What to Look for in 2021

Don’t expect the vaccines to change the landscape in the short-term (for many reasons – call me if you want me to elaborate). Even Dr. Fauci predicts Fall of 2021.

Customer Experience (CX), Customer Engagement, API and UX/UI will be the focal point, according to analysts, bankers and VCs. Let me tell you that what really counts is Service Delivery. On the ground, turning customers up and getting them going smoothly is platinum! It garners word of mouth, referrals and reviews! That is how you get more sales. [Note: I wrote about customer experience here.]

I have been hearing remarks that smaller providers are in trouble. Not really. Focus and sales will win the day. Large providers, especially public ones, worry about quarterly metrics to maintain stock price, which is a stupid way to run a billion dollar company. Regional providers worry about getting and retaining customers. Period. They will need to be able to craft a story around why using them over Zoom or RingCentral is better.

On the CCA’s December webinar one speaker said what I have been saying for over a year: BroadWorks is end of life. He mentioned that no more BroadWorks licenses were being sold. BroadCloud and Webex are the future for Cisco. Vodafone (a BSFT shop) partnered with RingCentral. Comcast acquired Blueface. Verizon uses Aircall for contact center and acquired Bluejeans for video. So bigger BSFT clients have seen the writing on the wall. Don’t panic, but have a plan.

[UPDATE: One BroadWorks told me that he has signed a five year agreement with Cisco to purchase any license (called SBA). That service provider is also implementing Webex for Broadworks to replace UC-ONE in 1Q2021.]

One banker noted that the ROI on the RingCentral partnerships is naught. RNG has joined forces with Telus, BT, AT&T, Vodafone, Avaya, Alcatel… where are those sales in the S1 filings? Think about this: Why aren’t the giants developing their own UC product? AT&T had CallVantage early on (2004) (and canned it).

Some say that the big guys don’t want to develop their own product; telcos traditionally resell AT&T Labs/Lucent tech. CenturyLink (now Lumen) doesn’t have a serious UCaaS product. AT&T is back at RNG having killed AT&T Collaborate. Maybe they ceded this product line. The big boys are only interested in billion dollar products. When you have $100B in revenue, anything under a billion is a rounding error for a junior accountant to deal with.

Zoom saw big growth – 370%! The Big 3 UC Players did not see even 50% growth. Microsoft did. So what does that tell you?

Video calls are here to stay. (Here)

The big acquisitions this year – Microsoft + Metaswitch; Slack + Salesforce; kandy to a SPAC; more M&A coming all the time. Over 500 deals during the pandemic in the telecom/IT space. There was much acquisition in the cloud contact center space too.

Pundits say UCaaS is hot. Is it? Or is voice, conferencing, video, contact center and collab functions that people are using? Which can come in UCaaS or a variety of other ways.

Microsoft launched a CPaaS platform on Azure. At some point direct routing to Teams will go away. My guess is two years max. Why CPaaS? Read my thoughts here. Quinn said that in LATAM CPaaS is winning. Dial-tone with some added functionality is what I figure most businesses need since gloablly and in the US more than 85% of businesses are small businesses.

2021 will see a new FCC. Bye Pai! Who knows what that will bring – maybe less deregulation. Probably not.

The RDOF money went to Charter, Frontier, Windstream and Starlink. It looks like no fiber to the home deployments; instead our tax dollars are paying for fixed wireless (from WIND & FTR) and satellite!

Are you ready for 2021? Sales Planning and Goal Setting for the new year with a review of 2020’s wins and losses would be a smart way to spend the rest of the year.

Read more of my musings on 2020.

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