Enterprise Connect in Three Words: Cloud, UCC, and Contact Center
By Jim Lundy
This year marked my twelfth year at Enterprise Connect (#EC19)—and this was one of the best when it comes to innovation and market success. There is one reason for it and it is called cloud and SaaS-based applications—which offer customers the flexibility that they need. This blog provides three key things we observed at Enterprise Connect.
Cloud is Powering New Offerings—Meaning Choice for Buyers
Aragon feels that 2014 was the year that enterprises finally started to see the power of the cloud and the benefits of SaaS applications. In both unified communications and collaboration (UCC) and contact center, the offerings that were being developed back then are now front and center and that is why so many firms are growing at record rates. The growth rate for cloud-focused firms in this market, no matter whether it is best-of-breed, UCC platform, or contact center, is averaging between 25-35%. Firms like Five9, Nextiva, RingCentral, Slack, Vonage, and Zoom are examples of this growth.
The Battle for UCC and Voice is Just Beginning
With most of the major providers at EC19 shifting to provide a full UCC platform, we see a multi-front war emerging. Voice, messaging, and meetings all share the limelight. It isn’t just feature wars, it is quickly becoming an experience war as users want more than a set of capabilities that don’t really work together.
In voice, while many enterprises have shifted to having a cloud-based phone system, most have not. New or updated calling plans were announced at the event. While Mitel and RingCentral continue to push the envelope, Cisco unveiled its Webex calling plan options, and so did Zoom. Amazon did as well but with little fanfare. The one that was not announced and is still in beta is Google Voice. We expect to hear more from Google soon.
This all means that the battle for voice is really just beginning. Our new Visual Forecast for voice still has it making up nearly half of the overall UCC and CC combined market.
Contact Centers Go Cloud and Become Intelligent
More than any other area, the race to add AI to contact centers was a popular discussion at EC19. Many of the contact center providers are leaning on Google for help with AI. As Google finishes the launch of its contact center AI offering, the vision of the intelligent contact center should become more real. We’d also point out that there are many alternatives for AI-enabling conversations. Besides Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Rul.ai offer some compelling alternatives. For the time being, Google has made its contact center AI offering more appealing from a partner perspective.
Bottom Line—Buyers Have More Choice
The winner in the UCC and contact center wars is the buyer. Enterprise Connect is a solid annual gathering where vendors share their latest innovations. Because of cloud, there is now more choice than ever. In our annual UCC Globe, publishing in April, we help buyers understand the current state of the market and who is doing what. We will also be publishing our inaugural Globe for contact center.