Three forces are driving homogenization of UC&C platforms: common features, a continuous surfeit of bells and whistles, and interoperability between competing platforms.
The need for in-office and remote workers to communicate and collaborate – and thus demand for UC&C platforms – will remain robust in the hybrid world.
Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) platforms are becoming homogenized. There are three forces driving this phenomenon: (1) a common set of features has emerged from the major players, including meetings, chat, calling, and events (some players have created an augmented core by also including contact centers and AI); (2) competitors are continually and rapidly complementing common features with a surfeit of bells and whistles (e.g., live reactions such as likes, enhanced lighting for video feeds, and polling); and (3) interoperability between platforms and cooperation between competitors are fast becoming the norm.
The integration enables collaboration between contact center agents and subject matter experts throughout their organizations.
The announcement reinforces trends around coopetition, contact centers, and linkage between UCaaS and CCaaS.
8×8 and Genesys announced that 8×8’s ‘Work’ now features integration with Genesys’ ‘Cloud CX.’ 8×8 Work includes enterprise voice, video meetings, and team chat capabilities. Cloud CX is a contact center offer that works across phone, email, chat, text, and social channels. The integration will enable contact center agents to collaborate with subject matter experts across an organization. Agents will access subject matter experts through a company directory, while those experts can indicate their availability to respond to customer inquiries. Agents will access both offers through a single sign-on. Both offers can be downloaded from either vendor’s app store.
• Essentials Starter parallels Microsoft Teams Essentials launched last December.
• Essentials Starter is consistent with the shadow IT movement that has recently gained great momentum.
Google has announced a free version of Google Workspace for business users named Google Workspace Essentials Starter Edition. In addition to being one of the most recent enhancements to Google Workspace, the offer is noteworthy for how it is positioned in the market.
RingCentral Rise represents a significant investment in the company’s relationship with service provider partners.
Rise is innovative in the way it combines technology, managed services, and a channel program to create co-branded UCaaS offers.
RingCentral has solidified its position in the cloud-based collaboration market. This has been largely driven by the expansion of its portfolio beyond its flagship chat service (Glip) to include conferencing, team collaboration, voice, and contact center capabilities. A separate but equally significant component has been the inking of partnerships with vendors ALE, Atos, Avaya, and Mitel and service providers such as AT&T, Telus, and Verizon. The recent introduction of RingCentral Rise represents a new branch of RingCentral’s go-to-market strategy and signals a renewed commitment to the company’s network of service provider partners. Continue reading “RingCentral Rise Helps Service Providers Bring Co-Branded UCaaS Offers to Market”→
WebexOne 2021 provided a window into how Cisco sees the hybrid workplace evolving.
Cisco has been aggressive in improving the Webex platform yet still faces intense competition.
Like its competition, Cisco has made supporting hybrid work the focal point of its cloud-based collaboration initiatives. But Cisco stands out as being especially aggressive in assembling hybrid work capabilities. In the past 12 months, the flagship Webex platform has seen more than 1,000 improvements. The latest round was dissected at the recent WebexOne 2021 event. The occasion served as not only a showcase of the latest and greatest from Cisco, but also a window into how the company sees the market evolving. Some of the key highlights are described below. Continue reading “WebexOne 2021: Cisco Paints a Portrait of the Hybrid Workplace”→
• Customer Experience as-a-Service (XCaaS) represents the integration of UCaaS/CaaS.
• The chief mission behind XCaaS is raising engagement between employees from all parts of an organization and its customers to optimize the customer experience.
Appearances can be deceiving. In the cloud collaboration market, 8×8 lacks the name recognition afforded rivals such as Facebook, NICE inContact, Google, Slack, or Zoom. But the company stands out as one of the first to offer UCaaS (focused on employee communication and collaboration) integrated with CCaaS (focused on contact center agent interaction). XCaaS, or “Customer Experience as-a-Service” could lift 8×8 from the pool of “wannabes” and onto the VIP list.
• Zoom has matured beyond its video-centric roots into a holistic UC&C player.
• Enhancements revealed at the annual ‘Zoomtopia’ event demonstrate just how far Zoom has come – and portend how far it may go.
In a short span of time, Zoom has jettisoned its video-centric roots and blossomed into a holistic UC&C player. But Zoom has not been content with resting on its laurels. Enhancements just announced at its annual ‘Zoomtopia’ conference represent a big leap forward. Zoom has arrived and then some.
• The best event platforms enable execution of hybrid events spanning in-person and virtual attendees.
• Event organizers benefit disproportionately from event platforms as compared to attendees.
When COVID-19 arrived, virtual meetings became de rigueur seemingly overnight. Almost as soon as vaccines began to be administered and a pandemic ‘exit strategy’ took shape, team collaboration platforms graduated from facilitating ‘meetings’ to enabling ‘events’. What features do event platforms typically possess and are these platforms worthy of accolades? Let’s find out.
Team collaboration platforms have expanded to include large-scale, multi-session events and conferences. Such affairs are reminiscent of the pre-COVID world when no one thought twice about jetting to destinations near and far to cram into hotel venue rooms or convention centers. The best platforms today reflect the need for some to join from the comfort and solitude of a home or office while others navigate crowds traversing miles of institutional carpeting stretching under their feet. Vendors such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom have invested heavily in fortifying their event capabilities.
• In combining UCaaS and CCaaS, XCaaS acknowledges that ultimately, employees from all parts of an organization jointly drive the customer experience.
• While the term “Customer Experience as-a-Service” sounds like a gimmick, cloud-based communication, collaboration, and customer service technology are firmly entrenched and will remain so.
XCaaS = UCaaS + CCaaS
On the surface, this equation may resemble algebra, trigonometry, or an amalgam of the two. But you won’t spot it in any mathematics textbook.
Instead, this summation depicts an alchemy that has arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has driven much higher usage of UCaaS (i.e., Unified Communications as-a-Service) and CCaaS (i.e., Contact Center as-a-Service) solutions which in turn has created a hyper-focus on employee communication and collaboration as well as serving customers. In combining UCaaS and CCaaS, XCaaS (i.e., Customer Experience as-a-Service) is an acknowledgement that every employee ultimately serves the customer, both those who are customer facing and those who are not, and facilitates communication and collaboration between those two universes to optimize the customer experience.