held Feb. 10 at 10 a.m.
To prepare for the big event, TMC caught up with Matt to discuss his views on the current state of UC and collaboration. Our full exchange can be seen below:
How have technology changes over the past 12 months helped businesses grow?
With more and more applications and tools becoming cloud-based, it has allowed companies to become more open to allowing their employees to work remotely and allowing a BYOD policy. This has caused a more dispersed workforce, so the need for collaboration technology has risen. Obviously, as a cloud communications company with a deep collaboration product set, this has been a big factor in our growth.
What does the term Collaboration mean to your business?
ReadyTalk was built on developing better ways for people to collaborate. So for us, collaboration is the last thing we think about when we go to bed at night and it’s the first thing we think about when we wake up in the morning. For ReadyTalk, collaboration means connecting people and powering ideas.
What elements of Unified Communications are most useful for your company?
ReadyTalk has a very flexible work from home policy and our employees work remotely from all corners of the globe – so having a communication solution that allows ReadyTalk-ers to work anywhere and on any device is the most important and useful element of our Unified Communication solution.
Are you using messaging technologies to communicate with your customers? How, or why not?
Yes. ReadyTalk uses everything from old school mailers to in app messaging to connect and communication with our customers. Our latest VCaaS solution, FoxDen, leverages Intercom for our in app messaging so our users can immediately provide feedback or get support directly in the app.
Are you leveraging big data/analytics to operate more efficiently?
Yes. As a Product Manager, I am always trying to identify what new features we should add or which features our customers are finding the most (or least) value. To do this, I gather data from user testing research on new products and features during our development stage. Seeing data on how users interact with your product or looking a feature requests gives us the ability to make sure we are investing in products and features user want and not ones they don’t.
How can artificial intelligence best be used in business applications?
In today’s data-filled world, artificial intelligence is a huge factor in gathering insights and predicting outcomes. What’s great about this - is it is useful in every single industry. Every company has an exorbitant amount of data available to them. It’s up to AI to figure out what that means and what to do with it.
Content marketing has become a hot topic recently. Have you defined a content marketing strategy and how has it helped you build your business?
Content fuels any go-to-market strategy. Our content marketing strategy encompasses developing assets that increases our brand awareness and educates our audience on our products. We utilize our content to differentiate our brand among our competitors as well as engage with our audience to attract and acquire new customers.
How will augmented/virtual reality by used in business environments?
Augmented/virtual reality is going to make collaborating more effective and efficient. You are already starting to see this trend in early adopters of the technology and what’s emerging in the VR space. For example, we have already seen organizations using VR headsets to examine CAD designs in a collaboration virtual space. At Oculus Connect 2016, Facebook demoed how Oculus is designing virtual meeting spaces so organizations with dispersed workforces can meet together in a virtual environment.
How have the growing number of high-visibility security breaches impacted your outlook on security? Which breach is of greatest concern?
Security has always been an area of concern for everyone - not just IT managers. Recently, security breaches have become more and more sophisticated. And nowadays, consumers provide a lot of their information online - putting all of us at risk for a security breach. The recent Yahoo breach compromised 1 billion accounts was concerning as it continues to happen – even with increased security precautions.
Have you increased your investment in security technology in the past year? Are you likely to increase your security spend in the next year? Why or why not?
Yes. ReadyTalk made extensive investments in the past year in security technology and will be continuing to do so going forward. The IT team has also educated the company on how to prevent security breaches - both at work and in our personal lives. However, we aren’t going to say what they are because that wouldn’t be very secure…
To what extent are you leveraging APIs to enhance business opportunities?
We leverage APIs through developing amazing partnerships with experts like Cloud Elements so we can provide integrations to our customers for the majority of main business tools used today.
What percentage of your workforce would you consider mobile? What technology decisions have you made as a result of your mobile workforce, to ensure they have the tools they need to remain productive?
ReadyTalk has a great work from home policy, remote employees and a BYOD policy – meaning 100 percent of our workforce is mobile. At ReadyTalk, we make sure everyone has the ability to do their job from anywhere and on any device.
To what extent are you using cloud services in your daily business processes?
All day, every day. Not only are the communications solutions we sell cloud based, but the tools we use internally are as well.
Has your use of cloud-based resources increased over the past year? Do you expect to make more use of cloud computing in the coming year? Please elaborate.
At ReadyTalk, the majority of the resources we use already are cloud based. Whenever we are evaluating a new tool, we always make sure it is cloud based (or accessed via VPN) so our remote co-workers can still leverage these tools. We typically won’t even consider adopting a tool that is not cloud based.
How are you handling shadow IT in your business?
By not fighting it. At ReadyTalk, we have a BYOD policy for your mobile devices and most of our tools are cloud-based so there is not necessarily a need to always use a ReadyTalk laptop to do work. Also, our IT department is very open in allowing co-workers download the tools they need to do their job.
How has the growth in the managed services market impacted your business?
It seems like everyone is getting into the B2B MSP business. Even traditional B2C companies like Google and Facebook have made plays in recent years to become an MSP. This has increased the competitive landscape -- so standing out and having something different from our competitors is becoming more important than ever.
Is the cloud / MSP model a realistic one for reliable IT security?
It will be for some organizations that can’t afford to have a robust IT department. Micro-businesses and SMB organizations with a limited IT staffing budget will benefit from using a cloud-based MSP for their IT security. This is because they are getting a professionally run service and infrastructure at a cost they can afford. This is definitely more appealing and affordable for smaller organizations than trying to DIY it themselves.
What are your thoughts on containerization technology as an alternative to traditional virtualization?
I’m all for solutions that allow for more flexibility while lowering costs and containers do just that. While it might have higher security risks than traditional virtualization, I believe the security part will catch up as quickly as container technology has emerged.
What emerging technology has the potential to have a disruptive impact on businesses in the coming years?
Beacon technology has the potential to change everything from the way people shop to helping cities improve their transportation services. Beacons will give organizations the ability to not only track user data points but also send notifications on deals and upcoming events. Beacons will also improve the experience for end users as well. Sports stadiums like Levi Stadium in Santa Clara are already using beacons to allow users to order food and beverages from their mobile device and have their orders brought to them wherever they are in the stadium.
How has your business’ product development evolved over the past year as a result of emerging technologies?
Beacons are one of the emerging technologies ReadyTalk has taken advantage of over the past year. In April of last year, we launched our in room video conference system, FoxDen Connect, which detects users via our beacon technology when they walk into a conference room. Once a user is recognized by the beacon, they can easily start a video conference from their own mobile device with one click on their mobile device.
Are channel partners keeping up with the latest trends and developments? Is more education needed and how can they better leverage the latest technologies to grow?
Just like users, our channel partners range from early adopters to the laggards. Our early adopter channel partners are innovating every day and are looking to take advantage of the emerging technologies. Our laggards don’t necessarily need more education on the latest technology trends, but need to be convinced in the value in the technology.
What will you have on display at your booth and why should attendees make it a point to visit you at your booth?
ReadyTalk is excited to be a first-time sponsor at ITEXPO! Come by our booth to spin our prize wheel to win a variety of awesome swag! We want to be your cloud communications sidekick and ensure that all your IT professionals are considered heroes at your company. Stop by to find out how!
What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO 2017?
The people. My favorite part of any tradeshow is meeting my peers in the MSP space, learning about their businesses and exchanging ideas. I always leave feeling inspired and motivated.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi