Mid-Summer’s Musings on Cloud Comms

When looking at cloud contact center (CCC or CCaaS), my biggest observation is that pure play contact center providers (Genesys, Serenova, et al) are built for primarily inbound contact centers and secondarily for outbound call centers. That is great for call centers, big customer service departments and inside sales boiler rooms. There isn’t really any collab or UCaaS functionality, so that CCC piece is layered on top of the UCaaS or CPaaS (which is the case with Twilio Flex, Amazon Connect and Talkdesk). The buyer is paying $150 per agent per month on top of the telephony piece – and more with add-ons.

The CCaaS providers that are mainly offering UCaaS have a module for call center that is more general purpose. This can be sold to departments or lines of business as a functional add-on to the UC&C play.

Microsoft Teams is kind of doing the same thing. Office365 became Teams utilizing the Skype4Biz video calling and chat module and expanding it. It is email, chat, video calls, conferencing and phone. It can be used as a fully functioning PBX. Microsoft even supplies dial-tone in other parts of the world. It went Office docs, Sharepoint (file sharing), Skype/Lync (for calls, chat, video) to PBX and the full UC&C suite. And in WFH it is a winner because it was a familiar look (employees were acquainted with Outlook and Office products) with collaboration first and telephony second. Conferencing and chat are winning the work-from-home race.

In the UCaaS (unified communications) sector, the winners on most analysts’ lists are all homemade platforms. Avaya, Mitel, 8×8, Vonage, RingCentral, Nextiva, Fuze, Star2Star and LogMeIn (Jive+Grasshopper+GoTo+Join.me) are all custom built. No Broadsoft to be found.

  • Verizon is always a top SIP and UC provider as it goes to market with Cisco and BSFT.
  • Comcast was a huge BSFT customer – yet they acquired Blueface this year to control their own destiny. 
  • AT&T has both a Metaswitch and a Broadsoft and is a big Cisco shop, but goes to market with RingCentral for UCaaS.
  • West (now called Intrado) is a Cisco shop. They just acquired OnSip (homebrew).
  • Windstream is a mix of Mitel, Avaya, Allworx, Metaswitch, BSFT and Broadview (homebrew).
  • Evolve IP is a BSFT shop with emphasis on Microsoft.

This top 10 list has been about the same for 8 years with little change except by virtue of M&A.

On-premise vendors chose homebrew:

The point may be that pure play providers in either sector – CCC or UC – have a focus advantage as well as a devops convenience that non-pure play providers do not have. The feature game is over as almost every provider has the same features (they just appear different in the user interface).

Another buying factor is Price. Pricing is easier for non-BSFT shops, since BSFT means Gold, Silver, Bronze packaging that is impossible to get away from. With Vonage and to some extent 8×8 going the build-your-own-comms-system route, buyers can consume (and pay for) functionality that they need despite which layer it comes from – CPaaS, UCaaS, CCaaS.

Most service providers sell to everyone – even if their platform is a misfit for the buyer. It is all about revenue – any revenue. Where is the deep dive into their CRM that they pay big $$ for? Why have providers not examined what verticals that can be leveraged or integrations that can be strengthened to have a Unique Advantage. Pure CCC providers have done that kind of integration with Salesforce, Gamification, Payment Processing and more. The deep dive into the customer list may help your sales team focus their sales.

If you are selling UCaaS or CCaaS, follow the advice of Seth Godin: “Find products for your customers!” Not for your prospects – for your customers! Especially during a pandemic when wallet share and customer retention are your best avenues to go.

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