In the second Q&A in our series, we asked ShoreGroup’s CEO, John McCarthy, about emerging trends in IT infrastructure management and operations.
Q: Beyond collaboration and contact center, what other areas of IT management is ShoreGroup getting involved with?
A: Today 50% of our revenues come from collaboration, specifically Unified Communications and Contact Center. The other 50% comes from wireless, security, digital infrastructure, and so on. Therefore, the ability of our customers to be able to use a single tool for a broader range of their IT infrastructure offers an enormous benefit.
Let me put this in context. One of our customers is a world-leading electronics brand. They have a requirement for IT asset management, above and beyond just UC Collaboration alone. They already use five applications to manage the infrastructure, so the last thing they want is a sixth tool just to manage their UC. Our goal is to give them fewer tools and greater visibility. And now I think every one of our customers is facing a similar challenge.
Another challenge that we see emerging is managing the Internet of Things (IoT). It has extensive security issues, with extreme ramifications for security breaches. So, from a monitoring standpoint, we need to be able to look at the data and make the security issues stand out from the standard network and IT infrastructure issues.
This could be potentially interesting to hospitals, for instance. They've got a lot of devices on the network and it’s critical to make sure they are keeping services running and operating at an optimal level. If you think about all of the security reporting tools that are out there and all of the IoT data being generated, I think the Internet of Things is going to be a challenge that our customers will be tackling for some time.
Q: It seems like the core solutions you offer could be mission-critical across many verticals.
A: Yes, that’s very true. Here’s a good example. Through a partner, we worked with a hospital in a major city that was recently hit by a flood. It has a contact center that is an integral part of their business. It relies on state-funded programs that have some tight SLAs associated with them. And if they meet those SLAs, they stay in the program. If they miss those SLAs, it costs them money.
They knew of our reputation for contact center operations and contact center support. After the flood, we deployed our partner’s monitoring platform, our ShorePatrol IT managed services, and on top of that, our Operate services. We delivered these services on an operational basis that gave them a layer of cost certainty and access to skill sets they wouldn't usually get. They also wouldn't get access to these types of resources with a traditional break/fix remediation service. It's a high touch model.
This layered combination has completely changed their IT Operations Management. Now they have a solution that's monitored 24/7, it's purpose-built for their contact center, and they get to root cause and problem correction faster than they ever did before.
Our rollout was extremely quick. And not only that, they have the ability to gain access to SMEs in Contact Center that they couldn't get from their pre-flood solution. So, the combination of our partner’s platform and our services and expertise has delivered a solution to a critical healthcare need. It’s our favorite kind of anecdote.
Q: Those high-end customers are beginning to take advantage of your new adoption practice. How is that going?
A: It’s coming together nicely. We’re learning that IT infrastructure platforms have statistics that just need to be exposed. I have two examples to share:
First, a major financial services company, who is an existing customer of ours, has made an enormous investment in video infrastructure. Their senior IT management and finance teams are looking to obtain data that explains how those video endpoints are being used. For example, are they being used efficiently? Are they being used enough to justify the expense?
The IT group wanted to be able to call on the statistics that reside within the infrastructure-monitoring platform and pull those out. They wanted reports. Now I'll tell you, there are no out-of-the-box reports for this. But by working with our partner, we were able to create a report for them that satisfied that need. This lends itself to this whole concept of adoption—we can provide you with a solution that tells you not only when it breaks, but how it’s being used.
The second instance concerns a major media company. They invested in approximately 3,000 WebEx seats a year ago. Now, we don’t monitor WebEx, but this is representative of the point I'm making about these investments. Once they buy stuff, they need to make sure that the end-user community actually uses them.
About four or five months later, I asked the CIO, "How's it going with the WebEx rollout?" He replied, "It sucks. I'm still getting bills from our other conferencing service. I can't get my end users to log onto WebEx."
I responded, "Well, just shut down that conferencing service." He answered, "I can't do that. The business units bought it. I don't own that contract."
I continued, “I think we could help you there. It's probably just a function of the fact that people won't take the time to learn how to use it. They just need to see the benefits of it.” He replied, "I'd pay you to do that."
I then said, “In fact, that is the whole genesis behind the creation of our adoption practice.”
And one more note on adoption—of course, we’re helping our customers move to the Cloud as well. I believe the Cloud provides an upside for everyone.
Q: What role do people and technology play in collaboration platforms? What's the mix of technology and people, and what can ShoreGroup and its partners offer on the people side?
A: I hate this answer, but it's true—it just depends. From a management perspective, the ShorePatrol platform will free up resources, so IT can focus on more strategic projects that help move the business along. It’s better than what they’re doing today, which is simply read and react.
Ultimately, we’re going to make the ShorePatrol platform a bigger portion of our deliverable. It will be able to make IT more effective and have a cost benefit to the organization. That means you’ll have fewer tools, and also the ability to be able to have one person handle what two people are doing today—and have that second person go off and work on strategic initiatives. It's the do-it-yourselfers first versus the outsourcers.
At the same time, the “people” side becomes even more important. If the customer is migrating to a new solution, we can help them maintain existing systems while they work on their migration project. If you're moving from Avaya to Cisco, for example, but your people aren't up to speed on that technology, we can get that new deployment going while the existing staff catches up.
One last thing—when we’re working with these customers, we always discover ways we can help them take the data, and not just use it for monitoring and management, but also use it in other ways that can have a positive impact on the business.
We can see if it’s affecting the business from a standpoint of cost. Or we’re able to understand what's going in their networks so they can be more proactive about adding capacity, for example. We can help them see another level of information that lets them use it in a different way, like driving business decisions. This is a real value-add that our customers appreciate.