Mergers and acquisitions have been very influential for driving innovation in UCaaS.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

October 29, 2019

10 Slides

In the world of unified communications (UC) and hosted telephony, if you’re not innovating, you risk falling behind your competitors.

In the first of our three-part series, “UCaaS/Hosted Telephony Spotlight,” we look at 10 innovations and trends that are giving providers a competitive advantage. They range from the merging of UC and contact center, to increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and facial recognition.

“Everything moves so fast and a vendor can fall behind if they’re not picking up on these things, and it’s the customers as well,” said Jon Arnold, principal analyst at J Arnold & Associates. “They don’t know how much they’re potentially missing by not getting all these things. Nobody can have every piece, certainly in-house. It’s becoming almost too late now to build new things from scratch. If you decide all of a sudden, ‘Oh, we’re going to add AI now to our conferencing application,’ and it might take you a year to build that out, it’s too late. You have to instead partner with someone who is already there because there are many choices that the customers have to buy with someone who already has it. So to protect your customer base, you have to find a way to be able to stay current.”

M&A has been very influential for driving innovation in UCaaS, said Raul Castanon, 451 Research’s senior analyst of workforce collaboration.

We recently compiled a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.


Arnold & Associates’ Jon Arnold

“A good example is Cisco, which has built its collaboration portfolio largely through acquisition, beginning with WebEx and Jabber 10 years ago and more recently with Accompany, MindMeld and Voicea,” he said. “Another interesting deal was 8×8’s acquisition of Wavecell, which should influence the company’s UCaaS road map with CPaaS capabilities.”

The customer is where the real pressure to innovate is coming from, said Rick Beckers, CEO of XaaS1 and member of the Channel Partners Editorial Advisory Board.

“As the younger generations move into and up through the workforce, they bring with them a familiarity with technology and an awareness that I would describe as ‘anything is possible’ because they have lived with tech devices all of their lives,” he said. “And they’ve seen that integration desired is usually achievable, so they move forward boldly and continue to knock down business barriers by using technology. UCaaS is just one of those innovation areas involving hosted communications. IoT is another communication innovation that, in my opinion, came from this same ‘customer demand’ pressure.”

The need for innovation has fostered more M&A, said Bryan Reynolds, TBI‘s director of sales operations, and editorial advisory board member. An example would be 8×8’s acquisition of Wavecell, he said.


TBI’s Bryan Reynolds

“Vonage’s acquisition of Nexmo allowed them to be an early player in CPaaS, RingCentral’s partnership with Avaya beefed up (even more) their already-extensive portfolio,” he said. “Vonage incorporating their purchase of into their solutions will have ripple effects on their capabilities to provide predictive analytics.”

“IT guys” increasingly are so stretched that all they can do is execute to keep the lights on, and when it comes to creative thinking and doing breakthrough innovations for their organizations, it’s getting harder to do that, Arnold said.

“So they tend to rely a lot on the vendors for that or through the channels to be on top of the next trends,” he said. “The enterprise buyers, I don’t think they’re the ones at the leading edge to say, ‘Hey, we know what’s coming next year, and so we’ve got to get that.’ I think it’s much more where the vendor and the channels can steer them. But even if we come out with this great new application, they still don’t really know if the market’s going to buy it. There’s a lot of uncertainty there, but you can’t afford to not try new things because you’re going to fall behind.”

Scroll through our list of 10 innovations below that are giving providers a competitive advantage.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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