Unlocking powerful analytics

Tony Martino, CEO, Tollring, talks to Comms Business about what the end of the pandemic era means for the company’s strategy and plans for the future.

Tollring’s data visualisation and business intelligence tools are used across the Channel to help manage, understand, and control communications information, resources and assets. With over 900 partners worldwide, Tollring’s channel comprises direct partners as well as indirect resellers and dealers.

Tony Martino, CEO, Tollring, told Comms Business that the company is looking to the future. Martino explained, “We’re coming out of this post pandemic era and it’s clear that all businesses have gone through their own story over these last 18 months or two years or so. It’s been an interesting but difficult journey for a lot of organisations but certainly, from the perspective of Tollring as a software developer, it’s presented to us a little shift in terms of how we’re seeing the future.

“Over the pandemic period, we saw some pretty exciting growth. We’ve had nearly a 60 per cent growth in our cloud business customers, which has been amazing. We’ve got around 17,000 end businesses using our iCall proposition, and that’s [been a source of] significant growth for us. We also provide cloud-based call recording services, and now we’re recording very close to 400,000 calls a day for our service provider channel partners.

“The other big thing that we’ve been focusing on is our global strategy. We’ve seen some really exciting growth in regions such as Australia and Europe, where we’ve seen a 50 per cent growth in our customer base.”

The technologies organisations need to thrive are changing. Martino explained, “Over this difficult period, we’ve seen a lot of people transition to cloud services. We came from an on-premise background – way back in the day – and we’ve been able to pivot and offer our services in the cloud. The big thing for us is: how can we align our analytics capabilities, not just within external collaboration such as customer engagement, [but to support people internally as well]?

“A lot of people focus on the contact center and customer facing teams – and that’s a very important part of the services that we offer around recording and analytics – but given how difficult it is to find good talent, hire talent, retain staff, collaboration is now a key focus. We’re extending our capabilities into the Microsoft arena a lot more. We want to empower a Microsoft story for our channel partners, and give them the ability really to add significant value into that ecosystem.”

Adding value to Teams

Martino explained that Microsoft will form a part of most conversations when organisations are examining their unified communications and collaboration options. He added, “We were fortunate to start our cloud journey with Microsoft and the Azure stack, so everything we deliver from a cloud services perspective sits within the Microsoft Cloud [environment]. We started delivering those services back in 2015 and, back then, the Microsoft Cloud ecosystem was not as evolved as it is today. Teams was nowhere to be seen. Over that time, what we’ve seen is this massive acceleration in its cloud capability.

“If you look at Microsoft’s revenues, one of its strongest revenue streams remains the Azure cloud stack. Now Teams is taking over the world and these are their two main revenue items. There is a play for all of our traditional telecoms service providers and partners to deliver a differentiating service into Teams.”

Channel companies need to be smart with how they engage with customers here. Martino said, “It is a question of: how do we actually add value to Teams? Rather than: is Teams something that somebody wants? We all sit here consuming Microsoft Teams at astounding rates, don’t we? And we’re now seeing Microsoft starting to open up their environment for third party software developers.”

Martino said that Tollring is investing in several areas. Firstly, across its Microsoft cloud infrastructure, certifications, research and development and product development within Microsoft Teams to ensure Tollring and its partners can keep pace with how the Microsoft ecosystem develops.

Tollring has also been investing heavily in its digital strategy. Martino explained the company has been dedicating resources to its API and single sign on capabilities, as well as to research and development and Tollring’s technical services office in India. He added, “These sorts of areas are where investment needs to lie, because users are going to want [technologies] that integrate seamlessly into the ecosystems that they are using on a daily basis.”

Remaining relevant

As for the future, Martino is upbeat. He said, “One of the key elements that we’re always considering – and we’ve been in business now for nearly 30 years – is remaining relevant to a changing market. The key to that success has been making sure that we’re always delivering relevant insights and relevant information to our audience.”

Martino expects Tollring to continue to “deliver relevant insights” that allow its partners and customers “to make strong business decisions”. Analytics, Martino explained, have moved from valued business tool to an expectation. People at all levels are demanding a level understanding into how everything is functioning. These new expectations open a lot of doors for channel companies to help their customers generate analytics, digest them, and deliver meaningful change.