The oldest technology joke I know goes as follows: “How was God able to create the universe in only six days?” Punch line: “no installed base.” Funny or not, the truth is that migrating companies from legacy to new technologies is challenging, and especially when the technology in question is the legacy of all legacies: the business phone system.
The advent of cloud services is thoroughly disrupting the business communications and collaboration sector. Some customers are plotting a migration path that replaces PBX’s entirely with hosted solutions, while others are just starting to add UCaaS in a piecemeal fashion, often to add specific capabilities or connect remote workers more effectively. At the same time, platform vendors and service providers are investing millions to produce an incredibly wide range of offerings. With all this change, what are a few key things for customers to keep in mind as they consider their company’s best course?
- It’s still (relatively) early in the migration cycle. It’s true that a number of small businesses have shifted to Cloud, but the UCaaS market continues to grow over 25% annually, and the bulk of mid-market and large enterprise companies are still testing the waters. Meanwhile, vendors and service providers are still working to enhance features and functionality to provide truly enterprise-grade offerings.
- The market is highly fragmented, with hundreds of different providers offering telephony and UC services, and with more providers continuing to enter the market. Business models are all over the map, from freemium-driven start-ups (Slack) to repurposed on-prem offerings (OnAvaya/ Cisco HCS) to entire platform ecosystems (8×8).
- Consolidation is inevitable. Over time, the successful offerings will be those that can provide more than a simple recreation of on-prem in the cloud. Rather, they will enable customers to use new communications capabilities to drive digital transformation. They will have both cloud services and people services (consulting and integration), to positively impact specific business processes like customer care or product development. And they will enable the providers to deliver services more efficiently, through improved provisioning, billing, etc. For vendors and providers that deliver against those value elements, the sky’s the limit for Cloud.