Unified Hope for UCaaS

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Unified Hope for UCaaS

End of year buzz around unified communications (UC, UCaaDS, Hostd PBX, Hosted UC) is ramping up. All part of the predictions and trend watching for 2016.

First, I have a shout out to my bud, Alex Doyle for this very nice video (commercial) for VZ UC&C. I have no idea if he is pitching the Cisco HCS platform or the Broadsoft VCE that he spent years sweating over.

Apparently, Forrester is predicting that UC's sell by date is the end of 2016. Like milk, UC is will go sour in the next 12 months. So much for all that talk about CAGR.

I will agree with this statement: "It is how a vendor uses UC technology that will influence the next wave of enterprise communication and collaboration." It is all about UX -- the user experience. That is 3 steps after the sale - deploy, train, adopt.

The case study company "Cresa saw high adoption of its new UC system because of the system's flexibility to allow individual users to customize the service to fit their needs while maintaining uniformity across the organization." The case study talks about Integration.

The problem with HPBX has been that other than click-to-call there really wasn't much integration. The providers are moving past them with acquisitions and alliances (like 8x8 and Fonality with Allstate and its practice management software).

I keep seeing the staggering growth rates predicted for VoIP -- it only happens if you count SIP trunking. UC is not growing that fast. Evolve IP surveyed businesses about UC. The results were anything but hopeful.

"Most of the professionals who responded to the Evolve IP survey didn't even know what "unified communications" means." [CRN]

Two-thirds of respondents said their phone was the tool they preferred to contact colleagues! So much for the death of the desk phone in the near term. ITSPs aren't exactly pushing soft clients and mobile apps with bluetooth and headsets. No idea why -- but they aren't. Most ITSPs are still Polycom distributors with a softswitch.

The problem for buyers of UCaaS: "The most prominent was simply the challenge of selecting the right system, cited as a major obstacle by 22 percent of respondents. An additional 17.5 percent said selecting the right provider was a major obstacle, followed by 16.5 percent who cited employee adoption, and 13.5 percent who cited determining feature priorities." NOTE: selling UCaaS is HARD! The buyer has to like the salesperson, listen to the salesperson, trust the salesperson, trust the service provider and believe that the service will help them and be deployed as promised! That is a lot to overcome!


"More than 80 percent of the organizations polled by Evolve IP host their own phone systems, but that's changing." More than 10 years and the premise PBX is still 80%! AND "only 16.5 percent said they're planning a move to cloud-based" <- that is less than the predicted CAGR

Don't get depressed yet. Remember as I wrote earlier, just sell transactional network :)

Then there is this hopeful piece from CP interviewing Broadsoft, Vonage Business and Coredial:

"Seventy percent of respondents believe cloud UC/PBX will capture at least half the SMB sub-100 employee market within five years, and expect 200 percent cloud UC growth for midmarket and in excess of 300 percent cloud UC growth for the large enterprise segment."

Expect, hope for, maybe some day. How much of that market will Cisco, Microsoft, AT&T and Verizon own? Probably more than anyone wants to admit in telecom. It is nice to hope and pray, but what ACTIONS will these providers take in 2016 to make deployment, adoption, User Experience and sales simpler?

"BroadSoft believes service providers will seriously challenge Microsoft's Skype for Business by offering an open, mobile and cloud-based UC and collaboration alternative with next-generation, real-time messaging, BSFT's Behbehani said." I'd like to hear HOW?

Collaboration tools like Slack, Glip and HipChat will significantly disrupt email usage. I agree with that. Millennials will be okay with that; older workers probably not. (They want to call co-workers.)

In another article, the prediction is that UCaaS will go Up-Market. I tend to agree since bigger companies used to high-end PBX and call center software will see cloud based contact center as a boon. They are used to feature-rich, high functionality AND Contact center -- a good fit for the UC&C providers that can match up with these enterprises.

There needs to be 4 things for UCaaS to grow as predicted:

1. Integration -- so it is more business functionality as a service and not just Hosted PBX. These are two opposing views of cloud comms. Plus it has vertical targets like with Allstate, CLIO, et al.

2. Training -- so much more training of users and sales teas is needed. And re-training annually for the customers and their employees. You need adoption to increase to reduce churn.

3. User Experience -- Slack took off - 2 million daily users in less than 2 years - due to its intuitive user interface. It isn't rigid. It has APIs. It integrates with other software. Flexible. Ease of use. Mobile and desktop. Much needed.

4. Better Targets. ITSPs chase the whole market. Each segment of the market wants a different story/message. Each segment has different hot buttons. No one provider can do it all. They have been trying and failing and failing and flailing.

I am invested in the cloud comm -- how many posts have I written about it; how many clients are ITSPs - but we are at a pivotal point in the VoIP industry. Some see it; some don't. Consolidation, MS, Cisco, Google, mobile, consolidation, automation and more factors are kicking in. Nothing is as it was in 2003 when BSFT's second customer rolled to market. Nothing.

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