Windstream Enterprise made a key move by integrating its OfficeSuite UC and HD meeting applications with Slack.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

July 19, 2019

10 Min Read
UC Roundup

8×8 made headlines this week with its plans to enter the global CPaaS market by acquiring Wavecell, a Singapore-based CPaaS provider, for about $125 million in cash and stock.

Wavecell‘s CPaaS is a large-scale, well-recognized platform for providing text, messaging, voice and video APIs globally to both enterprises and developers. 8×8 already is a top provider of UCaaS and CCaaS.


451 Research’s Raul Castanon-Martinez

So can 8×8 make a big splash among CPaaS providers? We turned to Raul Castanon-Martinez, 451 Research’s senior analyst of workforce collaboration, and Jon Arnold, principal analyst at J Arnold & Associates, for their perspectives.

This is 8×8’s largest acquisition to date and Castanon-Martinez expects it will have a significant impact in the market.

“While other players anticipated this trend earlier, this is a significant transaction that should help 8×8 close the gap with key rivals Vonage and RingCentral, who already provide similar capabilities,” he said. “It should also allow 8×8 to accelerate its CPaaS road map, incorporating programmable communications into its existing portfolio.”

However, Arnold isn’t expecting 8×8 to make a big splash in CPaaS, at least in North America.


J Arnold & Associates’ Jon Arnold

“Among CPaaS pureplays, Twilio still dominates, and when added on like 8×8 is doing, it will likely be more of a complement to other offerings,” he said. “In that scenario, it will be harder for 8×8 to move the needle with CPaaS, but as the offering becomes more established in-house, 8×8 will be able to leverage its brand to make a stronger play here.”

CPaaS is a very competitive market with the likes of Twilio and Nexmo, Vonage‘s API platform, leading the space, but it’s also growing fast and expanding into different directions, Castanon-Martinez said.

“For example, Twilio is aggressively targeting marketing and customer engagement,” he said. “Vonage is targeting customer engagement, but is also adding CPaaS capabilities into its UCaaS offering. Incumbent providers like Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE), Avaya and Mitel also have CPaaS in their product portfolio. It’s very competitive, but I think 8×8 can leverage its leadership in cloud communications to become a leading CPaaS vendor.”

Twilio likely will remain dominant, however, there are limits to their developer-centric model, and it remains to be seen how successful they will be with large enterprises, which is where the big money is, Arnold said.

“As players like 8×8 add CPaaS, there’s less pressure on that piece to carry the business, but also great upside by having a more complete portfolio,” he said. “8×8 is still growing rapidly, so there’s a solid built-in base of customers to drive CPaaS revenues. If that continues, 8×8 could become a major CPaaS player, especially with the new AsiaPac footprint that Wavecell brings them. Now they have direct access to the largest region globally, and one that seems well-suited to the kind of applications that CPaaS enables.”

There are two vectors to consider here, Arnold said. First is …

… how Wavecell gives 8×8 the “triple-play package” that most cloud providers are going to market with now: CPaaS, CCaaS and UCaaS. That’s a really strong lineup to address the full gamut for both customer experience (CX) and employee engagement — two things that are now very strategic for end customers, he said.

“The second vector is about their path taken to CPaaS,” he said. “8×8 differentiates on the basis of developing their technology and platforms internally. Just a few weeks ago, they announced their homegrown contact center entry, giving them an in-house double-play with UC. Perhaps it’s fair to say that CPaaS is simply moving too quickly and 8×8 didn’t have the luxury of building that internally along with contact center. Being Asian, Wavecell may not have been on too many people’s radar in the United States and, if so, kudos to 8×8 for taking a global view to find the right fit for CPaaS. At least by acquiring Wavecell, 8×8 can now say they fully own all these big pieces, making this a more holistic approach, and next-best thing than by partnering with a third party for CPaaS.”

There’s been a surge in M&A activity with CPaaS-related deals in the last two years, and Castanon-Martinez believes this signals a shift from siloed, “one-size-fits-all’ solutions (UCaaS and CCaaS) and highlights the growing relevance of communications-enabled workflows for customer and employee interactions.

“I expect this trend will continue to drive further consolidation, with vendors looking to accelerate growth and expand their offerings by providing flexibility in the delivery of cloud communications services,” he said.

Predictive Analytics Key to Optimum Contact Center Experience

All six drivers of an effective contact center experience slipped in satisfaction from last year, according to CFI Group’s latest Contact Center Satisfaction Index.

The six drivers are: agent demeanor, agent communication, agent knowledge, agent effectiveness, agent empowerment and interactive voice response (IVR) system.

CFI Group said contact center managers should consider three areas to improve the overall customer experience:

  • Allow agents to solve customer problems. Those who reach an agent directly are 27% more satisfied than those who first reach an IVR.

  • Design better IVR flow to reach live agents, as 44% reach some version of IVR when they call customer service.

  • Make chat available for mobile devices, as 48% of those who try the company website before customer service visit with a mobile device.

TetraVX, a cloud unified communications and collaboration (UCC) company, said with customer loyalty and revenue on the line, contact centers need to quickly improve the experience they deliver to customers – achievable via predictive analytics. TetraVX works with VARs, master agents and wholesale partners.


TetraVX’s Becky Linahon

We spoke with Becky Linahon, TetraVX’s marketing manager, to find out more about why contact centers are coming up short with customers.

Channel Partners: Is it surprising to hear that customer satisfaction with contact centers is down? If not, why?

Becky Linahom: It isn’t surprising at all. How consumers interact with brands has been evolving for some time now. In the mad men days, creative ads were enough to capture the minds of consumers. Well, we are far from those days, and modern consumers have been numb to the marketing ploys we once used for some time now. Now, modern consumers expect human-to-human experiences with brands, not only just before the purchase but the entire duration of the relationship. Because that’s what it’s become: a relationship between brand and consumer.

The contact center plays an integral part in managing that relationship. Consumers want …

… personalized experiences that feel human. If I receive a text from my friend and then pick up the phone to call, I assume that the conversation won’t skip a beat. The question then becomes, why should my communication with, say, my phone provider be any different? Contact centers have been slow to evolve to meet these expectations and struggle to provide seamless, personalized communications across all the digital channels we find consumers today. It’s definitely time for contact centers to catch up because consumers sure aren’t slowing down.

CP: What is it that contact center providers aren’t providing their customers?

BL: Consumers want personalization. If you’ve been paying attention to TV spots recently you may have noticed a major push by Discover to bring humanization to their contact centers. Each ad features a consumer calling the Discover service center to ask a question. What’s unique about the ad series is not the products they’re providing but the representation of consumer and agent. They’re the same person. It’s a reflection of the expectations consumers have when it comes to their brand interactions. Contact centers continue to miss the mark when it comes to delivering personalized experiences for their customers.

CP: How can predictive analytics help improve the contact center experience? Can you give some examples?

BL: Predictive analytics uses current and past information to help agents anticipate potential outcomes and have more informed conversations, ultimately providing a personalized experience for the consumer. With predictive analytics, contact centers can pair customers with agents that are the most capable of addressing their needs. Using data points like customer history, satisfaction, preferences and the like, contact center platforms have been able to support the agent by crafting tailored messages that go beyond simply knowing the caller’s name.

CP: Is CX increasingly becoming a competitive advantage? If so, how?

BL: Today, great customer experience is expected. While I do agree that customer experience is a competitive advantage today, it won’t be for long. We’re on the brink of personalized CX being table stakes for a consumer to consider your brand. According to State of the Connected Customer, a research study completed by Salesforce, 67% of respondents have switched vendors for a more consumer-like experience. Delivering an excellent customer experience will become mandatory for brands that simply want to stay in the game.

Windstream Enterprise Rolls Out UC Integration for Slack

Windstream Enterprise‘s OfficeSuite UC and HD meeting applications now integrate with Slack, the business messaging and collaboration platform.

Austin Herrington, Windstream Enterprise’s vice president of product management, tells us the Slack integration provides partners with “yet another compelling reason to …

… sell our award-winning OfficeSuite UCaaS and HD meeting solutions.”


Windstream Enterprise’s Austin Herrington

“We know partners have a choice when recommending providers and our goal is to remain at the forefront of the cloud and networking technology spectrum,” he said. “The benefits of collaboration within an organization are many and that’s why one of Windstream Enterprise’s top priorities is to meet the needs of our customers by aligning ourselves with best-in-class collaboration tools. With this integration, customers will be able to extend OfficeSuite UC’s already-robust capabilities to Slack using the app’s native slash commands, thus enabling them to maximize their return on investments in both services.”

Enterprises are increasingly faced with the challenges of email mailbox overloads, attachment restrictions, lack of version control and vulnerability to safety breaches, making collaboration tools a favorable option to get work done, Windstream Enterprise said. By integrating OfficeSuite UC with Slack, Windstream Enterprise seamlessly is enabling companies’ employees to connect for uninterrupted communication and collaboration. For example, customers can launch an OfficeSuite UC call or virtual meeting from within a Slack channel.

Poly Phone Series Interoperable with Ribbon’s Latest Application Server

Poly, formerly Plantronics and Polycom, this week announced its VVX desktop phones will be part of the largest VoIP deployment in U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) history.


Poly’s Darrius Jones

Ribbon Communications, which just released the latest version of its application server that is tested and certified by the DoD Joint Interoperability Test Command’s Defense Information Systems Agency, includes support for Poly’s VVX phones. The JITC certification of Ribbon’s application server and its support of VVX phones will help the agency reduce operational costs and future-proof its investment in communications with more options to choose from.

“The application server certification allows end-users to maximize the security and interoperability of the Poly VVX phone series,” said Darrius Jones, Poly’s executive vice president of strategy. “This important integration ensures Poly’s solutions are seamlessly standardized with Ribbon AS 12.1 JITC certification as well as VoIP and video for a truly secure unified communications experience, which is crucial at the federal level.”

Read more about:


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.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like