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Microsoft shakes up UCaaS Magic Quadrant with cloud-based Skype

In UC news, the UCaaS market has evolved past the early adopter phase as services mature, while video PaaS is expected to see growth as users look to embed real-time video in apps.

Microsoft has shaken up the UCaaS market by pivoting its on-premises Skype for Business to the cloud as part of Office 365. The shift has strained partnerships with providers that invested in Skype for Business, such as AT&T, BT and Interoute. As such, Gartner named Microsoft a challenger in its latest UCaaS Magic Quadrant, released last week.

The unified communications as a service market is also transitioning from the early adopter phase to the early mainstream phase as services start to mature, according to the UCaaS Magic Quadrant.

Gartner's UCaaS Magic Quadrant identified five key trends that are shaping the market:

  • Globalization. Many UCaaS providers now offer services in dozens of markets, including North America, Europe and Latin America.
  • Service maturity. Gartner reported end-user satisfaction increased significantly in 2016 as users expand their communication deployments, including web and video conferencing and mobility capabilities.
  • Workstream collaboration. UCaaS providers are now starting to offer workstream collaboration services with features including mobile messaging and file sharing.
  • Improved video experience. Gartner reported that providers have enhanced HD resolution and integration with standards-compliant endpoints.
  • API proliferation. More UCaaS providers are using REST-based protocols to expand their API offerings and enable third-party applications to build their own integrations.

RingCentral, 8x8, Fuze, BT and West were named leaders in the UCaaS Magic Quadrant.

Video PaaS drives embedded real-time video

The video platform as a service market is expected to grow from $60 million in 2016 to $1.7 billion in 2020, according to a report from IDC. Video PaaS is a new approach to embedding real-time video into mobile apps, websites and business processes.

According to the report, video PaaS costs less than premises-based video services because the technology does not require upfront hardware or software, contracts or subscription fees. Instead, payment is based on micro-billing tied to usage.

The report found three categories of apps driving the growth of video PaaS. The first category is communications and collaboration where use cases include workforce collaboration, video banking and telehealth patient-doctor interactions.

The second category is what IDC calls "show me" where use cases focus on field workers and customer service, such as video-enabled insurance claims and video customer support for consumer electronics and appliances.

The third and largest category is education, social and media. Use cases include tutoring, social media and on-demand marketplaces that have or will integrate video chat capabilities.

Pro sports teams deploy ShoreTel UC services

Two professional sports teams have deployed ShoreTel's UC platform to replace their aging phone systems.

The Carolina Panthers replaced their 20-year-old communication system during the renovation of Bank of America Stadium. The professional football team deployed a ShoreTel onsite service that includes conferencing, team collaboration workgroups and mobility and supports analog and VoIP phones. The platform is used throughout the stadium with more than 1,000 work stations and 35 workgroup members in the group sales and ticket offices.

James Hammond, director of IT for the team, said deploying the platform reduced costs, allowing the extra funds to be used for other projects.

The Portland Trail Blazers deployed ShoreTel to replace its telephony system that did not integrate with its contact center platform. The professional basketball team has a small IT staff that needed a UC platform that integrated with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system and included web collaboration, conferencing and E911 features. The ShoreTel platform was deployed in the Moda Center, Veterans Memorial Coliseum and a training facility, serving 450 users.

Lou Pallotta, telecom manager for the Trail Blazers, said web sharing capabilities have been popular among employees, including those in sales who use the feature instead of traveling to client sites.

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