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Biggest UC trends revealed in top news stories of 2019

Vendor partnerships and interoperability initiatives are a few of the UC trends that made headlines in 2019. Take a look back at some of the top stories from the past year.

The unified communications market continues to evolve. In particular, big-name vendors partnered to improve interoperability and diversify their portfolios. In addition, UC trends, like tighter integrations, garnered attention.

Take a look back at some of the top news stories of the year and the UC trends behind them.

1. Microsoft changes gears to align with Cisco on UC interoperability

Customers have long asked for better interoperability between cloud UC and collaboration products from Microsoft and Cisco. Now, the two vendors have partnered to focus on providing interoperability between Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams, starting in early 2020.

Last year, Lori Wright, Microsoft's general manager of Office 365 collaboration apps at the time, said the company was uninterested in partnering with Cisco. Microsoft's resistance meant Cisco had to rely on Microsoft's publicly available APIs to integrate Webex with Office 365. The new partnership will enable Microsoft and Cisco users to natively join meetings on either platform.

Previously, Microsoft certified video conferencing vendors BlueJeans, Poly and Pexip to enable organizations to connect legacy video devices with Teams. Now, Cisco will be added to the list of certified interoperability partners.

2. Slack uses Zoom partnership to compete with Microsoft and Cisco

Slack and Zoom partnered to better compete against other collaboration app vendors, such as Microsoft and Cisco. The partnership will bring Zoom's advanced meeting and calling features to Slack, enabling the companies to more closely integrate.

The integration will only be available to Zoom customers. Additional improvements from the partnership include delivering more information on meeting attendees before, during and after a call.

Partnering with Zoom adds conferencing and calling to Slack's portfolio, while Zoom addresses its need for team collaboration services. Slack will continue to provide integration with Zoom's competitors.

3. Avaya misses Q2 revenue mark amid private buyout rumors

In its second quarter, Avaya's revenue dropped to $709 million, falling short of its forecast of $730 million to $760 million. Missed deadlines for new contact center partner offerings were a contributing factor to the drop in revenue. Avaya was also unable to meet the strong demand from channel partners for its J Series desk phones.

The company blamed a story published a week before the close of the quarter, which claimed a private equity firm had proposed a leveraged buyout. More speculation about the company going private surfaced, with claims that the company was planning an auction and that rival Mitel was in talks to acquire Avaya.

Ultimately, Avaya revealed it hired JPMorgan Chase to explore strategies to increase shareholder value. After this announcement, Avaya lowered its 2019 revenue projections of between $3.01 billion and $3.12 billion down to between $2.9 billion and $2.95 billion.

4. Slack waters down cloud SLA

Slack paid $8.2 million in credits when it suffered service disruptions. At the time of the outages, Slack's service-level agreement (SLA) awarded a payout to every customer, whether or not the customer was affected by the disruption.

To avoid similar payments in the future, Slack altered its SLA to only pay those customers directly affected by service outages. The company also changed how it calculates service uptime and lowered the payout ratio from 100 times what the customer paid for the service during an outage to 10 times that amount. The new SLA applies to Slack's Plus and Enterprise Grid subscription plans and took effect in mid-August.

Slack attributed the service disruptions to growing pains as the number of daily active users increases and the company attracts larger customers. But reducing SLA payouts may make it more difficult for Slack to differentiate from its competitors in terms of reliability.

5. Delays for Microsoft's private chat channels

Users on a Microsoft Teams feedback page have long cited private chat channels as one of the most sought-after features for collaboration apps. But Microsoft's rollout of private channels was a bumpy road.

Initially, Microsoft announced Teams would launch private chat channels in early 2018 but later delayed the launch until October 2019. Microsoft announced the delay despite feedback that a lack of private chat prevented customers from adopting Microsoft Teams. Private chat channels went live for all customers in November.

Microsoft cited technical difficulties in engineering as the reason for the initial delay of private chats. The addition of private channels will better position Microsoft Teams to compete with Slack, which has offered private chat channels since 2015.

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