Most of the US literally overnight became a remote workforce. What about 8×8 makes you a great partner, not just for us in the US, but for customers around the world?

The world sure has changed and it certainly isn’t just domestically. I live in South Florida, and it’s almost like for us during hurricane season that a hurricane hit the entire world at the same time. 8×8 is a global company, and so we have 17 data centers all over the world –– everywhere from the US to Asia-Pacific, with tons of customers and partners in between. Our three major hubs are the US, the UK, and Singapore, and so for us, it’s a global business. We don’t do deals typically that are domestic only. Even US-based companies have ties overseas, and this was a global issue as things hit, but we’re a global company, so we could handle it.

One of the really unique things that I found out recently through working with your team is that you actually have some local DID presence in China, which was news to me. Can you tell me a bit about that?

We have the DID availability in Beijing and Shanghai, Shenzhen, really, across that entire region. We have a data center in Hong Kong. The cool thing about our service is you don’t need MPLS, you don’t need a VPN. We’ve had a presence there for many, many years, and so we do a lot of business out of there. We acquired a company called Wavecell out of Singapore, which gave us our CPaaS application. Doing business in the Asia-Pac region for 8×8 is pretty standard stuff.

One thing I found interesting is that you had about 27 press releases across a seven-week timeline. It felt like there was one happening every couple of days. Many of those have been around how you guys are enabling tele-education and telemedicine, and 8×8 released a step-by-step guide called Telemedicine and Mobile Capabilities For Care Providers. Can you tell me how doctors are using 8×8 to serve their patients better during this time of crisis, and is the solution meeting the HIPAA compliance needs that you see out there in the healthcare space?

Telemedicine is really, really important throughout the world today, COVID isn’t picky. It doesn’t matter your economic standing. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in. It creates issues for many doctors throughout the world. We’ve been requested, on the fly, to set up contact centers within hospitals in a matter of hours  all over the world.

For 8×8, the number one thing is we’re HIPAA compliant, so no matter what happens, no matter how we conduct business or how our customers conduct business with us, it’s always under that HIPAA compliance tent. We’re providing things like remote consultations for doctors, remote post support from a telemedical perspective, enabling patients to join sessions with just one click and using high definition video, audio, and so forth. All these things are really important today when you’re diagnosing not only something like COVID, but all forms of home health care.

I don’t think things are going back to how they were. I think people are getting used to that and feel comfortable with it. I remember about 10 years ago when somebody said to me, “Hey, JD, it’s Christmas time, and you no longer have to go to the mall to shop for your family and friends. You can just do everything online.” I was like, “What? Do everything online? Are you crazy? There’s no way I’m doing that. I got to go to the mall. I got to go fight the traffic. I’ve got to go out and shop.”

But now, I can’t imagine doing that. I can’t imagine not buying my gifts on Amazon and instead heading to the store or at the mall, and so I think it’s the same kind of thing that applies throughout our industry, especially in medicine. I think sitting here in my home in my bed under my covers with my thermometer and my slippers on and being able to talk to a doctor and say, “Hey doc, I’m not feeling well. Here’s what’s going on,” and just talking just like we’re talking now is key. I don’t think we’ll return from that.

One of the most interesting things about a challenge like what we’re dealing with today is that people step up to the challenge and they create some innovation that makes you come out the other end a better place than where you started. Prior to COVID, I think doctors resisted a little bit of telemedicine, and now it’s a common part of their practice.

There’s a commercial I see all the time about how a hospital has adopted Microsoft Teams, and overnight, they had thousands of doctors on the Teams platform. One of the things that you’ve announced recently is 8×8 Voice for Teams. Can you talk a little bit about how it’s different from getting voice-enabled Teams from 8×8 versus just native Microsoft Teams? What’s the difference, and what’s important to customers to know?

If you’re a Teams customer and you love Microsoft Teams, you love that GUI interface, you love that touch, you love that feel. What we’re able to do is use the 8×8 reliable secure platform that has all parts of telephony, not just the collaboration piece. We have the voice piece. We have the video piece. We have a contact center. We have the CPaaS, collaboration, all those kinds of things, but customers are used to the Microsoft Teams interface, so we have a direct integration with Microsoft that’s very different from our competition. Our competition uses Chrome add-ons, plugins, and all kinds of things.

We have a direct route interface, a piece of our technology that integrates behind the scenes, and so what we’re basically doing is enabling voice for Teams customers and opening up the entire cadre of 8×8’s application platform stack. We’re seeing customers just fall in love with this because they’re getting the power of the 8×8 platform and all the tools that come behind that, but they’re not losing that GUI interface with Teams and all the productivity that they’re used to. It’s being adopted outside of medicine, outside of education, and customers are going crazy for this. We just did a webinar last week. We’ve got one coming up studying records just for attendees, so I know customers are very interested in this.

The power of our platform and the ambiguous nature of Microsoft is a great combination. We’re really proud of our engineering team in getting this done, and looking forward to more and more good days ahead.

Overnight, the world shifted to remote education. Parents became responsible for getting our kids logged on to classrooms, and the teachers had to modify curriculums to deliver something that was relevant and try to keep people’s attention. Now, we’re a couple of weeks into summer vacation and we still have no idea if kids are physically going back to school in two months. 

8×8 released a guide of five steps to conduct a virtual lesson to help educators with that transition and I found that really impactful. Teachers are out there doing the best they can in a situation that’s just not easy. Tell me a little bit about what 8×8 is doing in education and how you make it easy for teachers to administer? How do you keep it simple for my second grader to join in a secure way?  

The number one word in education is security. We want our kids to be able to have a great experience and continue to get educated in a secure environment. Security is critical, and the cool thing about the 8×8 product is that it’s encrypted, which a lot of our competitors are not.  We went from 49,000 subscribers in January to almost 30 million today.

It’s impressive and crazy and we didn’t skip a beat. It’s easy to use. First and foremost, it’s secure. It’s free to our schools and to our educators. There’s no time limit and it’s very intuitive. We’re setting up schools in countries like Italy where 30% of the country is using the platform. We’re standing up schools here in South Florida, in Northern California, you name it. Our platform has been adopted pretty quickly.

Initially, there was a little bit of a panic and the need to jump on a solution immediately.  Our kids got a secure environment for learning; however, when that smoke started to clear, folks are beginning to look more closely at our platform and say, “Oh, okay, this is pretty cool.”It’s business as usual from an education and teaching perspective, but they can record these meetings, the data is stored forever, and they can add telephony behind it.

For higher education, in the university world, they have to teach so many classes and prove that a certain number of students attended classes to stay accredited. It’s incredible what we’ve been able to do in the education field, whether it’s you and I with our elementary kids and high schoolers or it’s higher ed. 8×8 has really stepped up in that situation, and we’re seeing lots of success there.

It’s not just about making money for us. Yes, we’re a for-profit business, just like Bridgepointe, however, helping these students, watching these teachers teach these kids in a secure, reliable environment — there’s just nothing like it.

Every time I do research around 8×8’s video solution, this thing called pops up. What is, what’s the relation with 8×8, and how is that a big part of your video platform solution?

Jitsi comes from a company called Atlassian that we purchased in 2018. Jitsi is just 8×8 Meetings. It’s the technology that we acquired to really build our main platform on. That’s where we got our secure video conference. That’s where we got our secure video application from that Atlassian purchase. In other parts of the world outside of the US, we’re still getting the brand out there around 8×8 Meetings, but you’ll see, Jitsi conferencing, and Jitsi video conferencing powered by 8×8.

It’s all the exact same thing, but we were able to take that core technology, its open source, and build our standards in place to call it 8×8 Meetings. You’ll see that end-to-end encrypted meetings platform throughout the world. Eventually, the Jitsi brand will go away and it would be just 8×8 Meetings across the board, but Jitsi’s very well-known in Europe. It’s hard when you acquire a company to extinguish that brand when so many people know about it.

One of the things that I’ve always liked about 8×8 (and what I find customers like too) is that every piece of the solution is yours. You acquired Jitsi and it’s yours. The contact center is yours. The video is yours. The telephony is yours. You operate all the data centers worldwide, and when you talk about an end-to-end responsibility, you’re controlling the solution, controlling the cost structure. There’s a lot of good that comes into ownership of the entire solution. I’d love to get your opinion on how you see that making 8×8 unique in the space because a lot of other people aren’t in that situation.

Again, it goes back to the platform. It’s very, very unique to know that you represent a company that’s a cloud-based platform that hits voice, meetings, contact center and CPaaS. Through a few acquisitions and our own engineering efforts over the last six years, 8×8’s been able to come to market as that pure cloud solution. It’s not a hybrid. It’s not an arcade piece of hardware or metal that we had to convert into some cloud platform in a cage somewhere. It’s ours. We invented it, and so for us, a lot of our competition got a head start on us. That’s the truth. We’re an engineering company.

Five or six years ago, a lot of our competitors said, “Hey, we’re going to partner with this one. We’re going to partner with that one. We’re going to use this one for contact center. This one’s for a meeting platform.”But then what happens? Divorces are inevitable, and so a lot of these companies decided to go their own way, and if they’re a meeting platform, they add telephony, if you’re telephony, you add meetings. If they’re a contact center, they add both, depending on what that is.

8×8, got out of the gate a little bit slower because we put together our own unique winning platform eight years in a row and we’re in the Gartner Magic Quadrant as a leader, as well as six years in a row as a leader in the contact center quadrant. We’re the only company that can claim that and all of that technology is ours. It allows us to be cost-competitive. It allows us to really stand behind with one hand to shake on what we’re bringing to market, and we’re going to continue to bring it to the world through great partners like Bridgepointe. We love it.

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