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UC Roundup: Unprecedented UCaaS Explosion, Vonage, Wildix

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UC Roundup

It’s a remarkable time to be a unified communications (UC)/unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) provider as the coronavirus pandemic has created astronomical demand for remote workplace solutions virtually overnight.

Jay McBain, Forrester’s principal analyst of channel partnerships and alliances, said this week’s numbers alone are staggering:

  • Microsoft gained 12 million users.
  • Slack picked up 7,000 new customers.
  • Cisco WebEx logged 5.5 billion meeting minutes during the first 11 days of March and 3.2 million meetings per day ever since.
  • Zoom Video Communications added more users in the first quarter than all of 2019.
Forrester's Jay McBain

Forrester’s Jay McBain

“The UCaaS channel seems to be keeping up [with] the demand and offering implementations/integrations at a scale never before seen,” McBain said. “We will start to see ‘client triage’ move into other communication and collaboration projects, clients accelerating critical UCaaS functionality to the cloud, automation opportunities, security, redundancy, managed services and business consulting.”

On the negative side, IT services will be impacted significantly if this is prolonged and creates a 2008-level scenario, he said.

We recently compiled a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.

“We could see upward of a quarter of the channel struggle to survive if capital markets freeze, large customers delay accounts payable and demand drops for key services,” McBain said.

One of the biggest challenges is on the HR side as finding and retaining staff is the largest issue for many in the channel and if companies are forced to furlough or lay off employees, they may not come back, choosing a safer, larger company environment upon their return, he said.

Raul Castanon, senior analyst of workforce collaboration for 451 Research/S&P Global Market Intelligence, tells us many vendors have stepped up to help organizations support the unexpected rise in employees working from home.

451 Research's Raul Castanon-Martinez

451 Research’s Raul Castanon

“A few that stand out are 8×8, [which] developed a business readiness kit for remote work, CafeX Communications, which made its recently announced enterprise collaboration application Challo free to use until the summer; Dialpad, which is offering Dialpad Pro and UberConference for free to enable users to seamlessly work remotely; Intermedia, which is offering AnyMeeting Pro for free through the end of year, and many more,” he said. “It is still too early to gauge how this will translate into an increase in paid accounts, users and usage, or cost of new business; however, I expect it will likely benefit vendors in the long run as the outbreak will serve as a catalyst that will accelerate several trends that have been building up over the past few years, such as remote working and flexible work arrangements. These trends are now ‘business as usual’ for high-tech, digital-native companies, but were becoming more widespread among other organizations.”

The outbreak will put vendors to the test and will place the spotlight on key capabilities that are critical for supporting a distributed workforce — namely security, reliability and compliance, Castanon said. An interesting case is LoopUp, which has a differentiated approach to conferencing, he said.

“The company runs all audio on the public switched telephone network (PSTN) – even for video conferencing – which makes it a very reliable solution compared to VoIP,” he said. “It is also well suited for secure external collaboration. This places it in a good position to gain market traction since its key capabilities align well to address the requirements that many organizations will have as a result of the pandemic.”

Other vendors such as …

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