2020 has been an exciting year, for each of us as individuals but also for Cavell as a company. Now that it is wrapping up, we thought it would be nice to have a look back at the year that was, and how we as a company and the industry handled this year, which will go down in memory as unique (hopefully).
Starting in January planning was in full force for our first event of the year, the Cloud Comms Summit in London. In the run-up to the event, of course, we started to hear the rumblings of the crisis that would define our year and change how we do business altogether.
CCS London was the last in-person event the telecoms industry would see for a while. Even there we had one company absent due to COVID-19 concerns, and it was the day before Cisco banned all their employees from travelling. So, it came in just under the wire, before events became not recommended, and then banned.
At the event, we talked about the changing workplace, and the future of remote working, subcontractors, and automation. Little did we know these things would become even more of a reality a few weeks later. We also talked about broader customer demands and how these are driving M&A as companies grow to try and meet more of their customer’s needs. Finally, we spoke about Mega Cloud Competition and the threat posed to CSPs from competitors like Microsoft, something that has only grown more realised as its Teams application experienced drastic growth in the year that followed.
Speaking at the event in February, we did not appreciate that we were on the cusp of more significant and more rapid change than we could have predicted.
Revisit our Cloud Comms Summit Keynote - Has the year matched our predictions?
Cavell also launched its new branding at the event, updating our look, ideology, and strategy to match the new decade, to provide companies with the expertise to turn ideas into action. This part of our mission statement we have lived up to in 2020.
Leading on from CCS London, into March and proper lockdowns across the globe, we moved into a massive industry-wide scramble to get all the technology (software and hardware) that workers needed to work from home. What had been a slow trend of 5% or so of employees working from home most of the week per year, turned into a massive 30-40% increase, as some entire industries moved their employees’ home. Zoom went from being an outlier to a household name, matching the likes of MS Teams for users and awareness.
As April came around, we started to see the missteps that had happened in a rush to remote working. The various security and compliance problems created in the wake of such a massive shift would plague both service providers and their customers throughout April and May (with some issues persisting even now). Yet, according to our enterprise research (undertaken in September), most companies had solutions in place or had providers that could help. Very few ended up taking on new providers, and most of these were to run alongside their existing providers to have backup and redundancy.
April also saw the continuation of Cavell’s training programme, where new network engineers were taken on as interns and then trained up to go on and work for some of the best vendors/enterprises in the market.
In June, at Cavell, things stabilized more, but were not without issue. We as a company already worked from home, but as many home workers will tell you, getting out of the house after work is part of what makes it bearable. So there was an increased strain on our employees as we faced the prospect of a summer of solo-outdoor activity, closed venues, not meeting friends, and limited interactions. Like many companies, once we had managed the initial practical responses to COVID, we started looking at what we could do better. From weekly video calls to converse and swap TV recommendations to sharing hobbies and discussing other activities, the summer both here and at the companies we spoke to was about employee wellbeing rather than just enabling productivity.
Interesting conversations were had about different home working patterns and attitudes to voice calling when dealing with introverted versus extroverted employees. There were also discussions about the appropriate time to have a meeting, how long you could expect an employee to stay focused while working from home, and flexible working hours became more common than they had before. Many companies thrived in the home working environment, reporting that productivity increased as they focused more on goals and let their employees have free reign. Other companies tightened their control with technology to track user activity and complex company policies to guarantee time-spent-at-desk. Whilst these might have worked for some, most people we spoke to reported that stress from those solutions reduced productivity and cited that cultural and management issues had been the biggest challenge due to COVID-19.
June also saw the launching of our new CCS Invest event. Our events continued throughout the year, though only virtually as our talented events team found a great online platform to host our events and managed to build a great agenda and run things smoothly, despite not being able to meet in person. CCS Invest created a platform for investors who wanted to learn more about the Cloud Comms space, which given the number of M&As this year must be a large number of companies. One highlight for attendees was indeed the in-depth discussion by Q-Advisors of the Microsoft Metaswitch acquisition, which conveniently happened close to the event!
August saw the year continue much as it had so far, with lockdowns being implemented and lifted as needed across the world, and cloud comms adapting to this ebb and flow naturally at that point.
September was a highlight for us as our annual US event; CCS Washington joined our long list of virtual event achievements this year. With a packed agenda, great speakers, and great attendees, whilst it did not match the feel of meeting rooms and cocktail events at a big hotel near DC, it at least had the same industry learnings and insights that attendees have come to expect from Cavell.
We took this energy into October, with the launch of our new Cloud Networking Summit event. Here we brought together the best the networking industry has to offer to discuss a packed agenda covering everything from SDWAN to security.
We wrapped up the year in December with our European event series and the entire week with a different event for a different market every day. We spoke to audiences in France, Germany, Spain, and the Benelux countries and brought great panels and discussions in association with local industry bodies to each region. Every country has followed roughly the same trend of the shift to home working. However, some markets like France predict a significant return to the office whilst Spain and Germany see this as a change that will never go back.
So as we close what has been both an difficult but also busy year for us here at Cavell and the industry, we are optimistic about 2021. There will always be large amounts of movement and exciting things happening in the comms space, and we expect that 2021 will see even more (though hopefully not driven by a crisis like 2020 was). Look for articles with our thoughts on what to expect next year over the coming weeks and thank you for being with us in 2020!
Looking for more thoughts from Cavell in the Networking space? You can download all recordings from our recent Cloud Networking Summit for free on our analysis page, via the button below.