Khali Henderson of Phone+ and I are doing a webinar tomorrow for agents at TCA on The Cloud. One of the TCA Board Members, Emmet Tydings, President of AB&T Telecom, sent me this response:
"Voice is just another application in an IP world. Mobility is mandating a large portion of strategic service delivery changes within organizations. The consumerization of functions/applications in the business environment was accelerated with the iPhone and Facebook, but has moved far beyond just the momentum of those platforms in the last 12 months. Young workers in particular expect their employers to deliver the ability to work in at least as easy and accessible a fashion as they are already able to do their daily activities. Simultaneously and instantly collaborating and communicating with peers should not suddenly cease when they attempt to operate the same way with their work peers. Organizations need to enable their users while at the same time also providing security and control in such a way as to be helpful to the company while not being restrictive to the users."
"The need for visibility and control of applications is paramount for organizations taking functionality to the cloud. The ability for management to see what users have and what they are being billed is one important piece, but being able to move, add, change and delete those users on the fly is potentially more valuable. Enabling users to make changes themselves can be liberating for the users and more cost effective for companies. The ability to access a range of applications or functionality with a single login is essential for efficiency and security (i.e., many users just leave their applications logged in and exposed instead of logging out because they don't even know their user names and passwords for multiple applications)."
"The ability for companies to expand the functionality for a user with one tool is unprecedented in the cloud. The ability to take a UC user and let them upgrade to CRM, mail, desktop productivity, or virtual file server is dramatically more efficient than platforms of the past and present."
"The ability to work and communication anytime, anywhere on any device is where the bar has been raised for the efficient worker today, but few organizations have the true ability to operate this way because they have not embraced the cloud to its potential for these very things."
While I agree with Emmet on many points, that doesn't change that the Agent Community will have a hard time fitting into this space. Why? Three reasons.
(1) They are not Net-Heads. Most still think TDM, T1, LD, replacement services. Most agents don't even sell Conferencing which is the first voice app delivered as a service!
(2) You have to drink the Kool-Aid to sell this stuff. You have to embrace it. That means you have to actually use cloud apps and Hosted PBX to sell it. Not many do.
(3) The knowledge set to learn is huge. There's no clear way to get the proper knowledge. VAR's and Agents aren't solid in the belief that there will be space for them in the future (so why spend the time).
There is demand already for Hosted PBX (ask Speakeasy or Packet8 selling it online); SAAS is a proven market (ask Salesforce.com); and Cloud apps pop up all the time (ask Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, et al).
Apple is building a $1B data center in North Carolina with 1 million square feet. Do you think they are gambling on cloud? How about all the data centers that Google and Microsoft have built? How about the expanding data center space being built by all the colo facilities?
You may have to morph your current business to sustain but change is inevitable.
You may hear a lot of No, due to corporate controls, regulations, fear, etc. But you will get ink on paper because businesses aren't buying bigger pipes just to get on Facebook.