Is Slack a Threat to the UCaaS Channel? 8×8, TPx, RingCentral, Talkdesk Weigh in

Cloud Collaboration

A popular collaboration company could be cutting into the unified communications market share. Should channel partners be concerned?

Reuters recently reported that Slack has surpassed 150 customers using its enterprise platform. Rumors have swirled about whether Amazon will buy Slack and expand its dominance.

An audience member at last week’s Bridgepointe Technologies rebranding event asked if unified communications and Slack are on a collision course.

8x8's Scott Sampson

8×8’s Scott Sampson

“What I tell my team is that when you see people like Amazon and Slack and others getting into the market — between UCaaS and CCaaS, it’s a $50 billion market. All it does is validates the massive opportunity for 8×8 and for the other colleagues on the panel,” says Scott Sampson, senior vice president of midmarket and enterprise for 8×8.

Samson says 8×8 views collaboration tools from companies like Slack and Microsoft as “complementary.” 8×8 purchased Sameroom last year in order to give workforces interoperability with various messaging solutions. But Sampson says his customers will not leave their unified communications vendor to go all-in with a collaboration provider, because that would only address a portion of their communication needs.

“Telephony is incredibly hard. Real-time communication in the cloud on a global basis is incredibly technical,” Sampson says. “Just integrating with Twilio and calling it a day is not going to get you where you need to go.”

RingCentral's Doug Starzak

RingCentral’s Doug Starzak

Doug Starzak, senior regional channel manager for RingCentral, says his company employs plenty of developers that are building integrations. But he ads that most customers will ultimately look for the most simple solution in the future, and that may entail going with a single vendor for collaboration and communications. He says providers should give their clients the option to integrate, with an end goal of migrating them to a holistic, single offering.

“More and more applications out there are going to be able to integrate into us, but the reality is to migrate into something that’s going to much more simple for the future,” Starzak says.

Sampson and Starzak joined speakers from TPx Communications and Talkdesk on the panel. The panelists generally agree that unified communications has reached its “third wave.” Sampson described the first wave as a move from on-premises to the cloud, and the second as taking specific solutions like PBX and contact center to the cloud. But now businesses want to access and use contact-center functionalities, even if they don’t have a contact center.

“What we find is that customers are looking for solutions where those silos of functionality come down, and it’s really about the customer experience,” says Sampson. “It’s not about phones in the cloud. Eighty-nine percent of organizations will tell you that the way they plan to differentiate versus their competition is through customer experience. It’s not about dial tone and voicemail and caller coding. It’s about providing better customer service.”

Ken Bisnoff, senior vice president of strategic opportunities TPx, agreed that there is …

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