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Cloud-based unified communications provider Fuze Inc. is wrapping up a busy year marked by company rebranding, global expansion and $112 million in investor support. The UC-as-a-service vendor's momentum highlights the cloud's growth opportunity and the desire of some enterprises to unify their communications on one flexible platform.
Fuze, based in Cambridge, Mass., was formerly ThinkingPhones, which acquired the video service Fuze in November 2015 and rebranded a few months later. ThinkingPhones, primarily a voice and messaging service, broadened its video and web collaboration tools with the Fuze acquisition.
About a year after the Fuze acquisition and rebrand, the vendor has seen considerable growth. In the first half of 2016, Fuze said it added more than 200 customers and boosted sales more than 150% over the prior-year period. Fuze's top 10 deals in the first half of 2016 represented a combined $40 million in contract value and 48,000 additional users globally.
This year, Fuze opened three offices across Europe, in addition to existing operations in the U.K., Netherlands and Denmark. It also opened an office and data center in Sydney, Australia, as well as data centers in Hong Kong and Singapore. Nearly 50% of Fuze's business now comes from the European and Asia Pacific regions, according to company statements.
The Fuze UCaaS platform now includes global voice communications, video conferencing, messaging collaboration, screen sharing, file sharing and meeting notes. The average Fuze customer has about 1,000 employees, according to Fuze CEO Steve Kokinos. Larger customers have tens of thousands of employees.
Unifying communications in the cloud
In August, technology research firm Gartner positioned Fuze as a leader in its UCaaS Magic Quadrant. Gartner cited Fuze's new video services, revenue growth and user experience as strengths, but noted the vendor's high pricing, brand awareness and resource limitations as weaknesses. Gartner also named RingCentral, 8x8, West and BT as UCaaS leaders.
Check out some of the features of the Fuze cloud-based UC platform in this video.
The global UCaaS market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Pegged at an $8.2 billion industry last year, the market is projected to reach $79.3 billion by 2024, according to Transparency Market Research.
The Fuze UCaaS platform and other products from cloud-based vendors look to capitalize on the rigidity of on-premises hardware. Namely, the inflexibility and infrequency of on-premises product updates have not kept pace with employee communication needs, Kokinos said.
Many companies have separate phone systems, messaging and conferencing -- and these tools may have duplicate functions. The Fuze UCaaS platform looks to unify these tools, Kokinos said, and the Fuze rebrand aims to convey that unified message.
"We thought the Fuze name would convey that communications is more than talking on the phone," Kokinos said. "It's about communicating any way people want -- whether it's voice, video, messaging, one on one, groups or talking with people inside and outside your company."
Fuze UCaaS unites phone systems
One Fuze customer -- Trustpilot Inc., a Danish consumer review site -- deployed Fuze to unite six global offices under one cloud-based phone system. Originally, each Trustpilot office had its own local phone provider, and several locations had call-quality concerns.
Heather Jensen, director of internal IT at Trustpilot, said the company was transitioning its services to the cloud, and deploying the Fuze UCaaS platform seemed like a natural step.
"Pure cloud is important," Jensen said. "It's important to do everything ourselves; it doesn't matter where we're situated."
Jensen said Trustpilot has been rolling out the new phone system one location at a time over a six-month period and expects to complete the rollout by the end of this year. The offices that have migrated to the cloud-based platform have reported better call quality, she said.
Jensen added that video will be the next feature to roll out across the company to offer users a single conferencing service, rather than having different video services across locations.
Katherine Finnell, SearchUnifiedCommunications associate editor, contributed to this article.
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