November 8, 2019
A large number of North American companies are going to be making the jump to unified communications (UC) during the next two years and will need help on their journeys.
That’s according to key findings from the North American results of Ribbon Communications‘ UC Market Insights survey. It asked technology decision makers representing nearly 1,300 companies in North America about their UC purchasing habits and plans.
Fifty-one percent of large companies, with more than 1,000 employees, and nearly 75% of smaller companies have yet to make the investment in UC technology. Of the companies that have yet to invest in UC, nearly 64% plan to do so within the next two years.
When looking deeper into those organizations that have not yet adopted UC technology, the research found the following:
Nearly two-thirds of large companies have a positive view of UC compared to just 32% of small companies.
When asked what the most difficult aspect of switching to UC would be, most companies cited disruption to business, training employees on the new system and previous bad experiences with switching from old to new systems.
Among all non-adopters, the biggest factors affecting the decision to switch to UC are price, provider, product and change event (age of system, contract ending, etc.).
Ribbon’s John Macario
John Macario, Ribbon‘s senior vice president of channel marketing, tells Channel Partners it’s likely that a variety of reasons are holding back companies from adopting UC, and some are going to be very specific to an individual company.
“Generally though, it seems many companies are hung up on a choice between an on-premises PBX versus a UCaaS solution,” he said. “Forty-two percent of large companies who have yet to adopt UC say they prefer a premise solution despite the fact that these same organizations have moved a large number of business functions to the cloud (Salesforce, Office 365, Teams, etc.). Their stated reasons for the preference are counter to what we would expect — 39% of the largest companies say they would have ‘more control’ and 23% say they would be ‘more comfortable’ with a premise system.”
Other key findings Include:
Those organizations that have already adopted UC services purchased them from traditional providers (34%), IT services providers (13%), cable providers (13%), equipment providers (13%), over-the-top (OTT) providers (10%), mobile providers (6%), competitive providers (6%) and phone resellers (5%).
Those companies that have yet to adopt UC services plan to purchase them from traditional providers (17%), mobile providers (16%), cable providers (13%), equipment providers (13%), IT services providers (12%), OTT providers (10%), phone resellers (10%) and competitive providers (9%).
Sixty-two percent of respondents have been the victim of an IP-based (robocalling, DDoS, toll fraud, etc.) hack attempt.
“The channel needs to do three things,” Macario said. “First, play an educational role to help companies make the best choice possible. Second, use consultative selling techniques to support the educational process. Finally, pay attention to the stated purchase drivers. One of the top purchase drivers for companies of all sizes is getting a…
…service level agreement that not only guarantees uptime, but also guarantees service quality. The channel can differentiate by offering a fully managed UC service that provides these guarantees.”
Large company needs are very different than those of smaller companies, he said.
“UC services must fit in with the overall IT strategy of a large company; small companies have no such concerns,” he said. “Large companies will care much more about how a service is managed, and what visibility they will have into service quality and issue resolution. Large companies generally have many more locations and will need a provider who can help them determine how to roll out the service. Ribbon and our partners are now actively engaged in a number of UCaaS deployments.”
The low UC adoption rates were “certainly a surprise,” but so were the high interest in UC and stated intent to deploy UC in the next two years, Macario said.
“Eighty-eight percent of large companies told us they were Interested, very interested or extremely interested in UC; 65% said they thought their company would adopt within two years,” he said. “This represents a tremendous opportunity for the channel. Channel partners who can offer assured services and scale to meet the coming market demand will be the winners.”
Evolve IP Touts Differentiated Strategy with Microsoft Teams
In the first quarter of 2020, Evolve IP is going to be offering its partners voice-enabled Microsoft Teams with full enterprise voice capabilities, including contact center later in the year. And this won’t be via a bot, plug-in or third-party app, but a native, fully-integrated solution using Broadsoft/Cisco and Evolve IP’s hosted PBX, according to the company.
Evolve IP’s Scott Kinka
Scott Kinka, Evolve IP’s CTO, tells Channel Partners the strategy runs counter to those of competitors in that they have proprietary collaboration solutions that would ultimately position Microsoft/Teams as a competitor or a competing internal solution.
“For us, this is a native use of the Microsoft stack that we are already engaged in distributing, reselling and supporting to do all of that, which is very different than saying we have a plug-in to the Teams client that enables you to use our meetings,” he said. “That is a very different strategy.”
Evolve IP’s voice-enabled Teams with full enterprise voice capabilities will provide new opportunities for various partner types, Kinka said.
“This is a strategy that MSPs will want to take advantage of because many of them are already engaged in selling, reselling and supporting Office 365 and Teams, but also our traditional channel partner, master-agent type of engagement as well because they’re engaged in the telephony conversation,” he said. “We’ve all been talking about this VAR-MSP channel and the master agent channels running into each other over the course of the next few years, and I think this is a nexus opportunity that’s going to drive some of that because you’ve got traditional agency telecom partners who sold the last hosted PBX or carrier agreement, and then you’ve got the VARs who potentially…
…are reselling Office 365 or something along those lines as part of their MSP services. And then here you’ve got this offering and the desire of our customers to tie the two things very tightly together. It is an MSP play, but I don’t believe it’s exclusively an MSP play. I think our customers are leading us here more so than our strategy is defining it.”
The conversation with UCaaS providers like Evolve IP will be changing in the next 12-24 months, Kinka said. Partners need to prepare for the fact that the conversation about UCaaS, particularly the collaboration aspects of UCaaS, is going to change to be more of a “how do I power you with the enterprise voice features that you want while leveraging the user interface (UI) and collaboration tool you’re already committed to,” Kinka said.
“That’s a very different discussion than they’ve been having,” he said. “It’s kind of been an all-in proposition of telephony and meetings collaboration, and our belief is that’s going to break up into two scenarios because customers are going to commit to a platform that they’re not going to move from. ”
Poly Unveils Video Bars for Microsoft Teams
The Poly Studio X Series, purpose-built, all-in-one video bars for Teams, will offer a native Teams meeting and calling experience, and were among a host of Poly solutions built for Teams that the company demonstrated at Ignite.
The Studio X Series consists of two new video bars designed for small rooms, the Poly Studio X30 and Poly Studio X50.
Poly’s Joe Burton
The Studio X Series supports 4K utra high definition (UHD), advanced noise suppression and video production rules to improve all aspects of the meeting experience, according to Poly. Users can choose to control the Studio X Series with the new Poly TC8 touch screen.
Poly Studio, a plug-and-play USB video bar for small huddle rooms, is now certified for Teams. The Poly Studio USB video bar features room-filling audio, a 4K HD camera with built-in speaker tracking and framing, as well as support for remote cloud management for ongoing updates and configuration. The Poly Studio is currently available globally.
“Whenever and wherever people connect with Microsoft Teams, we will be there to provide the best-in-class audio, video and voice endpoints to make the experience that much better,” said Joe Burton, Poly’s president and CEO. “We deliver everything you need on the journey to transition to Teams.”
“We’re pleased to partner with Poly on a range of Microsoft Teams solutions — from video conferencing, to headsets, to desk and conference phones, to services,” said Ilya Bukshteyn, Microsoft’s partner director of Teams devices. “Poly is a one-stop-shop for Teams users that need to communicate and collaborate from anywhere and with anyone.”
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