Marc Andreessen once famously said that software is eating the world. And with the rise of cloud technology and software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, it appears as though software might also be eating traditional revenue and service models of large enterprise companies.
“More and more of our customers are choosing to switch to a subscription model,” said Mitel Chief Marketing Officer, Wes Durow. “And in that world, response matters.”
A telecommunications company with customers in more than 100 countries, Mitel touts itself as one of the fastest-growing cloud communication providers. Speaking to DX Journal after the SaaS North conference in Ottawa, Durow said the move to cloud is changing how companies engage with customers, and businesses need to be aware of how customer relationships shift with the rise of as-a-service models.
“When you buy something every seven, eight or nine years, you’ll sign a longer contract and probably put up with some ups and downs,” said Durow. “But when you’re paying on a monthly basis for a service, you want short contracts, immediate response time, and a stream of new features pushed out to you as part of your subscription.”
Companies are quickly adopting as-a-service (aaS) offerings because of major cost savings and simplified integrations.
With cloud computing, for example, companies can dramatically reduce the physical footprint and cost required for in-house IT infrastructure. But when you engage a vendor and pay for services on a monthly or short-term basis, the nature of the business relationship can change as a result of many more touch points.
“The move toward Software as a Service or SaaS-based solutions has been well documented across customer, employee and financial data applications,” said Durow. “The unified communications segment now has more than 10 percent of the North American market choosing Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions versus on-site options.”
Mitel says UCaaS customers represent more than one million total users for the company, and that it has “substantially” more private cloud users.
“As customers move from intermittent transactions toward monthly UCaaS subscriptions, we have had to change how we design, deploy, bill and manage these services,” Durow said. “Further, we are also growing our customer success organizational capability so we can counsel and support these customers, in partnership with our channels where pertinent, to help guide them forward as they seek to add new features or intersect UCaaS capabilities with other SaaS services.”
Durow believes that responsiveness will be a key success metric for anything offered as a service.
“It’s all built around this transition from a transactional relationship to an experiential relationship,” said Durow.
Multiple industries are embracing the new service model. A recent Navigant Research report finds that Energy-as-a-Service has the potential to reach a global market of $221.1 billion by 2026. ServerWatch reports the Infrastructure-as-a-Service public cloud market is blowing up and revenues could scale from $16.8 billion in 2015 to $22.1 billion today.
For Mitel, acting on rising demand required the company to embrace a wide array of new technologies. The company used Salesforce for both internal and external tasks. They also rewired operations using Workday and adopted chatbots to boost demand-gen and service support processes.
“In our category, the number one differentiator for a brand is responsiveness,” Durow said, adding that the central focus with as-a-service offerings is the customer and their needs.
“The best companies that are really driving digital transformation speak very clearly about the problems that are solved, and they do it in a way that demystifies the technology. It doesn’t make it feel like they have to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to get there. People want to leverage what they’ve got, have someone knit it together for them and do it in a way that helps solve a business problem.”
Amazon rival Rakuten buys mobile ordering and pickup startup Curbside
Rival to Amazon and Japanese retail giant Rakuten has acquired Silicon Valley mobile ordering and pickup startup Curbside. Details of the all-cash deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition could be a boon for the Japanese e-commerce company.
Mobile solutions for brick and mortar businesses
Founded in 2013 by former Apple engineers Jaron Waldman and Denis Laprise, Curbside has a suite of features that deal with all aspects of mobile commerce for restaurants and brick and mortar retail stores. Their most popular feature, ARRIVE, tracks customer’s journeys to predict when they’ll be approaching and arriving to have the product ready in an instant.
In its suite, Curbside’s offers programs that build online stores, fill online orders in-store and grow store traffic.
According to Tech Crunch, the terms of the “all-cash” deal were not released. Curbside has previously raised between USD$40 and $50 million from investors like CVS, Index Ventures, Sutter Hull Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Chicago Ventures
According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Curbside was valued at more than USD$100 million in 2015 during its last venture round.
Part of the family
In the press release from Curbside, co-founder and CEO Jaron Waldman writes, “For our customers and partners the headline is that nothing will change. Curbside will operate independently as a Rakuten-owned company with our team, services, partners and product offerings all remaining intact.”
Yaz Iida, President of Rakuten USA, Inc said in a press release “Welcoming Curbside to the Rakuten family is all about the consumer, and we are excited to be able to empower consumers with even more ways to enjoy shopping.”
Mario Pinho, CFO of Rakuten, welcomed Curbside “to the Rakuten family” on LinkedIn.
Earlier this year, Rakuten announced that it’s building a customer loyalty program based on blockchain technology, and building its own cryptocurrency, Rakuten Coin.
How brick and mortar grocers benefit from digital transformation
Brick and mortar grocery retailers have the potential to adopt artificial intelligence to help with stocking their stores, pricing their products and being competitive with online retailers like Amazon.
Michael Feindt, the founder of AI firm Blue Yonder that specializes in helping retailers adopt AI to change how they carry out their core processes, wrote an article in Silicon Republic about how grocery chains can use AI to operate smarter.
With online grocers rapidly adopting AI, Feindt writes that it’s important for brick and mortar retailers to “move beyond their legacy infrastructure and adopt the technologies of digital transformation.” These technologies include AI and machine learning.
Revolutionising warehouse #technology.#video #tech #supplychain #business #manufacturing #innovation #innovate #AI #artificialIntelligence #Robots #Robot #Robotics #Grocery #Shopping #Ecommerce #VR #ML #MachineLearning #MachineIntelligence #Infosec #Fintech #Data #DataScience pic.twitter.com/UDSrLJNqcw
— Orcan Intelligence (@Orcanintell) June 2, 2018
To stay competitive in a market that’s increasingly focused on consumer satisfaction, Feindt writes that adopting AI can help grocery chains stock their stores more efficiently in an effort to reduce waste and ensure customers get what they want, as well as price their products according to real-time data on deals and promotions offered by other stores.
“Is this the Future of Retail?” – This grocery store actually comes to you. Awesome idea! pic.twitter.com/yp5R7QE7G1 #retail #AI #retailtech #DX #custexp #4IR #IoT #mobility #tech #MachineLearning #innovation
— Sean Gardner (@2morrowknight) June 2, 2018
Feindt writes that stock and pricing in brick and mortar stores — two traditionally human-led domains — need to start using the data they have, and use AI to help process that data.
Paul Clarke, the CTO at Ocado (the company behind the grocery robots shown earlier) told The Telegraph that AI is “critical” to the industry, and where it’s heading.
“From our point of view artificial intelligence is the one to rule them all when it comes to the set of disruptive technologies that power our business and we already make extensive use of machine learning across our platform,” said Clarke. “But really we just think we’re getting started.”
It’s also easier than ever before for grocery chains to go beyond self-service checkouts and start using AI to optimize business, below is an infographic detailing 65 tech startups that use artificial intelligence, virtual reality… etc to usher grocery store operations into the future. This list is packed, but it’s not exhaustive.
— CB Insights (@CBinsights) May 30, 2018
From using AI to combat food contamination to giving allergy-sufferers peace of mind when shopping to programming shopping carts to follow consumers around the store, there are endless ways that AI can enhance grocery operations and produce tangible results.
Mozilla announces grants for projects on how AI affects society
Mozilla recently announced the creation of seven new five-figure grants for “technologists and media makers who help the public understand how threats to a healthy internet affect their everyday lives.”
Under their “Creative Media” awards track, Mozilla is offering a total of $250,000 in awards comprised of two $50,000 awards ($47,500 award + $2,500 MozFest travel stipend) and five $25,000 total prize packages ($22,500 award + $2,500 MozFest travel stipend). Mozilla says they’re specifically looking for projects that focus on AI and machine learning.
Mozilla wants these grants to go to researchers who can help the public to better understand how threats to a “healthy internet” are impacting their lives. These projects can be presented in a variety of mediums such as videos, games, browser extensions and data visualizations.
To be eligible for this award, projects must already be in-progress, at either the conceptual or prototype stage. They also have to be “freely available on the web,” have the ability “to be broadly shared,” and must include “privacy-respecting mechanisms.”
This isn’t Mozilla’s only project that has the aims of teaching people more about the changing face of technology.
— Justin Searls (@searls) June 3, 2018
From briefs to explainers to graphics, Mozilla has been attempting to make it easier for people to understand how things work.
DNS has been leaking parts of your browsing history since the beginning of the web 😱
— Lin Clark (@linclark) May 31, 2018
Applications for this grant are open now and close on August 1.
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