Deciding which technologies to implement or what areas to explore can be a tiresome process for companies. How do you really know which technologies are going to benefit your business most? This can be a difficult process, and can result in some major losses if companies miss out on the next big thing. That’s where companies like PKE Consulting LLC come into play. PKE consults to end users and vendors in the communications and networking markets and, most importantly, has a vast amount of knowledge about both technology and business processes, making it an ideal candidate to help your business make the right decisions.
At the head of PKE is Phil Edholm. Phil is the organizer of the WebRTC World Conference & Expo, the global eco-system event for WebRTC. He also has over 30 years of experience across the development of Ethernet, IP, VoIP, SIP and now collaboration and Unified Communications, making him qualified to provide consulting services for projects in both enterprises and vendors. In fact, Phil is recognized as an industry expert in VoIP, networking for real-time usage, Unified Communications, and business models for technology adoption.
Clearly, Phil has a lot of great advice to give, and companies can undoubtedly learn a thing or two from him. Luckily, for those interested, Phil we be at ITEXPO, which is being held Feb. 8-10 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. There, he will be participating in a session titled “Real Time Web Communications – The Next Revolution,” held Feb. 8 at 9:30 a.m.
To prepare for this exciting event, TMC caught up with Phil to discuss the hottest trends in tech right now, including UC, AI, VR and more. Our full exchange can be seen below:
How have technology changes over the past 12 months helped businesses grow?
Clearly the use of on-line capabilities is increasing business velocity. From the on-line retail model that continues to grow to using the Web for support has accelerated business. The transformation of traditional communications, from wimple telephony to the advanced features of UC and Collaboration, continue to enhance the business, reducing costs and making business more responsive.
What does the term Collaboration mean to your business?
Collaboration is the full range of capabilities beyond a simple phone call that are enabled by the new technologies. This includes screen, app, and file sharing, multiple modalities including text and video in addition to voice, as well as new capabilities like team collaboration. While basic collaboration is about the event, team collaboration is about an extended time domain of contextual interactions with a full range of tools to maximize the effectiveness of the overall workstream.
What elements of Unified Communications are most useful for your company?
In our day-to-day use of collaboration technology, screen sharing and video are the most important aspects. Video is critical, as many of our interactions with clients and partners are early in the relationship, so the visual feedback of video can be critical. As much of our work involves innovation and creating context, the ability to share information dynamically during an online meeting is critical. The capability to use text as a precursor to a meeting is also important, while presence is less valuable in our environment.
Are you using messaging technologies to communicate with your customers? How, or why not?
We use a full range of messaging technology, including Skype for Business as well as WeChat. Depending on the client or partner, messaging is a common way to interact. The key is tuning your interaction to the partner. However, email remains the largest messaging application in our arsenal as it is both universal and accepted.
How can artificial intelligence best be used in business applications?
While the industry term “Artificial Intelligence” is the hot buzzword, the reality is that “Adaptive Intelligence” is more appropriate for today’s business applications. AI can provide two major values in today’s world; as an extension of support and services applications, it can automate much of the customer response system, minimizing outcomes that require human interaction. This can be extended to audio bots as well. In the world of UCC, I see bot-based agents managing availability as well as a full range of value added services. The ability of AI to automate much of what humans are not good at is critical. However, I foresee challenges as AI further reduces the need for human capital, increasing the societal stress of employment issues.
How will augmented/virtual reality by used in business environments?
Clearly augmented reality (AR) has a wide range of uses, from field service to retail (providing a salesperson with information about customers based on RFID tracking for example). The business applications of VR are less well defined, but could be very interesting in creating new engagement strategies. The challenge with VR is that a user must choose between being in the VR “world” or the physical world at any point in time, potentially creating an issue. I see a time when the VR and physical worlds are conjoined into a continuum that enables users in both “worlds” to freely interact in a relatively natural way.
To what extent are you leveraging APIs to enhance business opportunities?
APIs are the new products of the cloud age. All of my clients are working to either deliver APIs or exploit them in their new developments.
To what extent are you using cloud services in your daily business processes?
Cloud delivery is a critical part of both our internal solutions as well as the solutions we are developing for our clients.
How has the growth in the managed services market impacted your business?
As a consultant to the industry, we have worked both with vendors and channels to assess the challenges of the emerging cloud models on the traditional VAR business models. We continue to work with all parties to define how to manage the overall business structure and relationships in the changing world.
What are your thoughts on containerization technology as an alternative to traditional virtualization?
Containerization is the next stage of the ongoing evolution of programming to take advantage of the ever increasing capacity of systems driven by Moore’s Law. While traditional virtualization focused on deployment costs, containerization not only can impact deployment, but also development costs. Containers and the emerging micro-services models for applications development are accelerating innovation and new solution delivery.
What emerging technology has the potential to have a disruptive impact on businesses in the coming years?
Overall, AI and the automation of activities that typically required a human will have the largest impact on businesses. Over the last 25 years, automation has dramatically increased productivity, while shrinking the labor needs for the operations. This has increased stress as employment has dropped. AI has the potential of eliminating millions of jobs, many of them well paying. In communications, the emergence of the real time Web and moving communications directly into the application or business process will dramatically change the market. Telephony will increasingly be seen as old school and the traditional telecom space will be increasingly challenged for value and capability.
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?
Channel partners need to move beyond providing basic telephony and become partners for their customers in using the new technologies for success. This is a challenge because the skills required, from sales though delivery, are different and it is challenging to grow into the new capability set. Clearly, moving to a business partner role requires new skills, education and more.
What is your session at ITEXPO about and who should plan on attending? Why should this be a must-attend session for the week?
I am focused with the TMC team on the Real Time Web Solutions Virtual conference and on the session about using the Web for real time communications. In addition, I am doing a session on the challenges of the cloud for channels and how different vendors models generate profit (or lack thereof) for their partners.
What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO 2017?
Meeting old and new friends and working across the industry to help drive and manage the transitions to cloud, API based communications, and the Real Time Web.
To hear more from Phil, be sure to check out ITEXPO, the communications and business transformation event of the year, in February.
Edited by Maurice Nagle