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Comcast Business is providing integration between its cloud phone service, Business VoiceEdge, and Microsoft Office 365, making it possible for Office 365 users to initiate or receive calls from Outlook, the combined email, calendar and contact application. For Comcast, it's a move that gets their product in front of more potential customers.
Comcast launched Business VoiceEdge five years ago in an attempt to take customers from traditional phone companies, such as Verizon and AT&T. Comcast designed VoiceEdge for businesses with 15 to 250 employees.
Comcast introduced Business VoiceEdge integration to provide a less cumbersome way for Office 365 users to make phone calls. Comcast is providing integration with its cloud phone service at no additional cost.
The latest Outlook integration lets users make phone calls while reading and responding to email. That should save time, because corporate employees regularly use the email client. Also, adding calling to Outlook provides access within a familiar interface.
The Office 365 announcement marks the third integration this year between Business VoiceEdge and a third-party product. In March 2017, Comcast announced integration between VoiceEdge and Skype for Business and Google Chrome.
VoiceEdge in Skype for Business provides functionality similar to the Office 365 integration. Within Skype for Business, users right-click on a contact and then select "call" to make a phone call. Also, users can call directly from a Skype messaging session.
VoiceEdge for Google Chrome provides similar services to the web browser. VoiceEdge adds its call functionality to Gmail, Google Calendar, personal contacts and any business websites a user visits while browsing in Chrome.
Comcast is searching for customers in a unified communications (UC) market dominated by Cisco and Microsoft, which also provide cloud phone services. UC as a service (UCaaS) in the United States comprises 26% of the UC market, according to research firm IHS Inc., based in London. A quarter of U.S. organizations use UC services within a private cloud and the remainder deploy UC software on premises. In 2018, the use of on-premises applications will shrink 8%, while private cloud-based UC will jump 3% and UCaaS will rise 5%.
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