The first three quarters of 2016 have been fast and furious for the telecommunications industry with new service announcements, feature enhancements, mergers and acquisitions.
Competition within the industry is fueling the development and the M&A activity.
The Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market has followed suite with the overall telecom industry. 2016 has brought new players into the space and seen consolidation among many providers. All are chasing the UCaaS growth opportunity. UCaaS is expected to grow from USD 17.35 Billion in 2016 to USD 28.69 Billion by 2021. The market is transitioning from the “early adopter phase” to the “early mainstream phase” for enterprise delivery.
According to Wainhouse Research the following are drivers for UCaaS adoption:
|Collaboration tools are replacing traditional telephony|
|40-75% of audio calls in the enterprise are conference calls – and its growing||75% of users communicate at work with 3 or more devices||75% of IT Decision Makers have multiple PBX vendors in production while 33% have 2 or more UC platforms.|
Keys and Barriers to Successful UCaaS Channel Strategy
The Unified Communications market presents a tremendous upside for channel partners as business moves toward unified enterprises and away from the silo’d enterprise. Successful UCaaS channel strategy will depend heavily on several key factors that are driven by customer requirements. First, customers are requiring more and more to develop unconventional integrations with other cloud applications they are utilizing today. The integrations need to be “seamless” and deliver a user experience that is intuitive. Customers do not have the patience or the bandwidth to develop and implement change management processes for these integrations to drive user adoption. They need to work well, install easily, and have a very low level learning curve even for the non-technical users.
In addition to unconvetional integrations, UCaaS providers must be able to meet custom solution requests and do so in timely manner, including integrations with proprietary systems and non-market leading cloud applications. As channel partners move up-market, the ability to deliver on customization requests will be critical for winning new logos. API’s are often requested by customers to integrate with their systems. The challenge with the current UCaaS market’s approach is that they publish the API documents and move all responsibility to the customer for developing against the API. Custom solutions that are developed in partnership with the customer will differentiate the UCaaS provider and channel partners representing the UCaaS provider.
The future of business communications are less voice-centric solutions than in the past, customers have moved to a true UC environment where video calls, video conferencing, and instant messaging are as important as voice and email. As noted in the statistics above, the majority of audio calls in the enterprise are conference calls and this evolution is increasing. Instant messaging is viewed by many enterprises as a significant productivity enhancement tool. They are more willing to give up their telephone than their IM. The sales strategy must keep this at the forefront of their messaging and communication with the customers that have yet to deploy a solution or have deployed a sub-par solution.
The trend with business communications remains true with contact center solutions. A comprehensive UCaaS solution needs to be able to deliver multichannel contact center services. Your customers are relying on digital communications like email, web chat and social media to interact with the contact center. According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage over 80% of their relationship with a business in the digital space without interacting with a human.
There are several barriers to increased UCaaS adoption that channel partners should be aware of and be prepared to address. Politics are a major barrier due to the displacement of hardware provider relationships, control of the decision and budget, and possibly the replacement of internal employees. Be prepared to work an enterprise opportunity from a different angle than traditional voice and data. In addition to Executive and IT support, you may need champions in various business units to promote or, at a minimum, not submarine your proposed solution. The second barrier is the business case. Developing a compelling business case for your customer will be instrumental in moving an opportunity forward. You are not replacing something that is obviously broken and the cost savings game is no longer compelling where you can compare current circuit cost with your proposed circuit cost. Also, remember the stats above on communication for the higher productive enterprises moving beyond phone and email. Finally, the customer’s network needs to be able to support the additional applications and this could present a delay or loss of an opportunity. LAN and WAN assessments may be required with the upside being new LAN and WAN solutions for you to provide.
CallTower Response to the Market
CallTower’s existence and core purpose is to enable people to easily connect to co-workers, customers, vendors, and partners with the device of choice and by the mode (phone, video, text, IM, email) they choose. We are in business to deliver industry leading technologies that solve customer challenges, improve productivity, and create a more efficient organization. CallTower has been fortunate to realize an 80%+ increase on our Microsoft user count over the past 12 months because we are not in the business of selling a product.
CallTower has been both forward thinking and responsive to the market. CallTower was the first provider to develop and implement a full integration between Skype for Business and Salesforce.com. By combining two industry leading technologies, UC and CRM, we have created a powerful business case for the adoption of UC. The CRM integration continues into the cloud-based contact center solutions with Salesforce.com and Dynamics integration.
In Q4’16, CallTower will be launching an evolutionary solution, Synergy. Synergy is an integration between Microsoft Skype for Business and Cisco. The integration enables enterprises to operate in a hybrid model, as well as, enable users to operate in a hybrid model. The enterprise hybrid model will be the channels first opportunity to offer a migration path to UC, or offer a custom solution, that is developed per office rather than a single UC solution for the entire company. The hybrid user, allows the end user, to continue to utilize their Cisco desk phone while using Skype for their IM&P solution with full integration between devices. Phase II of Synergy will be launched in 2017 to extend the integration to additional manufacturers such as Avaya.
With our in-house development and engineering team along with partner ecosystem, CallTower is well positioned to address custom requests for the enterprise customer. Recent customization requests include Skype for Business integration with HipChat and integrations with Slack. CallTower Connect is our proprietary platform that allows CallTower to develop solutions that may be a custom solution today for a single customer that we can turn into a product and make available to all customers via CallTower Connect.
CallTower recently announced the expansion of our Clarity contact center in the cloud service. In response to the growing requirement to move contact center to the cloud and to be able to utilize Skype for Business Online (Office 365) and Skype for Business On Premise, CallTower is launching a federated cloud contact center solution that is Skype native and integrates with Skype for Business Online and on premise.
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