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UCaaS Trends 2019: Insights from Fuze, 8×8, and Dialpad

Exploring the future of Unified Communications as a Service

UCaaS Trends 2019: Insights from Fuze, 8×8, and Dialpad

Communicating at work used to be as simple as pulling up a chair and joining a discussion. Now, as trends like remote working and globalisation transform the business environment, business leaders have new challenges to overcome. Organisations need not only the latest communication technology to enable cross-border conversations, but they also need a way of keeping their stack as streamlined and affordable as possible.

Unified communications as a service is a cloud delivery model for comms that enables business leaders to build an extensive infrastructure, without worrying about excessive space and financial requirements. UCaaS solutions can encompass everything from video conferencing, to team collaboration services and presence technology. Many of today’s UCaaS vendors are even beginning to experiment with the idea of adding CPaaS into their systems.

As the demand for flexible, cloud-based technology continues to grow, we reached out to some of the market leaders in UCaaS technology. Fuze, 8×8, and Dialpad gave us their thoughts on how the space has evolved over the last year, and how they expect it to change in the months ahead.

The Customer Trends That Shaped the UCaaS Industry in 2018

Sometimes, to get a better view of the future, you need to look back. UCaaS has seen a significant amount of evolution over the last year, driven by the evolving needs of consumers from countless verticals.

Bradlee Allen, the Product Evangelist for Fuze:

“The biggest shift has not come from businesses, but from the end users of UC – the workers themselves.”

As employees have grown more passionate about finding the right balance between their personal and professional lives, Fuze believes that the attitude towards communication technology has begun to transform. “This cultural shift is not about expecting workers to commit to additional hours. Instead, it’s about allowing people to carry out their roles when they feel they’re the most effective and avoid hours where their productivity naturally dips.”

According to Allen, the changing nature of the office environment has prompted a working environment driven by flexibility, and UCaaS, as a cloud technology offers versatility at its core.

Dan O’Connell, the GM of Voice AI for Dialpad:

Dan O'Connell Dialpad

Dan O’Connell, Dialpad

“Customers are increasingly looking for new ways to automate the routine tasks associated with communication and collaboration.”

According to Dan, the need for a more streamlined workflow has given rise to technology like AI, and smart assistants such as Siri in the workplace. Over the last year, we’ve begun to discover what voice-driven artificial intelligence is truly capable of in the enterprise.

“While in years gone by, most employees would take call notes, record action items and schedule meetings manually, today they can simply speak and have actions completed by omnipresent smart assistants. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.”

Bryan Martin, Chairman of the Board and CTO for 8×8:

“The migration of enterprise and mid-market customers from on-premise and legacy solutions to pure cloud options is accelerating.”

In Martin’s opinion, 2018 acted as a reminder that businesses need the cloud for continuity and reliability. “Hurricane Florence showed us that flexible and remote working environments are mandatory to ensure business continuity. Businesses in the Carolinas were unable to get their employees back into the regions for weeks, and we received a lot of gratitude from large companies who could keep their organisations running thanks to the cloud.”

The Technologies Creating the Biggest Opportunities for UCaaS

As a cloud-focused technology, UCaaS is particularly prone to agility and quick evolution. New ideas and technologies can be delivered to end users almost instantly, meaning that customers have no trouble staying ahead of the curve. Over the last year, technologies like the cloud, ASR, natural language processing, and machine learning have all played their part in disrupting the UCaaS space.

Bradlee Allen, the Product Evangelist for Fuze:

Bradlee Allen, Fuze

Bradlee Allen, Fuze

Bradlee Allen believes that the cloud is still a valuable player when it comes to disruptive trends in UCaaS today. “Everyone’s been talking about cloud-based communications for so long that it’s become a bit of a cliché, but the reality is that the cloud is still the biggest driver of change in the UC industry.”

Unified Communications delivered “as a service” through the cloud allows for greater scalability, better mobility, more predictive operating expenses, and in Allen’s opinion “a more seamless and consistent communication and collaboration experience.”

The cloud is a vital concept in today’s work-anywhere environment, but it takes time to transition. Fuze’s research suggests that only 22% of businesses have already moved their video comms solution to the cloud, while 19% have transported their voice communications plan. “Cloud technology isn’t yesterday’s news – it’s just getting started!”

Dan O’Connell, the GM of Voice AI for Dialpad:

Dan O’Connell of Dialpad believe that it’s speech-based technology that’s leading the way in UCaaS transformation: “The two most prominent technologies are ASR (automated speech recognition) and NLP (natural language processing). These are the two technologies powering innovative voice hardware and software).

While smart assistants offer a great example of how vendors can leverage the real power of voice, Dialpad believes that there’s still a lot of potential to leverage voice as a data set – particularly in support and real-time situations. “At Dialpad we’re developing technology to transcribe calls, analyse sentiment, and identify opportunities for coaching in real-time.”

Bryan Martin, Chairman of the Board and CTO for 8×8:

Bryan Martin, 8x8

Bryan Martin, 8×8

8×8 launched an exciting innovation this year with their X Series – a next-generation system of intelligent enterprise engagement for employee and customer interactions. They believe that this customisable communication stack is an excellent example of how technology needs to adapt to the needs of the customer in the UCaaS space.

Bryan Martin also suggested that artificial intelligence and machine learning are crucial to future UCaaS trends and that these technologies are helping 8×8 to take more useful context from the data that moves through their cloud services each day. “We are in the business of making our customers’ data available to them in a form that can improve how their business operates.”

8×8 are enhancing the customer experience, providing recommendations, and offering insights into the next steps of the customer experience. “A single platform of engagement that can capture interactions across all channels is crucial to today’s era of big data. Businesses need to understand that an incomplete communications data set will lead to incomplete answers to their most pressing comms questions.”

Beyond 2018: What’s Next for 2019?

As we move into 2019, there’s no doubt that the UCaaS market will continue to evolve. Fuze, Dialpad, and 8×8 all had their own opinions of what the landscape might look like in the year ahead.

Bradlee Allen, the Product Evangelist for Fuze:

According to Bradlee Allen, the biggest focus for UCaaS in 2019 will be on data-driven AI and machine learning. “At Fuze, we’re already experimenting with big data to understand the wealth of information available through office communications, and how those insights can be used to improve productivity.”

At the moment, these data initiatives are focused on understanding the information available, but in 2019, Fuze expects to see huge leaps forward into how AI may be able to streamline communication and collaboration. “For instance, AI could be used to study the length of video calls, who drops off, and who attends, and even if the agenda was followed. This could lead to improvements in meeting productivity throughout the organisation.”

Dan O’Connell, the GM of Voice AI for Dialpad:

According to Dan O’Connell: “Although we’ve already seen a few this year, we’ll see even more acquisitions and consolidation in the voice AI and chatbots space.”

Dan believes that competitors will begin to realise that partnerships and plugins might not be the most efficient ways to enhance calls and that they need to bake updates in to have an impact. “The best experiences are native; they don’t require you to install new software or change your behaviours.”

Bryan Martin, Chairman of the Board and CTO for 8×8:

Bryan feels that other vendors in the UCaaS space will follow 8×8’s lead when it comes to combining all of the communication services a company needs, including contact centre, call recording, quality management, collaboration, and conferencing. “We’ve already seen several contact centre acquisitions in the UC space as other players try to catch up to our vision that contact centre and UC should never have been separate products. They belong together on a single platform so that every interaction is globally captured for business improvement.”

8×8 believes that a single platform drives simplicity, insights, and ease-of-use for everyone involved. What’s more, Bryan also noted that GDPR and regulations in the business space would continue to be an important discussion across Europe. “With high-profile data breaches like British Airways and Facebook, it may be an exciting year from a regulations perspective.”

Got a comment?

1 Comment
Ian TaylorIan Taylor 12:55, 14 Dec 2018

Some great points raised here – don’t forget to check out the rest of our UC Trends Series 2019

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