2020 TMC Labs UC Innovation Winners Represent a Diverse Cross-Section of Solutions

By TMCnet Staff  |  October 15, 2020

We are thrilled to present the 2020 winners of the TMC (News - Alert) Labs UC Innovation awards.  We have representatives from a range of companies worthy of your consideration. AudioCodes Meeting Insights is a must-have solution for today’s meetings, as it makes them more efficient and enables digital transformation. NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT combines a flexible go-to-market model with best-in-breed and proven UCaaS. Ramp Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN) solves numerous video dissemination problems at once – multicasting, video caching and P2P. Full Spectrum Communications Solution has a unique cloud architecture that combines aspects of on-premises and pure cloud solutions as well as new additions, including Team Hub, business SMS and more. Upstream Works for Finesse (UWF) manages all channels consistently, but also ensures a consistent and seamless customer experience. Viirtue ViiBE Lite is a quoting tool with tax automation and account management for service providers, which will likely increase the adoption of proper taxation from more MSPs, service providers and partners.

We feel this list presents some of the greatest and most diverse products on the market.

AudioCodes

Meeting Insights

COVID-19 has dramatically increased the number of electronic meetings and, as a result, the opportunity to harness this meeting data for better decision-making is a must as companies design their digital transformation plans.

AudioCodes Meeting Insights is an enterprise solution designed specifically for the meeting technology world – capturing and organizing all meeting-generated content from team collaboration and training sessions to sales and recruitment calls.

Users can record and capture information shared from multiple sources, both in-room and remote participants, and both voice and visual content presented. Mia, the platforms’ in-meeting voice assistant, captures in real-time all action items, notes, decisions and a meeting summary by using AudioCodes’ next-generation Voice.AI features – speech-to-text (STT), keyword spotting (KWS), speaker identification, tracking and more.

As a SaaS multi-instance offering, customers can choose to use their own Azure subscription or use the AudioCodes one. In addition, users need a web browser to access the application. Mia, the in-meeting voice assistant, is integrated using an Outlook add-in that adds Mia to the scheduled meeting with a single click.

Meeting Insights is the first meeting solution that combines both simple recording capabilities together with advanced Voice.AI features listed above – all fully integrated for Microsoft environments. Mia – the first in-meeting voice assistant – automatically joins all scheduled meetings and logs action items, notes, decisions and meeting summaries as were entered by participants throughout the meeting.

The solution uses AI to spot “Hot Words,” allowing it to identify meeting minutes and generate recaps, such as action items, speaker identification, decisions, summary and notes. It also synchronizes the visual content presented during the meeting with the actual discussion on the slide, allowing the selection of a slide to instantly hear the relevant audio and transcription section.

Finally, a comprehensive search engine allows advanced search for participant/topic/key-word/tag and more.

We chose AudioCodes Meeting Insights to win the 2020 TMC Labs Unified Communications (News - Alert) Innovation Award because, while many solutions offer voice recognition to consumers, few to none address the corporate world, especially in the Microsoft Teams environment. We are impressed with how it enables users to record, organize, search and share meeting-generated content in real-time. Although the solution was rolled out before COVID-19, it has shown itself to be a pandemic technology at the right place at the right time.

NEC Corporation

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT is a fully integrated, enterprise-grade, cloud-based communications platform that helps business increase productivity and collaboration. It includes a full-featured phone system combined with chat, web/video conferencing, and file sync/share/backup capabilities, all available to users through desktop, web, and mobile applications. Built on Intermedia’s born-in-the-cloud UCaaS environment, NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT is intuitive, reliable, and easy to deploy, while remaining highly scalable and extremely cost-effective. NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT helps improve the communications and collaboration of businesses, while being easy for partners to sell, install, and support.

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT is designed specifically for business of all sizes – from SMB to mid-market to Fortune 1000 – and across all verticals. NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT is brought to market exclusively through NEC’s Business Channel Partner community.

The solution competes with a range of organizations specializing in business phones, meetings, video conference, file sync, storage and backup, security and chat solutions and fully integrates with UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE contact center for a comprehensive integrated communications solution. UNIVERGE BLUE includes all these functionalities in one easy to use cloud communications platform.

The UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT Mobile App makes any smartphone an essential collaboration tool. Users can extend their desktop phone numbers and extensions to their mobile phones, giving them the ability to place and receive calls, send chats and text messages, see who is available and manage voicemail – anytime, anywhere. Users can also protect their business and increase employee productivity with Spam Caller Protection.

The UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT Desktop App empowers users with the flexibility to communicate the way that works best for them. Users can see who is available, send chats and text messages, place and receive calls, share screens, start video calls, share files, view and manage voicemails – all from a single application. Users can also use the desktop application to place and receive calls or as a call controller for the associated desk phone or as a softphone from their PC or Mac.

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT’s fully integrated communications tools include:

  • Full-featured phone system: Users receive a cloud-based phone service with 100+ enterprise grade calling features and excellent network call quality and uptime. UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT phones are plug and play, delivered pre-configured to work seamlessly – no special setup or technician required.
  • Remote workforce support: Preconfigured phones can be plugged into any location that has an internet connection and will work exactly the same way as they do in the office, with access to all the same features and functionality as everyone else in the company.
  • Voicemail management: Users can listen and manage from the desktop phone, or through the mobile app. Transcribed voicemail messages can be delivered via email or viewed on the mobile app. Voicemail can also be received or forwarded as a downloadable email attachment.
  • Team chat & business SMS: Users can send and receive chats in real time with team members, or send and receive unlimited text messages across US, Canada, and Puerto Rico from their business phone numbers to colleagues and customers. Chat and SMS messages are automatically synchronized across devices and are securely encrypted in transit and at rest.  Users can manage all contacts from a single platform with the ability to sync contacts from popular third-party platforms like Office 365, G-Suite, and more.
  • File collaboration: 10GB per user of UNIVERGE BLUE SHARE file storage is included. Users can access files from desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, file servers, and the web, and receive full control over files, users, devices, and sharing activities.
  • File backup: Access to UNIVERGE BLUE SHARE provides real-time backup of all files, mobile photos, and videos, with point-in-time file restoration for quick recovery from ransomware and other types of data loss. Users can share files with other users and co-edit in real time for Office 365 Users.
  • Virtual fax:  UNIVERGE BLUE WEBFAX is a virtual fax service that allows users to receive and manage faxes via the web or email. Users can transmit faxes directly from a Windows-based PC or send faxes by simply dialing the WEBFAX number from their fax machines, as they normally would.
  • Video conferencing and online meetings: HD video eliminates unnecessary travel and empowers teams with remote members to be more productive. Additionally, users can host web meetings using slides or screen-sharing with up to 12 HD video presenters and up to 100 web attendees. Meeting hosts can record meetings, which are then automatically transcribed, and receive transcripts with action items in their inboxes. Meeting notes are captured (like action items and next steps) in real time and all notes are automatically sent to participants after the meeting.

The customer provides the routers and switches at their site, as well as any firewalls. In addition, they may also have a physical telephone or a softphone client for their PC, laptop or tablet, as well as smartphone apps. Finally, they may also have the UNIVERGE BLUE MEET mobile and desktop apps, in addition to other integrated UNIVERGE BLUE apps such as UNIVERGE BLUE SHARE and UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE.

Beyond this, all other VoIP PBX (News - Alert) equipment is hosted in the cloud. To help support customers’ migration to the cloud, NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT creates long-term value for its customers using NEC’s dynamic delivery model – meaning customers can choose from on-premises, cloud or hybrid models. With UNIVERGE BLUE, customers can migrate to the cloud at their own pace. They can slowly transition from their existing PBX platform to UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT or migrate everyone all at once – it’s their choice – whatever best fits with their business model.

NEC offers three go-to-market options for partners for maximum flexibility in how they sell. Unlike other vendors, partners can continue to own their customer relationships with either Customer Ownership or Revenue Share models.

  • Customer ownership: Channel Partner owns the customer relationship and purchases services from NEC wholesale
  • Revenue share: Channel Partner marks up services based on a set “buy” price. NEC pays the partner up front sales spiff and monthly difference between the buy and sell price
  • Agency: Channel Partner sells based on NEC pricing. NEC pays the channel partner monthly commission and upfront sales spiff

A big positive is that NEC channel partners will continue to own their customer relationships with the customer Ownership & Revenue Share channel partner program options. Not only does this keep the MSP more involved with the customer, it increases the valuation of the MSP. In addition, Channel Partners have access to a complete quote to cash platform for selling, provisioning and supporting services.

NEC’s complete set of channel partner tools include online or on-demand training, access to brandable sales resources or pre-built campaigns, sales and ordering support, white-glove onboarding for every customer, billing and taxing support and technical support.

We chose NEC Corporation NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT to receive the 2020 TMC Labs Unified Communications Innovation Award because it combines the best of a well-known and trusted UCaaS solution and incorporates NEC backing and a flexible go-to-market strategy allowing resellers and customers to customize how to assemble a solution to best fit their needs.

Ramp

Ramp Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN)

Enterprise video dissemination and consumption has become more important than ever during the pandemic. As a result, solutions to assist in these efforts have also become increasingly important.

Ramp is focused on helping organizations tap into the power of live and on-demand streaming video using an enterprise CDN to drastically reduce the bandwidth needed to stream uninterrupted, high-quality video on corporate networks. Using multicasting, video caching, peer-to-peer networking, or any combination, Ramp is a flexible solution solving a common problem.

Ramp works with virtually any modern platform and is tightly integrated with leading streaming video solutions. The software deploys entirely behind your firewall for maximum security and scales easily as demand for video grows. With centralized management, monitoring and insightful analytics, you get unprecedented visibility into and control over network performance to deliver the highest-quality viewer experience.

Ramp Multicast+ is a highly efficient way to stream live video. It takes advantage of the multicast protocol to send a single video stream to everyone on the network without consuming any more bandwidth than is needed for one viewer. Customers maintain a highly predictable and deterministic network, regardless of whether they have 100, 10,000 or 100,000 viewers. Multicast+ is deployed and managed 100% behind the firewall with built-in security to prevent unauthorized access to video content while in motion and at rest. It’s a lightweight software solution that can install on existing infrastructure – virtual machines or bare metal – so no need to upgrade the network or buy proprietary hardware.

It also contains Ramp-patented innovation for forward error correction (FEC), a method for managing momentary loss of data. Encoding A/V data for transmission using FEC is done by organizing bits and gathering them into two-dimensional blocks representing data over a certain duration of time. The blocks contain codes with forward and backward predictive information to help the decoder reconstruct lost packets when the blocks are received. The accuracy of the decoding process is highly contingent on the size and number of chunks of data lost from the block – the more contiguous data is lost from the blocks, the more the playback quality of the video is degraded at the viewing device.

Administrators can create and schedule simulated, fully functional video events that instruct participating Multicast+ senders to notify Multicast+ receivers to join the event for a specified period of time. The receivers gather information, then return event-related statistics viewable via the unified management system.

Ramp OmniCache is an intelligent video caching solution that redistributes video in nearly any format from virtually any streaming video source. Unlike other eCDNs, viewers can watch both live streams and video on demand (VOD) without installing software or plugins on their PCs, tablets or mobile phones. OmniCache software is deployed on the LAN and/or in data centers to serve video to nearby viewers. By redistributing video locally, customers save 90 percent or more on WAN and internet bandwidth. OmniCache supports the widest variety of use cases and deployment scenarios. Its ability to scale effortlessly gives customers flexibility to address network congestion gradually as demand for video grows over time.

OmniCache has an auto-discovery engine that sets it apart from other enterprise content delivery networks. The auto-discovery engine allows multiple OmniCache nodes to communicate and register with each other, forming a mesh of nodes that are used to populate a routing table. Each node in the table serves a set of IP subnets (CIDRs) along with a given weight preference. Ramp’s management server becomes the central auto-discovery peer that populates the routing table.

When an additional cache is added to the network to serve more employees or a new location, it is automatically discovered and pulled into the mesh, making it easy to scale the deployment. When called into action, the mesh now handles the optimal routing of traffic based on node proximity, availability, and capacity. This same engine makes OmniCache a self-healing solution for enterprise resiliency. Should a cache drop offline for any reason, the routine engine will optimally reroute and balance traffic on available caches until the affected cache becomes operational again. 

In addition, OmniCache customers can avoid network spikes by pre-positioning video content at the local caches during times of low network activity.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) networking eCDN uses client devices to redistribute your videos and save precious bandwidth at locations with limited infrastructure. Through partnerships, Ramp delivers both on-premises and cloud-based WebRTC peer-to-peer networking (P2P) solutions to complete its portfolio and help companies stream video to every location. They offer all three eCDN technologies – multicasting, video caching and P2P.

Ramp’s patented multicast solution, Multicast+, was the first eCDN to provide standards-based and secure multicast delivery for any live video deployment that uses HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) or Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). Ramp has added enterprise-grade security features to Multicast+, such as end-to-end encryption of data while in motion and at rest, digital signatures to ensure the integrity of the exchange between video senders and receivers, encryption of the receiver disk cache at the viewing device, and support for HTTPS using PKI certificates to prevent transmission of unauthorized video streams.

We chose the Ramp eCDN to win the 2020 TMC Labs Unified Communications Innovation Award because of its ability to solve numerous video dissemination problems at once – multicasting, video caching and P2P. In addition, the secure scalable, self-healing vendor-neutral solution supports WiFi and VDI while allowing for live or VOD as a source. Finally, the company has recently added the ability to monitor key KPIs to determine user QOE levels.

Star2Star Communications

Full Spectrum Communications Solution

The Star2Star Full Spectrum Communications Solution is made for small to enterprise level companies in need of enterprise communications solutions and services. The company sells through resellers and agents.

The UCaaS solution provides flexibility, scalability, and productivity needed to optimize daily operations. Full Spectrum Communications unify voice, video, mobile, chat, fax, presence management, SMS/MMS, virtual desktops, and more into a single, easy-to-use system. Companies can select their preferred technology from a range of options including pure to on-premises cloud, to help reduce their costs and enhance their workflows. All Star2Star solutions include advanced UC features, built-in business continuity and the power of SD-WAN for crystal clear call quality.

The Full Spectrum Communications Solution leverages a unique cloud architecture that combines aspects of on-premises and pure cloud solutions to get the best features of both without the limitations of either.

The Full Spectrum Communications on-premises platform extensively utilizes the cloud but also maintains some on-premises hardware and services, including the revolutionary StarBox Voice Optimized SD-WAN and Star2Star’s private cloud-based network. The pure cloud version of Full Spectrum Communications leverages the same feature set and ultra-reliable service without any on-premises components.

For the on-premises platform, the StarBox Voice Optimized SD-WAN sits at the customer location. Star2Star’s network and its suite of cloud-based services are hosted at redundant data centers. The StarBox connects over IP infrastructure to Star2Star’s network backbone, which runs on a collection of call routing nodes and data centers distributed across the country. Star2Star manages and monitors the quality of customers’ phone systems continuously with built-in business continuity protection.

The Full Spectrum Communications Solution allows for dynamic scalability, QoS voice features, line pooling, line bursting, chat, video conferencing, fax, mobile, business SMS, and many more features.

Recent improvements include a virtual workspace solution, business SMS, video meetings, and Team Hub platform. In addition, packaged applications that will enable businesses to leverage seamless CRM integrations, mass notifications, urgent response, and employee alerts capabilities.

We chose the Star2Star Full Spectrum Communications Solution to win the 2020 TMC Labs Unified Communications Innovation Award because of its unique cloud architecture that combines aspects of on-premises and pure cloud solutions as well as its newest additions including Team Hub, business SMS and more.

Upstream Works Ltd.

Upstream Works for Finesse (UWF)

Sold exclusively through distribution, Upstream Works delivers enterprise-class omnichannel solutions to any organization and contact center that has a need to deliver on customer experience goals, improve agent and customer engagements and enhance contact center performance across all channels. Upstream Works provides solution flexibility to meet the diverse needs of the modern contact center.

Upstream Works for Finesse (UWF) is a web-based omnichannel contact center solution within Cisco Finesse that enables organizations to deliver a consistent and personalized customer experience across all channels.

UWF provides user-friendly gadgets and a feature-rich agent desktop with knowledge for all interactions. It connects all channels with full customer context, management simplicity, reporting and analytics, with integrations to any application. The enhanced supervisor interface provides real-time visibility and context with on-the-fly management capabilities in an intuitive and highly configurable interface. It empowers supervisors to monitor agents, queues, teams, and skills so they can take immediate action when the need arises.

Customer projects routinely include multiple integrations across CRM systems, call recording platforms for quality monitoring, appointment scheduling systems, vertical and legacy applications, and more. Upstream Works frequently integrates with Aceyus, Acqueon, Calabrio, Eleveo, Epic, Facebook Messenger, Jack Henry, Local Measure, Microsoft Dynamics, RightAnswer, Salesforce, Selligent, ServiceNow, Tokbox, Twilio (News - Alert), Oracle, Verba, Verint, Zoho, and more. Upstream Works customers embrace this integration approach as it helps them quickly access and fully leverage valuable data – unlocking opportunities for targeted selling, personalized CX and revenue growth.

The Upstream Works Omnichannel API model provides a means to rapidly and easily add new channels and emerging technologies, like AI, Bots, and IOT. In terms of flexibility, the solution is designed to support on-premises, cloud, or hybrid deployments – easily working in harmony with existing investments in a variety of configurations.

When UWF is deployed with deep and rich integrations to existing infrastructure, the result is one comprehensive and streamlined solution that increases agent efficiency, personalizes engagements, and generates greater customer loyalty.

Since the first release of UWF in 2013, the product has offered leading-edge capabilities and innovative features that enhance the agent experience, customer experience, and business outcomes. Recently, the company introduced additional capabilities, including unified digital messaging, social messaging, and intelligent automation with an Interceptable Messaging Pipeline and support for AI and machine learning.

Delivering a true omnichannel experience means that the channel itself takes a back seat and the delivery of personalized, consistent service becomes the focus. UWF not only manages all channels, but also ensures a seamless, consistent customer experience – today and in the future.

UWF is a set of gadgets residing within Cisco Finesse, extending the value of Cisco Finesse by adding features, enhanced functionality, and support for all channels and interactions. The agent desktop brings it all together in one unified and intuitive interface with ease of navigation.

Gadgets include:

  • Interaction Activity viewer for all interactions and omnichannel context
  • Marquee for team and contact center messaging and stats/alerts
  • Team Chat for collaboration
  • Clients for Email, Chat, and SMS, Directory for frequently accessed contacts and smart transfers
  • Enhanced Supervisor Interface
  • Real-time statistics and monitoring capabilities
  • Upstream Works Assist provides optional native Knowledge Management for a consistent, streamlined customer experience

The gadgets, along with a comprehensive standard reporting package and seamless integration to multiple business systems, provide a true omnichannel contact center offering for Cisco Finesse users.

With its ability to capture multilevel and multiple reason codes per contact, UWF can provide deep and actionable analytics on customer activities, allowing organizations to better understand and predict customer patterns and behaviors, and collect actionable data on agent performance and success. Contact centers can leverage this actionable data to improve contact center processes, efficiencies and overall performance.

Upstream Works for Finesse (UWF) has recently introduced new features and functionality for CX journey management and optimization, and digital interaction improvements for enhanced CX across all channels. UWF V4.1, released in June 2020, focuses on making agent and customer engagements richer and more streamlined with ease of administration and management for greater business value. UWF V4.1 announcement highlights include:

  • Consolidated Administration Console – simplifies operations management with a single, centralized Consolidated Administration Console 
  • Outbound Customer Interactions (News - Alert) from Task Bar – better engagements with customer interaction shortcuts and outbound tasks streamlines and optimizes CX
  • FollowUp Task Queuing – empower agents and ensure follow-up commitments are timely and measurable for greater CX satisfaction
  • Log Any Third-Party Media – seamlessly log any third-party media into Interaction History records for even greater visibility into customer interactions
  • Email Review – Easily support agent onboarding and training for greater accuracy and consistency for a better agent and customer experience
  • AnyTask Transfer – AnyTask now includes ability to transfer AnyTask to any queue or agent, for live and non-live channels to improve process efficiency
  • Cisco Finesse 12.5 Support – UWF V4.1 supports Cisco Finesse 12.5
  • Enhanced Online Help – Single-source UWF Online Help system with enhanced search features

We chose the Upstream Works for Finesse to win the 2020 TMC Labs Unified Communications Innovation Award because it empowers agents to deliver personalized, effortless and exceptional customer engagements. The solution is highly flexible, working with numerous other solutions to make organizations productive and keep customer happy. Recent improvements are great for customers, including consolidated administration console, follow-up task viewing and more.

Viirtue

ViiBE Lite

Viirtue ViiBE Lite is a quoting tool with tax automation and account management for service providers and is accessible from a web browser. It is the first white-label UCaaS vendor solution to offer quoting and free communications tax calculations based on the service address.

Viirtue makes it easier than ever for service providers to send branded quotes directly from theie platform (no need to download and manually send) with full tax compliance.  In addition, Viirtue has developed truly unique proposal review and auto negotiation software for its partners and end clients.

The company solves a huge challenge service providers face when quoting and invoicing their clients: The ability to stay tax compliant without giving up a percentage of their revenue or having to use outside integrations. 

It is out-of-the-box ready and gives service providers a “single pane of glass” to manage all their clients and quotes. In addition, Viirtue provides a completely unique proposal review with auto-negotiation and review.

We chose Viirtue ViiBE Lite to win the 2020 TMC Labs Unified Communications Innovation Award because of its ability to solve an important industry problem for UCaaS providers. Often these companies are not aware of taxation issues. In addition, the complication of finding another company to deal with taxation gets put off until it is too late, causing fines or worse down the road. By bundling the taxation software into the white label UCaaS solution, Viirtue differentiates itself by adding superior value.




Edited by Erik Linask