During the 2023 New York Cavell Summit, a group of leading communications providers engaged in an insightful panel discussion about giving collaboration a voice. They provided insights about the rising prominence of Microsoft Teams, strategies for adding value with Teams, and explored the positioning of other applications in the market like Webex and Zoom. Their perspectives proposed how enterprises can harness the full potential of these tools to enhance productivity and drive business success.
Question: How has the rise of Teams impacted the traditional unified communications market and the way enterprises approach voice services?
The rise of Microsoft Teams, and how it’s impacted the traditional UC market, was the talk of the Summit. Since it was introduced in 2017, it took off during the pandemic increasing usage of Teams by 894% — going from 20 million users in 2019 to the current 300 million. Slack was the biggest competitor when Teams launched. But, last year, Slack only had 18 million active users.
The rise of teams has dramatically affected the UC space. Companies are looking for ways to streamline tools and management. Scalability and cost savings were the top drivers of UCaaS adoption in 2022 along with the need to support work from home with a better UI and enhanced security. Remote work resulted in many companies adopting Teams for their phone system alongside meetings and chat — for a more integrated model.
Question: What opportunities and challenges does the dominance of Teams present for providers and enterprises?
For providers, one of the biggest challenges is how to bring value to an already existing collaboration platform, like Teams. For enterprises, it’s about managing the new hybrid work world with effective communications, enhanced collaboration, and tight security while managing resources and costs.
At Sinch, it starts with our core strengths — high quality voice services and an independently-owned, nationwide network. Then, as an Operator Connect partner, we bring those benefits to Teams. By voice-enabling Teams, we help businesses streamline their phone system infrastructure and take advantage of their already existing Microsoft platforms and investment. Collaboration is enhanced and traditional PBX costs of hosting are removed. We can also support contact centers and provide cloud faxing solutions, providing a broader solution.
Plus, since some enterprises like to work through partners, we developed a unique white label partner program to resell Operator Connect services through our partner channel to expand our service offering to a larger enterprise market.
Question: How do other applications such as Webex and Zoom fit into the landscape alongside Microsoft Teams?
Webex and Zoom have managed to co-exist and even thrive alongside Microsoft Teams by focusing on specific niches and offering features that Teams either lacks or doesn’t emphasize as much. Zoom is regarded for its user-friendly interface and compliments non-Microsoft business applications while Webex stands out for enterprise-grade security — one of the only solutions for government and medical industries. Both excel in third-party integrations and offer flexible pricing, making both platforms appealing to smaller businesses and individual users.
Microsoft, Zoom, and Webex all recognize the power and reach of the partner community which is why they have developed programs for providers like Sinch. It allows them to expand their reach beyond the normal retail channels and offerings they provide. Most of the collaboration solution providers don’t own and operate their own voice infrastructure. They often leverage underlying providers like Sinch and others to provide voice support for their retail offerings. Building a strong partner channel helps make all of us successful in providing a cost-effective quality solution to the end customers.
Question: What are your predictions for the future of voice in collaboration?
My expectation is these three trends will continue:
- The need for managing hybrid work and collaboration
- The ability to control costs
- Efforts to streamline communication
But it will be important for UCaaS providers to figure out a way to stay relevant. The demand is growing for professional services, SMS/MMS services, contact center support, better on-demand analytics, and additional value outside of the existing product suites of Teams, Zoom, and Webex.
At Sinch, we’re constantly looking ahead to evolve and provide innovative products to help our clients be successful — especially in such unpredictable times!