Lots of Room for Revenue in UCaaS

According to Synergy Research Group, the UCaaS market continues to grow in the US at an astounding 29% a year.  Retail UCaaS services account for well over 80% of the total market. The UCaaS market is now generating revenues exceeding $400 million per quarter and approaching $2 billion annually.

While the big guys like Ring Central, 8×8, Mitel, Broadsoft, and Vonage continue to duke it out at the top, there is plenty of market share available for those resellers who deliver a more personalized service to businesses in their local area. This is particularly true as smaller businesses, who have little or no dedicated IT personnel, migrate to UCaaS and Hosted PBX. This is becoming an under-served market as market leaders move to serving larger businesses and enterprises.

“UCaaS continues to provide a richer and more cost effective collaborative communication system for businesses globally,” said Jeremy Duke, Synergy Research Group’s founder and Chief Analyst. “We are also seeing an up-market acceleration of UCaaS adoption, moving from serving mostly smaller sized organizations now to gaining traction in businesses of over 100 seats and over 1,000 seats. Given that the displacement of premise PBXs remains low today, there is ample ground for UCaaS to find strong growth in displacing these legacy systems over a long stretch of time.”

Now We’re Really Excited! Yealink Releases T54S And T52S Globally

You may remember back on May 30th when Corey Stoker, SkySwitch Director of Support, posted his unboxing videos for the T52S and T54S phones from Yealink.  Now, after a long 90 day wait, Yealink has announced that the T54S and T52S are now available worldwide.

Yealink C are members of the T5 Media Phone Series which provides an all-in-one solution for business of all sizes. The series brings together high-definition voice, video and various application capabilities. With enhanced HD video and audio technologies as well as an intuitive interface, the phones are ideal desktop communication tools for today’s busy executives and professionals in various vertical markets.

As a leader in the hosted UCaaS market, SkySwitch was among the first providers to get advanced versions of these phones.  They have been thoroughly tested with our platform and are available to SkySwitch Resellers. Through our partnership with 888VoIP, these phones and be purchased, provisioned, and drop shipped directly from the SkySwitch Dashmanager.

Jon Arnold Talks about Voice Assistants in the Workplace

Our friend Jon Arnold of J Arnold & Associates held an interesting webinar discussing the key drivers of digital assistants –  a term that he uses to include voice assistants (like Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa) and chatbots – used for business.  He was kind enough to mention the SkySwitch Amazon Alexa skill as an example of how voice assistants are  migrating from the home to the office.  Check it out here @ 36:44.

SkySwitch is Now Integrated with ReachUC Mobile and Desktop Apps

We are pleased to announce that SkySwitch is now integrated with ReachUC, a suite of advanced UC applications and tools.  This integration is the our latest attempt to develop a viable soft-client replacement for the traditional SIP deskphone, and represents what we believe to be the cutting edge of what is possible with available technology.  

With ReachUC and the SkySwitch UCaaS platform, end users can now access common functionality  from their SIP deskphone, mobile app, or desktop environment.  Supported features include secure VoIP, Video, and GSM calling, SMS and text chat with business line, PBX presence and contact management, web conferencing, fax sending, and push notifications. Future enhancements include support for XMPP and group messaging with Slack. The application is  available on  Apple iOS and Android mobile devices as well as Mac and Windows desktops.   

Apple iPhone users benefit from ReachUC support for Apple CallKit, a newly released API construct by Apple that gives the ReachUC iOS app a native look and feel and allows it to responds appropriately to system-level behaviors such as Do Not Disturb and Answer from Lock Screen.   CallKit brings the user experience for iPhone users up to par with Android, which has allowed VoIP apps to access the native dialer for nearly two years.

ReachUC also includes tools that extend PBX features to several popular desktop applications,  including a click-to-call extension for Google Chrome, and a plug-in to place calls, synchronize contacts and send faxes from Microsoft Outlook.

To commemorate this milestone, I created a short video that highlights the major features of the integration.

New Developments at SkySwitch

At SkySwitch, we are always improving the Reseller experience.  Here are some of the things that we have been working on recently:

New UC Endpoints – Our efforts to integrate the ReachUC endpoint solution into the SkySwitch platform is proceeding as planned, and is available to all SkySwitch resellers as a beta trial.  Current features of the ReachUC solution when used with SkySwitch include:  Support for iOS and Android mobile and Windows and MacOS desktop systems; messaging with SMS integration; PBX Presence and Contact Management, Faxing, Video Calling; Web Callback, and integrations for Microsoft Outlook, Google Chrome and WordPress.    For more information on features, visit the ReachUC website at http://www.reachuc.com.  We expect the ReachUC integration to be ready for general availability before the end of July.

Email-to-fax –  The ability to initiate a fax from an email has been a recurring feature request among users of our virtual fax solution.  This capability is finally available and can be used in conjunction with existing fax portal and ATA accounts.   A support announcement will be sent within the coming days with instructions for use.

Spanish and French System Prompts – We recently simplified the way that Spanish and French system prompts are managed in the system.  Now it is possible to provide multi-language Spanish, French and English IVR and voicemail to your customer base with just a few simple configuration changes.

International DIDs – SkySwitch can now provide international DIDs from more than 59 countries worldwide.  Currently, orders for international DIDs can be made via a form in the DID Portal section of the reseller dashboard.  In the very near future, you will be able to order and provision international DIDs in real-time, as is currently the case for US DIDs.

VSaaS Improvements – Our VSaaS platform is getting better every month.  It now supports multi-view, which means that multiple cameras can be monitored and managed from a single page in the web app. We have also introduced a new version of the mobile app in the Android and iOS stores. This was a major release on mobile and included:  brand new mobile player using real time protocols;  faster start time to view live video; and reduced lag.

New Products in SkySwitch Store – Through our partnership with 888VoIP, we continue to add new products to the SkySwitch store.  The latest additions include the Yealink T5 series phones and Patton ATAs.  As with all VoIP endpoints in the store, resellers can purchase and configure all systems from a single page, making it easier than ever to drop-ship plug and play units directly to a customer.

As always, SkySwitch is working to make you more competitive in the UCaaS market.  Existing resellers should contact the SkySwitch Control Tower for more information about any of the enhancements mentioned here.

Mitel Plays Catch-up With The Acquisition of Toshiba Corporation’s Unified Communications Business

Way back in March we first heard about the demise of the Toshiba Telecommunications Systems Division and wrote a blog post about it. A Memorandum of Understanding between Mitel and Toshiba stating that Mitel would acquire certain assets, inventory and support obligations from Toshiba Corporation’s Unified Communications business was signed two months later. After another twoTmonth wait, the deal is finally done.  Toshiba resellers now get to hitch their wagon to yet another dinosaur of telecom. These old-guard companies are trying hang on to any business they can.

You cannot rely on any partner 100%

I’m sure that many Toshiba resellers have been using the “wait and see” approach to this news and merger.  That has been four months of uncertainty and doubt.  This is exactly why you need a back-up provider when offering white label service.  Whether you are reselling service from a large established partner, or you are reselling service from one of the newer UCaaS providers, you never know when disaster will strike. Your partner may disappear, either permanently or for an extended outage.  You must have a back-up provider with a migration plan in place. Otherwise, someone else’s disaster may quickly become your demise.

Bigger is not always better

We have seen the many of the largest players in premise and hosted telecom undergo major changes.  Some of them have declared bankruptcy and disappear completely. Mergers and acquisitions have swallowed others. When searching for a White Label Partner (either as a primary or secondary provider) don’t be afraid of smaller providers. They often have substantial advantages over some of the more familiar UCaaS providers. Newer providers were founded, designed, and implemented to provide these kinds of hosted services. They are not dealing with legacy business models, customers, or infrastructure. 

When it’s time to find a new white label partner for your hosted telecom or UCaaS business, we would love to show you the SkySwitch Platform.  Schedule a Demo Today!

The Zero Refresh Cycle – The Unique Differentiator of Hosted PBX For Which There Is No Defense

It’s no secret that premise-based telephone systems and PBXs are going away. Even so, old habits die hard and it can still be a challenge to get some corporate types and business owners to give up on their old phone systems and make the leap to a hosted solution. Up selling the zero refresh cycle of a hosted PBX may be key to closing the deal.

There are many reasons why they stick with aging systems. They don’t want to risk any interruption in their business operations that may come with new technology deployment. They have capital budget, so they would rather use it to make incremental changes, expansions, and upgrades to the existing system. It could just be a case of “better the devil you know then the one you don’t”

Convince these laggards that the time to change is now.

In the 1984 movie “The Karate Kid” Mr. Miagi is seen performing a martial art move called “The Crane Technique.” Daniel asks, “Does it Work?” Miagi replies, “If Do Right, No Can Defense.”

The Crane Technique For Selling Hosted PBX

When presented properly, I believe that the Zero Refresh Cycle argument may be “The Crane Technique” of closing a deal for a hosted PBX. One thing any company cannot allow to happen is to be left behind technologically. In the past most phone systems were kept in service at least 10 years. How do you move someone who is planning to purchase premise based to a hosted solution. Remind them what did not existing 10 years ago when they purchased their current PBX: Smart Phones, Google Maps, Chat Bots, Cloud Storage, WebRTC, and more are all technologies that a PBX/Communications System should integrate with in order to smooth communications and provide outstanding customer service. We can’t even imagine the technology that our PBX/Communications system may have to integrate with in the next 10 years.

To be left behind technologically is to risk being put out of business.

Perhaps this is the most compelling reason for moving to a hosted solution. The hosted provider must make sure that the platform always has the most up-to-date and integrated feature set. That way, letting left behind technologically becomes a non-issue for the businesses that utilize the service. As a result, your clients can stay focused on their core business. They never need to worry about what technology their competitors are using that can put them out of business.

PS: There is no good word in the English language that means “For Which There Is No Defense”

Makeup your mind Avaya – Hardware or Software

Back in January, Avaya filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  When asked why, their Corporate Treasure, John Sullivan explained that after examining their debt “we decided it was a critical next step in our transformation from a hardware company to a software and services company and the best path forward for our customers, partners and employees.”

Guys…Phones are hardware!

They shed some significant assets in March with the sale of their networking business to Extreme Networks but basically, it has been all quite in the newsroom regarding their aforementioned transformation.  That is until May 31, when they announced their foray into a NEW market.  And what is that exciting new venture…SIP Phones!  YAY!  Psst…Guys…Phones are hardware, not “software and services.”

Avaya Vantage Device

Avaya + BroadSoft?

What is even more odd is that the press release says that these phones are being offered in collaboration with and tested for interoperability with BroadSoft.  And BroadSoft has had a campaign in place for a number of months offering Avaya customers a smooth migration from premise-based solutions to a cloud solution.  Is this just BroadSoft taking advantage of Avaya’s lack of foresight? Is Avaya just trying to hold on to any piece of the business they can? Perhaps this a prelude to these two companies eventually becoming one.

Whatever the real plan or outcome is, Avaya was late to the game realizing that premise-based systems are going away.  Many other hardware companies are in the same boat, creating a huge opportunity for agents and white label resellers of hosted services.   All of these companies customers are (or soon will be) available as premise systems age into obsolescence.  Companies need a communications system and hosted is the way of the future.

The New Yealink Phones Are Here! The New Yealink Phones Are Here!

So maybe we’re not quite as excited as Navin Johnson was when he got his new phone book,

but it’s pretty damn close.  SkySwitch has received “advanced shipments” of the new Yealink T52S and T54S phones.  These phones are not scheduled for official released by YeaLink until Q3 so Corey Stoker, SkySwitch Director of Support was very excited to share these new phones with you.  He has created an exclusive, sneak peek unboxing video for each phone.

I don’t want to reveal any spoilers and ruin the videos for you, but Corey is “The Master of All Details” and has done a very thorough comparison of the T52S and T54S to their predecessors, the T42 andT46.  He’s gotten into lots of details, even noting the difference between the feet on these phones and the older models.

Once these phones are officially released, SkySwitch will be getting them into our SkySwitch Reseller Portal where SkySwitch resellers can order, no-touch provision, and dropship these hot new phones to their customers.  You can read more about how that process works in this blog post.

Enjoy the Videos

Click Here For the T52S Unboxing Video

Click Here For the T54S Unboxing Video

BroadSoft Eats Its Own: The Death of the Channel?

BroadSoft just announce the commercial release of their Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) product. They are now one more in a long line of hardware vendors that have turned on their channel by going into the very service business that their products enable. In short, BroadSoft is now in competition with the very customers that have purchased BroadSoft products in the past.

This Has Happened Before

This is not the first time this has happened. Nearly a decade ago, Digium acquired SwitchVox in a similar move. For those not familiar with that transaction, Digium is “the benevolent caretaker” of the Asterisk project. Asterisk delivers an Open Source IP-PBX. Digium provides Asterisk Training and Certification, as well as all the “surround stuff” (PSTN Interface Cards, IP-Phones, Gateways, etc.) that someone who wants to deploy Asterisk would need. They have built a large and loyal channel of people who sell, deploy, and service IP-PBX’s built from the Asterisk project. SwitchVox is a commercially deployed IP-PBX built from Asterisk. It significantly extends Asterisk by adding integrations such as UC Functions, a Graphic User Interface, and screen pops and integration with a number of popular CRM products. So with the acquisition of SwitchVox, Digium became the owner of a product that was directly competitive with the channel partners they supported.

Sangoma (a competitor of Digium) made a similar move a little over two years ago, when they purchased PBXact (a competitor of SwitchVox). So just like Digium, they became competitive with the resellers that are part of their channel.

Who Does It Help, Who Does It Hurt

It hard to know if and who the implementation of this strategy benefits and hurts. Ten years later, Digium and SwitchVox are still going strong. Sangoma’s stock price has more than doubled since their acquisition of PBXact . But who really knows how many of their partners were driven out of business by these moves.

So now BroadSoft embarks down the path of Eating Is Own Channel. Peter Radizenski at Rad-Info recently quoted an BSFT client, “BSFT will force every customer to be on their cloud platform at some point.” He also added a comment to a recent LinkedIn thread on the subject, “it would be better for all if BSFT wasn’t competing with its own customers and selling direct to users at $15 per seat. That smells of desperation.”

Fighting the Trend

If you are a White Label Provider of a service, you need to make sure you provide something more than simply basic service.  You must be ready to deal with the day when someone else, or even your once trusted partner, decides to try and take your business by simply undercutting you on price. To combat this, you should develop specialized knowledge of how your customer does business within their vertical.  You can also enhance the basic service with specialized API integration or provide additional services from other partners.  Simply developing a solid and trusted business relationship with your customer can protect your revenue stream.  With these tactics, you can help to ensure your success, even in the face of ongoing downward price pressure.

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