Vendor Priorities and the Future of Unified Communications
The past year or so has been an interesting time for companies in the Unified Communications space. While there hasn’t been a one-size-fits-all strategy for Digital Transformation (DX), many of the biggest vendors in the marketplace have shared the same universal feelings about what needs to be done to prepare for the future.
As always, customer acquisition remains to be the name of the game, but today it appears acquiring the right clients could be more important than ever. While in the past, struggling to get enough users might have been something that left you trailing behind your competitors, in an age of increasing market saturation, the vendors that don’t know how to attract new revenue could be left dead in the water within a matter of years, or months.
We’ve seen a lot of consolidation in the market recently. Cisco bought BroadSoft, Avaya came out of bankruptcy and immediately purchased their own Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solution. Mitel and ShoreTel joined forces – the list goes on. Everyone’s trying to gain more market share, because if you can grow your customer base, then you can compete.
Whether it’s growth through organic means, like RingCentral‘s quest to build a billion-dollar revenue by 2020 without acquisition of a customer base, or development that’s been bought, it’s time for vendors to figure out what they need to do to win more customers.
The Changing Nature of Vertical Markets
As the scramble for market share becomes more obvious, another major priority for vendors lately has been around the way they connect with their vertical markets. For decades, vendors in the UC space have focused their attention on areas like healthcare, education, professional services, and the like, leaving smaller verticals to their channel partners to handle.
However, the way that the vendor works with a vertical could begin to change in this new era where customers demand more from the businesses that they work with. Many of the leading vendors in the communication space are beginning to branch out and form strategic partnerships with other vendors in markets such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help them offer more relevant technology to the right people.
There are plenty of big-name brands already experimenting in use cases with AI, Blockchain, and IoT. For instance, Avaya showcased their adventures with Blockchain at last year’s GITEX, while Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise have begun to do interesting things with IoT and Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS). It might be time for some vendors to start thinking about how they can add emerging technologies to their offerings.
Customer Experience and Digital Transformation
One of the biggest priorities for any business in UC right now – whether they’re a channel partner, reseller, or vendor, is the rising trend of Digital Transformation (DX) and Customer Experience (CX). It doesn’t matter which event you go to lately, you’re sure to hear some talk about CX and DX, as these two factors remain to be the underlying theme for those seeking long-term success.
We’re living in a world where there’s plenty of legacy and aging technology to replace, and if vendors want to convince transforming customers to step out of the past and into the future, then they need to offer them a clear path for Digital Transformation. For some vendors, this will mean offering a unique route to the Cloud or a hybrid Cloud model. For others, it will be about showing customers how they can tap into the next level of Cloud Communications technology with little or no disruption.
The Drive for User Experience
Finally, “customer” experience isn’t the only thing that vendors must worry about when they’re producing new solutions for their portfolio. Today, services and systems need to be sleeker, simpler, and easier to use than ever before. We’ve already seen numerous vendors making the move towards “single pane of glass” user interfaces to make it easier for people to deploy and understand their new software. What’s more, today’s consumers expect to be able to use their services from any device, at any time, with no difference between experience or performance.
At the end of the day, vendor offerings in the UC space can’t just be innovative – they need to look good and feel good too. Even the most impressive system in the world won’t help a vendor to be successful unless it’s simple enough that customers are willing to adopt and use it.
Until now, UC vendors have been somewhat slow with the steps they have taken to improve user interfaces, but a change is coming. Some vendors are moving over to a Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) solution – which means that UC software programs can be used in a browser without the need for any external downloads or applications. The fact that the end-user doesn’t have to download any software makes ease of use and adoption more likely. However, WebRTC is still a vastly under-used resource.
As we progress into the future, we may see more solutions appearing in this area. In fact, one day, you may find that you no longer need an app on your smartphone to tap into your UC apps. All you’ll need to do is use the native browser on your mobile device, happy days.
Industry news: unified communication news
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