Why Microsoft Operator Connect Is Hot Right NowWhy Microsoft Operator Connect Is Hot Right Now
A UC industry veteran says Operator Connect extends the flexibility and scale businesses today seek.
August 9, 2023
Steve Forcum is a longtime industry unified communications and collaboration (UCC) veteran, having spent the last 11 years with Avaya. Toward the beginning of 2023, Forcum made a career change, moving to the startup world.
Now, he serves as director of program management at Sippio. As the name suggests, the startup is a carrier, which gives it a unique perspective on the subject matter at hand today — Microsoft Operator Connect. Previously, to penetrate the market: you had to be a carrier like AT&T, meaning considerable partners could not profit from Operator Connect.
That has changed following the launch of Sippio’s Operator Connect for partners, which lets the channel leverage the company’s network to create various custom solutions — which Forcum calls an industry-first.
Operator Connect is essentially Direct Routing but easier, all done from the user interface of the Teams client. It is far more flexible and much less convoluted to deploy, enabling companies to quickly scale their phone needs without building out individual systems and adding numbers one by one.
Increasingly, there has been what feels like a mass saturation of Operator Connect offerings to flood the market, with firms like Sinch, Dstny, and GTT all doing as much in recent months. It would appear that Operator Connect is gaining a lot of traction.
Why Operator Connect, and Why Now?
Forcum attributes that traction to Teams Phone, which has 80 million daily active users, saying, “If you use Office 365 and need to support a remote workforce – become an entrenched workforce – you look to offerings like Operator Connect.”
Sippio’s Steve Forcum
“During the pandemic, customers using Teams, in an era of austerity, where layoffs were more prevalent, the natural question was: Do I need to keep spending on a phone system?” he added.
The conversation, Forcum tells Channel Futures, has shifted, and businesses no longer see voice as something to buy but as a feature to “switch on.” Now, organizations are looking at the phone system and saying: “It had its time, but now it should be a feature,” Forcum noted.
“It follows the same life cycle of the history of technology; take the iPod, for instance. It started as a physical device,” said Forcum. “Today it is an app on the iPhone.”
There are various channel partner opportunities as well, he noted.
Promising Channel Partner Landscape for Operator Connect
Case in point, Forcum claims that unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) momentum is “dead,” with a growth rate of 11%. Furthermore, he says Microsoft Teams Phone garners 45% year-over-year growth, making way for what Forcum calls a “good opportunity for partners.”
We recently compiled a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.
There is one issue with Operator Connect — it freezes out a large part of the channel. You have to be a carrier to extend Operator Connect services. That is until Sippio launched Operator Connect for channel partners.
It lets them leverage the startup’s infrastructure to sell Teams Phone using a fully automated doorway into that ecosystem. For the legacy channel, hopping on the Operator Connect train is somewhat problematic. They are interested, Forcum told us, but hasn’t been a realistic option.
Now they can leverage the ability to turn on Teams Phone via a fully automated process, with no need to resell. And partners can wrap core offerings with services around deployment and training.
“That becomes more lucrative for channel partners, with higher-margin pro services without needing to resell supplier direct routing services on top,” Forcum told Channel Futures.
Today, there are more than 60 carriers in the Operator Connect ecosystem, including Verizon Business, Pure IP, AT&T and Bandwidth, to name a few. Now it appears that the market can expand following the launch of Sippio’s partner program, which breaks down massive barriers to entry for partners once shut out of revenue prospects with Operator Connect.
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