Fuze: New Brand And Focus on User Engagement and Collaboration
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Author: David Mario Smith
Issue: Who are the collaboration providers and how will they compete?
Summary: The Fuze announcement of its new brand name and capabilities signals the continued convergence of communications and collaboration technologies.
Event: On April 2 2014, Fuzebox announced its rebranding to Fuze, along with its new user interface (UI) and video collaboration capabilities. Also announced was a partnership with BT that will help expand the Fuze freemium offering internationally.
The collaboration landscape is changing fast, with smaller, more flexible vendors innovating and disrupting the status quo. With its new brand and lower cost options, Fuze is challenging the larger unified communication and collaboration (UCC) players. It has appeared increasingly frequently on shortlists next to larger competitors such as Cisco and Microsoft.
The UX Challenge
The mobile experience has been a major drawback for traditional UCC players: their mobile clients have not been well received or perceived to provide an adequately functional user experience. Along with its rebranding, Fuze developed a new user experience (UX) for the iPad, which will be followed later this month by Mac and iPhone applications. Fuze says it will also release an Android mobile app, Windows desktop app and HTML5 browser version in the next 60 days. The mobile-first strategy for the iPad denotes a trend towards more and more virtual web and video meetings including and being launched from tablet devices.
Fuze & BT
The partnership with BT will be good for Fuze to scale and penetrate into more enterprises. Fuze will provide BT its video communication and collaboration services and we believe the result will be “a thousand Fuzes blooming.” Fuze will get global PSTN access for its freemium service, along with better VOIP through BT’s MPLS infrastructure. The strategy is sound and will require specific messaging around the key use cases.
The Communication and Collaboration Continuum
What this all comes down to is a real focus on how people work. The communication and collaboration continuum spans people’s work and personal lives. This continuum embraces different communication modalities at different points depending on the situation and people involved. Throughout the day, users move from synchronous to asynchronous interactions with internal and external people.
Fuze is attempting to cover this continuum by supporting voice, video, screen sharing, content collaboration and text-based group and private chat. Fuze also supports integrations into office productivity, communication and content tools such as Outlook, Lync and Box. The strategy is to cover all the user engagement and interaction touch points.
Challenges and Opportunities
Aragon feels that Fuze’s key challenge will be enterprise messaging around specific business use cases. It’s also a big opportunity because we believe Fuze understands the use cases. They will need to focus on business outcomes and be equally proficient at speaking to IT and business leaders. With enterprises already down the path of huge infrastructure decisions for UCC platforms such as Microsoft Lync, Fuze will have to make the integration points clear.
- Include Fuze in due diligence work for communication and collaboration technologies.
- Ensure there is integration with existing communication and collaboration infrastructure.
- Focus communication and collaboration investments on use cases and business outcomes.
The collaboration market is currently in flux, facing consolidation and new vendor disruption at the same time. Collaboration planners that span IT and the business have to stay on the cutting edge and understand the trends. The Fuze announcement represents a trend toward a mobile-first and user experience-based communication and collaboration paradigm.