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Unified communications (UC) vendors are expanding the capabilities of their software through the use of third-party apps, as the demand for more features in a single product grows among enterprises.
HipChat is the latest example of a UC software provider that has embedded apps from third parties into its collaboration application, which teams of corporate employees use to conduct online meetings.
Last week, HipChat announced its latest iteration, HipChat Connect, now available in beta. The cloud-based platform incorporates embedded apps into a single interface that businesses can customize.
Previously, HipChat offered team communications, such as chat, video calling and contextual messaging. Now, it can provide a much wider variety of apps, ranging from Twitter to StatusPage.io. The latter conveys updates when a network goes down, as opposed to a simple error message.
A crowded UCC market
In using third-party apps, HipChat becomes one more vendor in a unified communications and collaboration (UCC) market with lots of competitors. Other vendors using a similar strategy include Cisco and Unify Inc.
High demand from enterprises is driving the embedded-app craze. A 2015 benchmark survey by Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill., showed 25% of companies were evaluating whether to buy UC software that incorporates multiple applications. Another 30% of respondents were already doing so.
So, faced with a crowded market, HipChat is hoping to stand out by providing third-party apps that customers can use to tailor the product to their needs.
"Smartphones became mainstream because users could customize the experience," said Steve Goldsmith, general manager of HipChat, which is owned by London-based Atlassian.
Third-party apps also help cloud-based software makers, such as HipChat, provide products with more bang for the buck, while reducing customers' dependence on less efficient email, said Roopam Jain, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, based in San Antonio. "They [companies] are searching for best-of-breed apps that can be unified for completing tasks more efficiently."
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