Unified communications market sees demand for customized offerings
Channel partners can use unified communications APIs to help customers simplify business workflows. Learn about this niche opportunity and what trends will shape the market.
While channel partners in the unified communications market have traditionally profited from selling IP PBXs, phones and video conferencing systems, a new opportunity has become available: using APIs to extend UC functionality into business apps and workflow.
UC APIs let developers embed functionality like telephony and videoconferencing into applications, effectively eliminating the need for users to switch to a dedicated UC app to communicate, according to Nemertes Research. This enables partners to tap into UC APIs to create customized, value-added services for their customers.
This is a niche to explore: The market for services is projected to rise to 66% revenue share of the $39 billion unified communications and collaboration (UCC) market in 2019, as software, platform and endpoint revenues continue a steady decline, according to Frost & Sullivan. In 2018, hosted and cloud IP telephony and UC services dominated at 39% share of global UCC services revenue, the firm reported.
The biggest opportunity for partners using APIs is in customizing or building offerings that meet specific customer needs, said Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Nemertes.
"For example, a partner could integrate a messaging service via an API to enable a customer to notify clients of upcoming appointments," Lazar said. Nemertes found that about 86% of companies are exploring digital customer experience initiatives to improve customer interactions across mobile, social and messaging channels. All of these channels can benefit from customizing and integrating existing business applications via APIs, he added.
Vendor support for API-based integration, custom offerings
To help partners take advantage of API-based opportunities in the unified communications market, vendors are offering training, technical assistance and access to app stores where developers can sell customized apps, Lazar said.
Most API and communications platform as a service (CPaaS) vendors offer developer support programs that include training and technical assistance. Nemertes is seeing growth in available app stores as well, Lazar said. In addition, some vendors such as Avaya "offer a sandbox for developers to create apps and test various configurations before bringing them into a production environment," he said.
There is "growing interest among UCaaS vendors, VARs [value-added resellers] and ISVs in leveraging available APIs and CPaaS offerings to build custom solutions for their customers, and to integrate communications into existing business apps and workflows," Lazar noted. An example might be adding "click-to-call" into a CRM system or automatically logging inbound calls in a CRM.
"I think app stores will enable partners to begin to sell the capabilities they create for their customers by packaging them as a specialized app and selling through vendor app stores,'' he said.
Simplifying customer workflows
Services provider World Wide Technology (WWT), based in St. Louis, sees an opportunity in looking at new ways to use APIs for automation and analytics, such as provisioning UC services for hybrid deployments, said Derrick Monahan, practice manager of unified communications at WWT.
"Some customers want a simple workflow that expands outside of a traditional UC application," he explained. "When we are helping customers with UC API engagements, we tend to look at the larger picture typically through an ideation process. As a result, we may help investigate ways to build a custom digital transformation outcome that may include ... UC, mobility and customer experience."
But with the opportunity comes challenges, and the biggest one Lazar sees is the ability to find developer expertise. "API [and CPaaS] vendors like Nexmo/Vonage tout about 700,000 developers; others are diligently working to build developer awareness or create tools that enable nondevelopers to use API-based services," he said.
Another challenge is matching API capabilities to customer's business workflows, said Derek Lohman, Cisco prototype lead at WWT. The firm often finds there is less documentation and support available than what is normally available in a general release, he said. "It takes additional effort to continuously monitor changes and updates to the API capabilities to provide our customers with the most current features available."
UC APIs in action
WWT has developed several applications using Cisco's Webex Teams APIs, Lohman said. Many of them are API-based integrations using Webex Teams and workflow applications like Salesforce or ServiceNow, he added.
"These [API-based] integrations allow the customer to automate tasks or increase communication between teams," he said. "WWT also creates applications that use Webex Teams as infrastructure."
An example would be taking Webex Teams' messaging and voice components and adding it to a common mobile application. With Webex Teams infrastructure, a customer can create their own branded experiences for their end customers, Lohman said.
Unified communications market: What's ahead
Integrating and automating applications with AI systems is becoming a unified communications market trend, Lohman said. "If WWT can create experiences and automation that react in response to business variables around collaborative interaction, we will see a whole new paradigm in how we work together. Combining analytical data with how people communicate will break the mold of static meetings and allow teams to collaborate more effectively over geographic locations and different time zones."
And, he said, it will become "pretty interesting if we can harness the way people work and couple that with APIs that automate the process, while adapting to recurring variables." If that happens, there will be a real change in both innovation and productivity, he added.
Given a dearth of developer expertise, the most exciting unified communications market trend Lazar sees is functionality in new platforms from vendors like K2, Zapier and Whispir. These platforms enable "citizen developers" to easily add communications to their workflows through drag-and-drop user interfaces.
Expect to see these types of capabilities become standard among CPaaS and UCaaS vendors in the next few years, he said.
Industry: unified communication news
- Head of Penetration Testing
- United Kingdom
Head of Penetration Testing needed to join a security consultancy that are delivering client facing penetration testing services around Web app and Infrastructure. Looking for someone hands on that is able to manage a highly skilled technical team of testers. 50-60% of the time is expected to be hands on, other duties will include, but not be limited to; leading and managing the day to day running of the team, mentoring, team upskill, recruitment, reporting, escalation, process improvement etc. Flexible location although south east is preferred. Anyone with Check / CREST experience is highly desirable. MUST be able to achieve SC clearance. UK based role. All details kept in confidence.
- CONTRACT SOC Manager. London / Birmingham. URGENT Immediate role.
REF7847 Contract SOC Manager. SC cleared, London / Birmingham. Initial 3 month Contract. SOC Manager needed to for an URGENT 3-4 month CONTRACT. SC clearance is essential. The project is to aid in the setup, implementation and management of resources to help with the initial stand up stages of a new SOC within a greenfield site. This is a short term contract role whilst a permanent hire is brought on over the coming 3 to 4 months. Experience engaging with and managing client stakeholder relationships as well as 3rd party relationships is critical. The role will involve; setting up, implementing and fine tuning the various initial stages of a SOC environment. Experience establishing and building out technical process / operational capability, managing of technical teams (analysts, engineers and architects, creation of policy / playbooks, fine turning is key. SPLUNK is the tooling of choice… Interviewing immediately. Set up a call with me today on https://calendly.com/chris-holt/arranged-call-with-chris-holt-remote-soc-role Direct contact details Chris.Holt@dclsearch.com or 07884666351
- SPLUNK Level 3 SOC Consultant, SIEM Splunk, London / Birmingham
REF CH7825 Level 3 SOC Consultant, SIEM Splunk, London / Birmingham £55,000 + Level 3 SOC Consultant, SIEM SPLUNK needed. Security Clearance. Permanent role Level 3 SOC Consultant, SIEM SPLUNK needed to join a public sector client. The ability to achieve SC clearance is essential. MUST have experience working with SPLUNK ideally to an Advanced Power User level. Splunk Enterprise Security (ES) knowledge and hands on experience highly desirable. The role will include, but not be limited to; managing and handling incidents end to end, supporting and mentoring level 1 / level 2 staff, supporting the SOC manager in the delivery of the SOC roadmap, engaging with the client stakeholders (other technical teams) as and where needed, use case development, advanced search and reporting etc. The individual MUST currently be living in the UK and be able to achieve UK security clearance. (SC) This is a permanent role To arrange a call with Chris Holt use this calendy link https://calendly.com/chris-holt/arranged-call-with-chris-holt-remote-soc-role Chris.Holt@dclsearch.com
- Aspiring Cyber Partner. Business lead, market maker.
Aspiring Cyber Partner (management consultancy) with Cyber specialism into Healthcare, Utilities and or Public Sector. Working with new and existing clients to help them solve, transform or evolve their cyber capabilities. MUST have; A proven management consultancy background in cyber. A history of identifying and closing new business opportunities. Currently Revenue generating / must be able to demonstrate recent wins. Client facing to board level with international businesses. Team leadership / mentoring experience. Extensive cyber industry experience. Digital transformation, Start-up environments etc. Experienced presenter at industry events, to be the public face of a business / capability. Breadth of knowledge across Cyber security. Service definition / creation. Would consider a senior director with experience delivering the above looking to step up. All conversations kept in confidence. To arrange a discreet call book a time to speak in my diary via https://calendly.com/chris-holt/cyber-partner-call Chris.Holt@dclsearch.com