We sat down with the industry’s most major unified communications as a service (UCaaS) providers to get their vision and insight into what’s next for cloud-based communications. It’s no secret the UCaaS industry has seen drastic adoption over the last few years, and with the explosion of COVID-19, the technology saw an even further uptick in use. What’s on the horizon for UCaaS? Read on to get the scoop from the industry’s leading vendors.
Innovative: What’s the next step in the evolution of business collaboration?
Nextiva: Migrating from Skype to Microsoft Teams was a natural progression for businesses. The next evolution of that environment is unifying voice into the collaboration platform an organization is already utilizing every day for group chat, video meetings, and scheduling. Embedding a resilient, full-featured, cloud communication platform like Nextiva into MS Teams introduces the voice reliability and collaboration that growing businesses need.
Innovative: What makes Nextiva’s solution different from other providers’ solutions?
Nextiva: Unlike other providers that simply use a web plugin or API call, Nextiva’s direct route Teams integration embeds our trusted voice capabilities within every MS Teams app and interface: desktop, tablet, web, and mobile. This ubiquitous interface across all devices simplifies the user experience – pairing Nextiva’s reliability with MS Teams’ productivity, and it becomes a critical factor for O365 administrators looking for a seamless and consistent deployment across complex environments.
Innovative: What are some differences you’ve noticed today versus last year in UCaaS-buying conversations?
Pax8: The UCaaS conversation has dramatically changed over the past 18 months. The conversation used to be, “What kind of phone system do you have today? Let’s talk about a strategy of moving that to the cloud.” The new conversation is, “What kind of collaboration platform have you standardized on? Let’s talk about a strategy to fully voice-enable that experience.”
Collaboration Workstream platforms like Teams are the biggest disruption to the UCaaS space in the past decade. Microsoft Teams is the undisputed leader in that space as evidenced by its dramatic increase in user adoption – outpacing every one of its competitors.
Innovative: What should partners do to get a leg up on these conversation changes?
Pax8: Forward-thinking partners must have a purposeful, collaboration-first strategy that will enable them to differentiate and to win big. Partners have to get proficient in this new language and start driving new conversations with their customers.
Innovative: How have you seen the pandemic change enterprise collaboration?
EvolveIP: There’s no doubt that “life after COVID” will be far different from the world we knew only a few short months ago. In fact, a recent report from Morgan Stanley predicts that full-time, work-from-home employees will reach 46% of the global workforce long after COVID-19 is behind us! That means that we’ll all be relying on workstream collaboration to replace costly business travel and expensive real estate, and one of the big winners is sure to be Microsoft. Not only have they “owned” the desktop for the last 40 years, Teams is included with virtually every subscription of Office 365. And while Microsoft serves over 90% of the Fortune 100, they’ve also seen the number of daily Teams users mushroom from 32 million before COVID to well over 75 million active daily users.
Innovative: Can you describe how peoples’ expectations for communication technology are changing?
EvolveIP: The core value proposition of both Office 365 and Teams is that you live inside of the application whether you’re accessing it from your desktop, the internet, or your mobile device. People are not going to leave that experience to make a phone call, but they are going to expect the same telephony experience that they got from their legacy PBX. They will expect access to things like contact center, receptionist, CRM integration, paging systems, and call recording. They can’t get them from Microsoft, but they will expect access to these voice applications inside of Teams! That is precisely why Evolve IP chose to deliver a native, platform-level integration between MS Teams and our Cisco Enterprise Telephony platform. Not only does it live inside of Teams “all the time,” it combines the collaborative power of Microsoft Teams with the reliability and experience of the world’s largest telephony platform – Cisco.
Innovative: What’s RingCentral doing while the “new normal” of remote work environments prevails?
RingCentral: The new work-from-home (WFH) and work-from-anywhere WFA environment introduces scenarios where RingCentral can supplement businesses’ collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams. From a user-level perspective, RingCentral Video enhances a Teams solution by ensuring high quality levels of performance. Our history of delivering best-in-class PBX platforms and advanced feature sets ensures the highest level of audio and video performance so users don’t experience jitter, latency, or other anomalies.
We offer multi-level IVRs, executive assistant bridges, barge/whisper, and other call controls to meet the demands of dynamic call flows. And we open up easy content sharing capabilities with non-employees via the RingCentral App. From an enterprise IT perspective, we simplify system deployment and administration for businesses in multiple ways. You don’t need to be a tech guru to implement standard processes like user set-up, moves, adds, changes, and admin permissions.
Innovative: Are you offering anything specific for multi-site businesses?
RingCentral: For enterprises with many locations, we offer easy, multi-site billing administration, advanced cost-accounting codes for accurate tax and financial reporting, detailed reports for usage and performance and – perhaps most importantly – a single-vendor relationship for software and carrier services. Avoiding the headache and hassle managing third parties for national and international calling plans is something any business can appreciate. Additionally, our global footprint across 140+ countries (including EMEA, LATAM, APAC, China, and India) removes international communication challenges. Many of our customers can set up an employee overseas – complete with dial-tone, a local digital line, phone number, file sharing, and video meeting capabilities via our softphone in less than 10 minutes. That’s the advantage of adding a six-time Gartner Magic Quadrant UCaaS front runner to the mix.
Innovative: How are you addressing the needs of the contact center today?
RingCentral: For today’s on-demand environment where COVID-19 is testing every company’s customer service capabilities, we enable a modern, super-responsive customer experience with RingCentral’s call center, social media, and predictive dialing solutions. This adds a new level of integrated CCaaS and UCaaS benefits that go beyond pure-play collaboration and video meeting tools. Ultimately, RingCentral understands that there are a number of great solutions in the market, and we’re all about giving customers choice, performance, power, and flexibility. And we do it by providing one platform for all of the above that works on any device, any OS, and any browser for the new work-from-anywhere business world.
Interested in exploring how to bring these top-tier UCaaS solutions to your customers? Contact Innovative today.