Orange Business Services is seeing momentum build for its Cisco Spark collaboration platform, bringing aboard 20 multinational enterprise customers with almost 200,000 combined users signing on to the service.
Cisco Spark by Orange is being used by global enterprises that want a mobile workspace that can scale from a single seat to a collaborative environment.
The Cisco Spark service provides several collaborative features including team messaging, voice and video calling, online meetings, white board capabilities and a set of application programming interfaces (API) for workflow optimization across multiple enterprise applications.
Michael Burrell, global practice director of Unified Communications for Orange Business Services, told FierceTelecom that more enterprise customers are using the service.
“We started with Spark with Cisco as a partner in 2016, but this year we have seen really strong take-up,” Burrell said. “This year we have had 20 MNCs take the service with up to 200,000 users.”
Some of the customers already taking advantage of the service include a global mining company that is using Cisco Spark with WebEx and Spark Boards to enable collaboration.
Burrell said after conducting a proof of concept with the mining company, the customer has been extending the Cisco Spark service throughout various locations.
“The service just grew and started taking off to where we’re covering 24,000 of their knowledge workers with Cisco Spark and they have purchased over 100 Spark boards for one location,” Burrell said. “They are going to expand it with another 600 Spark Boards in London, Singapore and London.”
Featuring 24/7 support and seamless integration with its existing service management, Cisco Spark has enabled the enterprise to reduce costs worldwide using toll-free numbers and competitive rates on call back, while boosting end-user productivity.
Management and support
Being a large provider, Orange Business Services will provide necessary management and integration of the Cisco Spark platform into a customer’s enterprise network.
“We blend in with our services,” Burrell said. “We can manage it on behalf of the enterprise and we can integrate fully managed services around Cisco unified communications manager on premise.”
Like other providers, Orange Business Services is keen on taking advantage of the growing hybrid cloud trend.
The service provider can integrate various functions, including Cisco’s UC solution, integrate video conferencing or cloud connected audio.
“We can blend in a hybrid cloud scenario,” Burrell said. “Orange can supply the equipment as well as the services to have a full meeting experience within Cisco Spark.”
Spark can support various endpoints and be integrated with phone or video as well as the Spark Board, which is a 55 to 70-inch screen that can serve as a whiteboard, video or audio conferencing unit.
Burrell said that the Spark platform allows customers to not only attend live meetings, but also provide a playback for others that could not attend initially.
“You can do everything need to do during a live meeting, but everything is then captured,” Burrell said. “By using the Spark Board, you could share a presentation and that can be left in the space or room.”
Kicking the tires
To enable customers to try on the service, Orange has opened 11 Cisco Spark by Orange Open Labs. This network of labs provides a global mix of physical and virtual resources, which is designed to provide a dedicated space for innovation and development.
Initially, the labs will include eight major locations in Europe as well as Singapore and two locations in the United States.
Customers use the labs to integrate collaboration, connectivity, bot development and application integrations with the Cisco Spark API catalog. The labs provide a live software and API development environment between Cisco Spark and third-party applications.
Enterprises will be able to develop specific apps leveraging Cisco Spark by Orange APIs and integrate them smoothly into their business processes, maximizing efficiency and resources.
“The labs will be outfitted with equipment and access to the Cisco collaboration cloud,” Burrell said. “We will invite customers into the labs to go through a discovery process understand their business processes, a define phase that we can improve and enhance the process, and then explore how we can leverage this rich collaboration environment they use.”
A bank customer could create a bot to pick up personal finance documents in a secure Spark space, for example. Customers could also create a Spark space for specific customers where diverse teams from sales to marketing and customer service can access documents, chat or video conference with experts.
“The lab is the realization of something that’s been promised for a long time in the unified communications and collaboration space, which is communications-enabled business processes,” Burrell said. “Rather than the process being separate from the collaboration tools and applications, it becomes meshed in the process to improve the output of it.”