February 3, 2022
Before Covid-19 forced a global shift to remote work in early 2020, cloud adoption was already revving up among companies of all sizes. The pandemic, as a certain celebrity chef might put it, kicked things up a notch. Or two. Organizations that had put off the transition to cloud-delivered UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) — perhaps due to budget constraints, or because they had years left on support contracts for expensive legacy systems — went all in. Even if a previously installed system could support remote work, necessary upgrades would be costly and disruptive. Not so with the cloud.
It’s no wonder, then, that UCaaS is booming. As Nextiva reported, both IDC and Gartner predict that by 2025 the global UCaaS market will reach $141 billion, much of that driven by growth in remote work and among key verticals like retail, healthcare, finance and education. SMBs are among those jumping on the proverbial bandwagon.
As a recent Forbes article noted, “unified” was for decades a mere buzzword. Whereas UCaaS truly embodies that term, things were considerably more disjointed before its advent.
“As workers became more mobile, legacy communications providers began bolting on video and chat capabilities as they scrambled to build more versatile solutions,” the article explains. “This has led to disparate tech stacks getting stitched together, making it difficult (and in some instances, impossible) to make those seamless jumps between communication methods…A truly unified platform allows you to move calls across devices and jump from voice to video without ever interrupting the conversation,” which in turn “helps keep users engaged.”
According to Mindsight Principal Consultant John Irey, there’s now so much competition between cloud providers to land and retain UCaaS clients that “if you signed a contract three years ago and it’s coming up, more than likely you can do better.”
Here’s Irey’s overview of what else is happening in the space.
We’re mostly seeing the consolidation of established players like 8×8 and Fuze, Ericsson and Vonage. In effect, there’s a land grab going on. These companies are really trying to grow their customer base, establish themselves as leaders in the UCaaS space and increase monthly recurring revenue. So we’re seeing a ton of competition out there, and customers are benefitting from that.
Integration of Microsoft Teams
A widely used collaboration platform, Teams initially became popular because a lot of companies had access to it as part of their overall Microsoft licensing contracts. During the pandemic, it went through the roof. With so many employees going remote, they had to be able to communicate effectively and simultaneously in every way possible — voice, chat, video. Fortunately, Teams and the cloud can easily integrate with each other, so this tool that was already in their chest went from nice-to-have to must-have. From something that enhanced business operations to something that was a vital part of keeping them afloat. As a business ploy, many cloud providers even advertise their Teams-friendly services.
Cloud features and functionality
With cloud software, whatever that hot new feature is — maybe it’s a Teams integration or SMS capabilities from the chat platform — one day you don’t have it, the next day it’s available. You don’t have to wait through a long upgrade cycle, and then pay a lot of money to take advantage of new capabilities. Plus, there’s no need to buy servers or software, or to pay an in-house specialist to oversee a lengthy installation and maintain the system afterwards. Cloud also makes it much easier to scale up or down, depending on the size of a company’s workforce at any given time. For new call center hires, say, it’s simply a matter of going into the portal, assigning them phone numbers and specifying whether or not they need a phone, which can be pulled from inventory or drop-shipped to them. Hit the “submit” button and they’re good to go.
Leveraging partners like MSPs
MSPs like Mindsight act as project managers during the cloud transition. Besides getting better prices for our clients because we receive competing bids from prospective providers, MSPs also act as buffers to overzealous salespeople who’d otherwise be calling companies directly (and often). That consumes a lot of time and mental energy. Just as important, MSPs have the expertise and experience to study a client’s current utilization patterns to determine which features they need (or don’t) and which vendor can best serve them. We then contact potential vendors, begin establishing a baseline of price and narrow down a list of providers that check the right boxes. That way our clients don’t have to sit through a slew of long and unnecessary demos. After drilling down on specifics regarding features, pricing and other aspects, the client chooses a vendor and signs a contract with them directly. At that point we’re effectively out of the mix. There to help, but only if called upon.
Mindsight, a Chicago managed services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.
About The Expert
John Irey is a Principal Consultant at Mindsight, an IT Services and Consulting firm located in the Chicago area. With nearly 20 years of experience in information technology, John has helped businesses of every size optimize the technology powering the contact center. He has extensive experience with contact center technologies and seeks to provide a consultative voice to contact center leaders, who rely on Mindsight’s transparency to make the best technology investments. John earned his BA/BS in Information Systems and continues to focus on how emerging technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, impact the contact center. John enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two young children.