Why Hasn't UCaaS Taken Off?

Special Supplement

Why Hasn't UCaaS Taken Off?

By Peter Radizeski, RAD-INFO Inc.  |  May 05, 2017

At ITEXPO (News - Alert) 2017, there were new VoIP logos both in handsets and in service providers (ITSPs). White-label providers like CoreDial are powering MSPs to offer their own brand of VoIP. There are so many providers of hosted VoIP, but not that many that actually sell UCaaS.

By that I mean, most of the hosted VoIP sold is just SIP trunking or dialtone replacement. Even the stats about BroadSoft (News - Alert) UC licenses from Infonetics are padded with SIP trunk licenses.

With all the hype about unified communications or cloud comm or other marketing terms, a majority of businesses just buy dialtone. Is that because the more than 2,000 providers can’t sell it? Or that channel partners are too transactional? Or is it that UCaaS has never really been defined?

Medicine in the U.S. goes through clinical trials for a specific indication (or illness), except broad spectrum antibiotics. So is UC more like Amoxicillin than Viagra? One is an antibiotic commonly prescribed; the other is for erectile dysfunction.

UC has been widely marketed, but not specifically defined. No business decision makers say: “I want to buy UC or UCaaS.” They usually are discussing replacing a PBX (News - Alert). Even then UC is pigeon holed into hosted PBX. It takes an investigator to dig into what the PBX did and did not do for the company. A good interview will lead to a discussion about the functions that the company could benefit from, like a handful of call center seats for customer service; or call logs for the sales team; or voicemail to text.

With the pervasiveness of APIs, it would be advantageous to learn what software the company uses for email, group chat, CRM, and practice management. Perhaps the communication platform can integrate with these other applications to unify communications between them. At the very least, add click to call or to share contacts.

We have WebRTC making its way into apps like Slack and GoToMeeting to allow for screen share and video calls. This was part of the UC umbrella. Now it is a series of applications that people use to communicate with – text, SMS, Messenger, Hangouts, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook (News - Alert), Slack, email, conferencing. Communications is still sitting in silos.

We don’t even have a unified inbox yet. I remember when Trillian was released. Finally, a single unified chat app. We need that again.

So if businesses are using conferencing, chat, voice, SMS, etc., how come the ITSPs aren’t capturing these functions with their platforms? Why can’t they unify the silo?

Some of it is poor sales skills. Some of it is that buyers don’t have an email problem, or an SMS problem. They have a PBX problem. They have a phone problem. And even then it takes a trigger event to make the sale happen.

It goes back to whether the UC platform is solving a problem. It also goes back to selling product and features. That doesn’t work when you are selling change. With UC you are in fact selling change. For companies to get the productivity and efficiency outcomes, they have to change how they do some things.

They hate that! They fight that! You have to train them through that. Then train them again.

CoreDial’s Vice President of Product Caitlin Clark-Zigmond (News - Alert) said that they turn on all the features by default (like Facebook does). That way the user knows what the software is capable of. If they don’t know, they won’t use it. User adoption is the key to productivity and customer satisfaction.

Zigmond also noted that the cellphone was originally just for voice, but now people spend most of the time using it for apps. UCaaS has to figure out how to make the users slide from voice to other functions. Again, training is some of it.

Things are getting simpler. CoreDial says that anyone can design an auto attendant or even make changes to that AA tree from a device. It has been made that simple.

There are a few challenges that UCaaS faces. The industry has to get beyond the DID. It has to be about more than the phone number. To do that we need ramped up training on sales teams and users.  

Edited by Alicia Young


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