What are some opportunities you see on the horizon with cloud?

I’m shocked there’s still a huge number of enterprises that haven’t yet made the move to UC and contact center as a service via the cloud. There’s tremendous opportunity there to transition to something more capable as part of their digital transformation journey, especially with so much of the workforce being remote right now.

For example, how often do employees leverage their assigned DID for texts? Text messaging is great for peer-to-peer communications and SMS is also becoming a preferred way to connect with customers as part of the contact center strategy. Employees don’t have to give out their personal numbers and the company retains access to customers’ messages and interactions if someone leaves the organization. It’s still such a big growth area and something I think businesses should strongly consider if they haven’t already started that migration.

Are there features or functionalities of cloud that still have untapped potential?

People embraced video conferencing at scale when COVID-19 hit and it’s been a valuable way to keep those human, face-to-face interactions going. Screen sharing is also a helpful component of many top-level solutions but not everyone is using that feature. The same can be said for things like automated transcription support and shareable whiteboards. Those functionalities can make the experience much richer for participants, so organizations should consider offering some additional training to help users make the most of their existing systems.

I also see AI having greater influence in cloud-based communications. We may get to the point where bots have the capability to be a useful part of these conversations, such as putting content in front of conference call participants based on words that are spoken during discussion. If someone references a presentation that was given last month, the bot could pop up the slides from that presentation in a side panel.

Many enterprises turned to cloud during the pandemic. How might their uses evolve as we move into the recovery period?

I still think we’re on the upward rise, where people finally realize you can maintain productivity when people work from home. Most sales organizations were already set up that way but now companies with other types of workers can also do it, and WFH is probably here to stay. Given that largescale transition, I expect to see cool new technologies out there three or four years from now that we hadn’t even dreamed of before, as people take advantage of developing on more open platforms.

What emerging cloud services, tools, or features are you excited about?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are advancing, and more things are being automated. The quality of conversational machines and bots is so good now. Even if you know it isn’t a real human, the interactions are already extremely intuitive. I’m looking forward to the day when you think you’re having a conversation with a human, where it understands analytics and your sentiment. But even then it will still know when to take you off that machine and send you to a customer service representative without waiting for you to ask.

Something like that is a cloud deployment from the get-go. It requires a lot of compute power to understand sentiment and to develop analytics. The power of cloud will help the development of those capabilities tremendously and also improve the value from a customer experience and an employee engagement experience perspective.