Alan Foy, Starblue Group CEO (Blueface and Star2Star Communications), sat down with Cavell’s Matt Townend to discuss the global Unified Communications as a Service landscape.
Alan also shared his thoughts on what customers – from carrier to end users – are seeking from a UCaaS platform now and in the future. You can listen to the podcast above or read the transcript below.
StarBlue is a global Unified Communications or Enterprise Communications business. It’s actually a portfolio company that is a result of a merger between Blueface in Europe and Star2Star Communications in North America.
We have a business in Starblue that is really focused on two areas.
One is enabling service providers to launch Unified Communications as a Service or Cloud Communications offerings, that’s a global business, and then, particularly in the mid market enterprise base or Star2Star Communications business is really driving that North American mid-market.
Where are you seeing both yourself and your service provider customers the biggest opportunities in the market?
Great question! Starblue is very much focused on two of what we believe are the largest single biggest opportunities in the marketplace today.
- Service Provider Enablement: To allow Service Providers to launch a Unified Communications offerings to their existing customer bases with simple onboarding and we see that opportunity as a global one, around the world. We’re seeing service providers, hardware companies and software companies want to get in the cloud communications space and launch an offering and it’s driven by a few factors.
For Service Providers, user cloud adoption, the PSTN Shut Down – are some of the many drivers but really we’re seeing rapid growth in global markets – particularly in Asia, some parts of Europe and indeed in South America.
- Mid-Market Enterprise Customers: These customers have a slightly more distributed footprint and a complex set of needs but again have woken up to the need for cloud communications and it’s core fundamental integration in the business process.
We’re seeing two fundamental trends both of which are very strong catalyst for growth.
Are you seeing any change in the end customer focus?
Foy: It’s definitely depends on the end customers target size you’re servicing. A lot of the service providers were enabling or target the SMB market opportunities which are really 100 extensions or seats or below.
Really, their experience is all about an integrated experience, ease of onboard, it’s the digital journey that’s making that whole experience as seamless and painless as possible.
Throughout the mid-market enterprise space, we are seeing way way more sophistication around the integration of business process and cloud communications and how basically you have to fundamentally almost rewrite your business processes to basically leverate a lot of really amazing tools that are out there.
We are definitely seeing more complex requirements in the mid market but it’s more about the integration of cloud communications into those processes.
What are the sort of processes and issues are CSPs considering with respect to platform and future competitiveness?
Differentiation. Service providers are genuinely focused on how they can differentiate.
We see a lot of service providers now trying really understand the unique offerings in their portfolio and trying to bring that together with cloud communications. This must be done in a way that is defensible, creates differentiation and, importantly, creates customer value stickiness.
That could be very simple things, it could be from a Mobile Carrier integrating their mobile service through IMS with the cloud communication piece. It may be a Network Operators who are introducing the SD-WAN and other offerings as a part of an integrated, secure deployment model.
A cloud communication platform alone isn’t even table takes for global and large service providers any more.
Alan Foy, Starblue Group CEO
It’s really how it’s integrated into your overall offering and how do you differentiate. I think that it’s about differentiation and it’s about how you add on your existing capability to an offering, ease of doing that, ease of deploying it and the ease of ensuring a really good customer experience.
What are Carriers Seeking with Respect to International Services?
It’s interesting you say that, because actually, over the course of the last 12 months I’ve seen in a lot of RFPs – be they kind of large enterprises or indeed, service providers – international capability seems to be a fundamental query.
Increasingly customers and service providers in particular are more aware and cognizant of their need to service global business.
Where once it (international features) was requested, it is now increasingly demanded from service providers.
That’s in many ways born by the fact that their own existing customer base, be that business customers that operate, even SMEs operating on a global basis.
International capability, and that’s not just about numbers and origination, termination of traffic, it’s really about localization in terms of languages, emergency access and all capability set around that. Where once it was a request, now it is increasingly being demanded and it’s definitely where a lot of the convergences are happening around the space.
Benefits of Attending CCA / Cavell Group Events?
Starblue and I get a lot of value from the events. Cavell / CCA events are a forum for industry network leaders and executives who can share best practices and impart lessons learned. These events really help each other chart a course for the future strategy for their own businesses but also the space.
The participation of you guys (Cavell), and indeed some of your other colleagues, is great because it really adds the layer of research, the fundamental analysis field.
For example: What’s going on in the space, key trends and the catalysts for some product decisions we may also have to make.
The combination of the research driven agenda and a really great content from some of those network executives and also just the ability to socialize and meet with your peers is a really really great thing, I’m a big fan of the summit and a big fan of attending and supporting. I recommend it to everyone who hasn’t been.
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