What is The Future of Enterprise Communication?
Updated: Aug 12
Telecoms is the Rahul Dravid of the digital world. The silent and reliable foundation for flamboyant front-end apps and analytics that get all the good press.
But the power, influence and profits of telecoms are greatly diminished and investors are cagey about putting their money in the pipe business. According to McKinsey & Co.’s ‘A Blue Print for Telecom’s Critical Reinvention’, the share of the top 25 global telecom operators vs. the top 8 internet companies had shrunk to 40% in 2019 compared to 74% in 2014.
Globally, enterprise is nearly 50% of the total telecoms spend though in India this is much lower at about 25%. And there are structural changes underway in enterprise communications. I believe we are at the beginning of a radically new paradigm.
Here, I’m sticking my neck out about the future of enterprise communication:
1. Unification of Communication
Telecom veterans grew up analysing voice, data and VAS as separate lines of business. Enterprises entrusted voice to their admin folk leaving data to the better qualified IT teams. That began changing about 5 years ago. With VoLTE, Zoom/Teams/Webex, the boundary between data and voice is vanishing fast. The end of IUC has nudged this further. Legacy rules meant to protect state telcos’ termination revenues are the last few walls standing between a complete convergence of voice and data.
Impact: Expect more data-like pricing structures for voice heavy services, clubbing of voice and video and the emergence of collaboration platforms as the new voice service providers.
2. Hybrid Networks
In the last 2 decades, enterprise networks evolved from point-to-point circuits to a mesh of MPLS VPN. But the underlying philosophy did not change. That is, centralised-fully controlled-closed systems with huge Chinese walls between the external world and enterprise WAN.
Now, the need for real-time 2-way data flow with customers, suppliers and other clouds has become indispensable. Closed architectures such as MPLS were not built for this kind of communication. Gartner predicts that 40% of enterprise end-points will be connected exclusively on internet by 2025. Organisations will officially abandon all attempts at keeping their VPN cloud like a closed system and embrace a hybrid architecture consisting of multiple systems that integrate well with one another.
Impact: Expect broadband internet players to play a significant role in enterprise communications going forward. LEOs, 5G, Wifi-6 will accelerate the change.
3. Access of Applications at the Edge
SASE is fast becoming popular. Enterprise WAN networks will be expected to be smart in handling application requirements within the network itself. Think of this as intelligent pipes that not just transport data but also dynamically help it get processed while in motion without having to get it to a central place. SD WAN and NFV is enabling this. As enterprises refresh their network inventory, edge based network intelligence will transform end user experience with data and applications quietly in the background.
Impact: Network management function in enterprises and at telcos will need to change significantly to support business expectations.
4. Emergence of the New Managed Service Aggregator
As networks become hybrid and complex, the role of the network manager is becoming a lot more challenging. It is no longer about monitoring the performance of dedicated circuits from a few service providers. The complication of on-field multiplicity of technologies, providers and devices requires new tools and an overlay service management infrastructure that is both online and off-line.
Impact: A new breed of service providers is set to emerge to help provide secure, predictable and reliable network performance across geographies, across myriad last mile providers and take the accountability for a better application aware network.
At Axon Networks, we are gearing up for the enterprise networks of tomorrow by partnering with service providers and technology companies to power digital innovation based on a robust network of connected stake holders.