Revisiting Empathic AI

Researchers have been working to understand the subtleties of human emotion and are actively developing AI systems that try to mimic or mirror those accurately. What progress has been made with this so-called Artificial Empathy or what has become known as Empathic or Empathetic AI? What use cases are emerging? What solutions are already on the market? (more…)



The Hybrid Workplace: A Stepping Stone or the Future of Work?

Here we are in 2021. The pandemic is finally subsiding, and we are inching our way back to our physical offices. Organizations have been steadily announcing their strategies for a return to the workplace in a hybrid model that supports both in-office and remote employees. While most industry pundits and organizations are convinced the future of work will be a hybrid model, some experts are sharing a different perspective, and they have some valid points. Behavioral scientist, Jon Levy, purports that the hybrid workplace probably won’t last, and eventually, nearly everyone will go back to the office. (more…)



Cloud Collaboration: Holding It Together in 2020

Quarter by quarter in 2020, businesses faced government-imposed restrictions and limitations that caused significant and unexpected challenges to their operations. Nonetheless, there were some “silver linings.” Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) providers rallied to help their peers and customers by offering free services and waiving fees to ease financial hardship. New skills were learned, and new business practices adopted as digital transformation became necessary for survival. The concept of a hybrid workforce began to trend, and new solutions emerged to help companies return employees safely to the workplace. Business communications vendors and service providers began to think outside the box, resulting in creative technological advances and innovations that are making remote collaboration just as seamless and effective as in-person, face-to-face meetings. (more…)



Providing the Glue

In a look back over our weekly business communications coverage throughout third quarter (3Q) 2020, one company consistently made the headlines – video conferencing provider, Zoom. The events of 2020 have changed nearly everything for all of us. Businesses shut their doors due to the COVID-19 crisis, conferences were cancelled and travel ceased. Many found themselves suddenly working from home. Cloud-based video conferencing services quickly became “the glue” that held us together, making it possible for businesses, schools, churches and other organizations to carry on while being physically distant from managers, co-workers and clients. (more…)



Looking Ahead: UC&C Vendors Address the Return to Work

Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) and other enterprise technology vendors are beginning to look forward to a return to business. It’s a relief to see phrases like “preparing for coronavirus recovery” and “managing work's new normal” and “in a post-pandemic workplace,” as we have been through a much longer than anticipated lull in our lives, both professionally and personally. Business operations and relationships will be different, and there will be a lot of adapting to new ways of working and doing business, but looking forward is just what is needed now. (more…)



Finding the Positive

Nearly every news story lately is related to the worldwide COVID-19 virus outbreak. This includes announcements from the business communications vendors we’ve been tracking for years. Most are offering some type of free video, team collaboration, VoIP, or other communications service for a limited time, as a way to help businesses adjust to a newly remote workforce. Technological advances and adoption of cloud-based services are making these virtual offerings possible. Remote working has likely just taken a huge step forward in becoming the norm. (more…)



Partnerships Trump Acquisitions

M&A is ongoing among vendors active in unified communications (UC) and related technology areas. We counted nine mergers in Q4 among the vendors on our research radar, bringing the total to about 30 for 2019 (not quite what we saw in 2018 when the number of acquisitions among the UC vendors we track was closer to 45). Perhaps more notable, however, are the growing number of partnerships. Vendors are combining expertise to create new solutions in the areas of cloud migration, contact center, video, networking, analytics and software development, and more. (more…)



New Visions, New Directions, New Integrations

A look back at 2019 reveals big changes in the business communications industry. Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) are ongoing in the unified communications (UC) and related technology areas. Partnerships are surging. Contact Center continues to be front and center. Vendors are responding to trends around Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS). Here are our top announcement picks for each quarter of 2019. (more…)



UC Industry, Rapid Transformation

Unified Communications (UC) vendors and providers were active in the second quarter of 2019, particularly in the area of contact center as new cloud-based solutions continue to roll out at a rapid pace, with some internally developed, but many added through partnerships and mergers. Newer UCaaS entrants are making progress, and yet another round of UC-related consolidations (8 in 2Q) extend the reach of the acquiring company into new technology areas or new markets. (more…)



Expanding Portfolios, Transparency & Trust

Acquisitions create confusion, and existing customers will have questions. While many recent mergers aim to eliminate some of the competition or fold new technologies into existing products, other mergers expand the acquirer’s portfolio with a new product line or new service that enables the acquirer to reach into an adjacent market segment. In the aftermath of a merger, openness and transparency on the part of the acquirer is important for building and maintaining good customer relations – and for securing their continued trust. (more…)



Consolidations Continue

The third quarter of 2018 witnessed another round of significant M&A activity as business communications vendors look to broaden portfolios, expand into new markets and, in some cases, eliminate the competition. The following summarizes three of the most notable 3Q18 consolidations in the unified communications (UC) space as these mark, in our view, the potential to significantly improve the acquirer’s position in the market. (more…)



Contact Center: Updates, Mergers, Entries

In a look back over the first half of 2018, Contact Center topped the list of new solutions announced by the business communications vendors on our radar. Three trends are bringing change to this market: Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS). (more…)



Integrating with Team Apps, New Possibilities

Team collaboration is a fast-emerging category that continues to evolve in the form of stand-alone tools for teamwork, but we’re also beginning to see the integration of team capabilities into other business communications applications. More here on new integrations from RingCentral, Microsoft, Avaya and 8x8, and the use cases they create. (more…)



Our Research Radar: 2018

As we continue to watch the evolution and adoption of team collaboration apps (and the other trends on last year's watch list), we’ll have three additional areas on our research radar for 2018: subscription-based pricing for on-premises telephony equipment, new business communications solutions around artificial intelligence (AI), and the surety of more vendor consolidation. (more…)



A Year in SMB

More options are always a good thing, and in that sense, 2017 was a good year for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) seeking new business communications solutions. A significant number of vendors zeroed in on the SMB opportunity in 2017, introducing a new SMB-focused unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) offering or a new small-scale IP-PBX system during the year. (more…)



Simplifying the On-Premises Payment Model

Traditional telephony equipment vendors are looking at ways to simplify the buying process for customers that opt for an on-site installation. Several vendors on our radar are offering subscription-based pricing for their premises-based telephony systems similar to the recurring, OPEX payment models of their cloud-based UC alternatives. (more…)



Tide is Turning

During the recent Enterprise Connect event in Orlando, FL, more than 180 vendors showcased their software, services and equipment around the cloud, team and social collaboration, business application integration (APIs), contact center, analytics and other trends. The tide is turning away from traditional, on-premises telephony (the PBX or IP-PBX) and toward cloud-based communications and collaboration. (more…)



Despite the Cloud, Part III

The year 2017 started with a bang with respect to new premises-based telephony solutions hitting the market. Four vendors on our radar have introduced new on-site hardware in recent weeks. Each addresses a different target or niche market, and each recognizes the value of offering a full spectrum of deployments – cloud, premises and hybrid. (more…)



On Our Radar for 2017

The challenges and requirements of the modern workplace are bringing about the need for new business communications solutions. Read more on three of the trends that will be on our radar in 2017 – team collaboration apps, SD-WAN as it relates to the cloud UC experience and next-gen office desk phones – as business communications vendors race to keep pace with the changing ways we work. (more…)



SD-WAN Meets Cloud UC

Software-defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) has been making big headlines lately as the next frontier for enterprise networking and a better approach to handling the high-bandwidth requirements of the modern workplace, including the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications for information technologies (IT) and unified communications and collaboration (UC&C). (more…)



Getting On Board with Team Collaboration

Team collaboration applications are emerging as an effective way to communicate, collaborate and manage projects. A range of team-based tools are now available, including many on the market for years from cloud providers. The established telecom manufacturers are quickly getting on board too with new team apps that are easily accessed as subscription-based cloud services. (more…)



3 Cloud Trends to Watch in 2016

Acceptance and adoption of hosted/cloud solutions for business telephony and unified communications is well underway as businesses, small to large, recognize the benefits in subscribing to unified communications "as-a-service" (UCaaS) versus purchasing and installing hardware and software on-site. Here are three trends to watch as the business communications market continues its transition toward the cloud in 2016. (more…)



Revisiting the Hybrid Cloud

Recent market studies validate the shift toward hosted/cloud UC in general, but also highlight a growing preference for "hybrid cloud-premises" implementations. In our research last fall, we highlighted hybrid cloud-premises solutions from a number of business communications vendors on our radar. Since then, more hybrid cloud solutions have entered the market, including from 3CX, Avaya, Cisco, Digium, Microsoft, Mitel, NEC, ShoreTel, Tadiran Telecom, Toshiba, Unify and Vertical. (more…)



Watching the Shift toward Cloud Contact Center

Data from a number of market research firms confirms that cloud-based contact center solutions are increasingly becoming the preferred deployment model. Organizational discussions about cloud contact center have shifted from "if" cloud is the right strategy to "how" best to integrate cloud solutions. (more…)



Desk Phones in 2015: A Contrast

A look at new desk phones in 2015 reveals a significant contrast to the same period the year before, with far fewer new desk phones entering the market. Perhaps a few more desk phones will make their debut in 2015, but in general, it seems that business communications vendors are slowing down on the manufacturer of new hardware-based devices. (more…)



Despite the Cloud

Despite the undeniable migration toward cloud-based unified communications (UC), a significant number of new premises-based IP-PBX systems entered the market in 2014 (and early 2015). Business communications manufacturers are working hard to build out their cloud UC offers, but they also continue to enhance hardware and software for on-site deployments, and over the past year, many of these vendors introduced new IP-PBX systems that extend their reach into additional market segments. (more…)



Verticals and the Cloud

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) continues to gain in popularity, and analyst findings indicate that adoption within a variety of verticals is accelerating, including in the contact center, healthcare and education market segments which are on track to have very large growth within the next five years. Cloud UC provider TeleSpeak and contact center provider Voice4Net are two vendors collaborating to develop cloud-based services that specifically address these high growth industries. (more…)



Cloud UC: Moving Up-market

More and more Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) providers are beginning to report a growing interest in hosted/cloud UC from mid-size and larger organizations. Analyst firms studying the UCaaS market also confirm a trend up-market. See how three particular providers, 8x8, NEC and RingCentral, are eyeing opportunities in the mid-market and larger enterprise space. (more…)



The Hybrid Cloud Opportunity

It's an exciting time in the business telephony and UC market as we witness the shift toward subscription-based hosted/cloud services for telephony and UC. In this transitional period, subscribing to hosted/cloud services for some applications and using on-site solutions for others is a win-win for businesses and for the vendors that serve them. Read about new hybrid cloud-prem offers from Alcatel-Lucent, NEC, ShoreTel, Tadiran, Toshiba and Zultys. (more…)



Cloud Partner Programs Emerge

New partner programs focused on selling cloud-based telephony and UC solutions are emerging. The programs are designed to provide training, tools and flexible compensation models that will encourage partners to add subscription-based services to their traditional telephony equipment portfolios. Read about new programs from Digium, ESI, Fonality and ShoreTel. (more…)



Desk Phones Here to Stay, for Now

There has been a lot of debate about the future of the office desktop telephone. Are traditional desktop phones slowly being replaced by the growing preference for mobile devices, or will workers actually require multiple device options, including a desk phone, for the foreseeable future? The large number of new desktop IP phones showcased at the 2014 Enterprise Connect conference indicates that desk phones are here to stay, at least for now. (more…)



Cloud UC Going Strong

Traditional telephony manufacturers continue to move into the hosted/cloud UC market, with many now offering their premises-based telephony solutions as a subscription-based service. A number of vendors, including Interactive Intelligence, Mitel and ShoreTel, are reporting positive financials from the cloud side of their business. Read more on these encouraging financial reports and more on some of the latest cloud UC entries. (more…)



Simplifying the SMB Phone Solution Purchase

How can a business bypass the typical business phone solution purchase and concentrate on what's most important - integrating unified communications solutions that will streamline operations, make employees more productive and improve customer service, all of which lead to more business revenue? Fonality has an answer. (more…)



Taking Your Business to the Next Level

VoIP technology has advanced business communications at a rapid pace, and there is no shortage of solutions and services to meet any business requirement. So, how do you choose the VoIP solution that's right for your business? What should you look for when upgrading your communications equipment or purchasing a new solution or service? It's not easy as there are many factors to evaluate, but below are some important considerations to help get you started. (more…)



Enterprise Connect 2013: New Cloud UC Services Launched

The Enterprise Connect Conference and Expo is the premiere forum for enterprise communications vendors to highlight their latest and greatest unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) products and services. Here, we zoom in on new Cloud UC services launched at the event from Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Interactive Intelligence, Microsoft (AT&T and HP partnerships) and Mitel (Sprint partnership). (more…)



Microsoft Lync 2013: What's New, What's Next?

Microsoft has released the latest version of its unified communications (UC) software, Lync 2013, with some new products and solutions already available and some set to roll out over the next 18 months. New solutions include Lync mobile clients that support voice and video, Lync-Skype federation and Lync Meeting Room Systems for video conferencing. Read more on the timeline for what's new and what's ahead for Lync 2013. (more…)



Traditional Business Telephony Vendors Add Cloud UC

Today's businesses want options when it comes to choosing a telephony solution, and many are carefully looking into whether a hosted telephony service or the purchase of an on-premises system makes more sense for their particular business requirements. Traditional business telephony vendors are quickly getting into the game, adding hosted UC services to their portfolio of premises-based IP-PBX, contact center, messaging and other UC solutions. (more…)



Desktop IP Phones Still an Important Alternative

With the proliferation of mobile phone devices, there has been a lot of debate about the future of the office desktop telephone. Plenty of studies show that more and more employees are coming to work equipped with their own mobile phone and how "bring your own device" or BYOD is the general trend. Nevertheless, the desktop telephone remains an important alternative for high quality audio and the ease of handling some functions that are difficult or not possible with a laptop/headset, smartphone or tablet. (more…)



Apple iPad Support: The Race is On

Leading communications vendors continue to introduce UC clients running on computers and popular consumer mobile devices, addressing the 'bring your own device' or BYOD trend that has become unstoppable as more and more employees favor using their own smartphone or tablet for both personal and business communications. Earlier this year, Avaya announced the Flare Communicator for iPad tablets as the first version of the Avaya Flare technology on a consumer tablet device. (more…)



Small Businesses Want Big Business Features

When choosing a new IP phone system, today’s small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) want high value phone system features that will improve productivity and collaboration and streamline their operation - ultimately resulting in better customer service that translates into more revenue. In short, small businesses want big business features. (more…)



New IP Phone Systems 2011 – a Chronology

A review of 2011 releases from the established telecom manufacturers reveals that the majority of the new IP phone systems that entered the market were again aimed at small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). It is well-known in most all world regions that smaller enterprises represent the largest and fastest growing business segment, and as such, are driving innovation. So it is no surprise that telecom manufacturers and service providers continue to make SMBs a particular focus as they introduce new IP phone systems, user devices and applications. (more…)



Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Embracing the Trend

Consumer mobile devices continue to find their way into the workplace as more and more employees are coming to work equipped with their own mobile phone. This trend, dubbed “Bring your own device” or BYOD, is clearly unstoppable. In fact, a 2011 Forrester Research survey of 1,681 U.S.-based workers indicated that the number of workers using consumer devices, such as Android-based smartphones or the Apple iPhone, for work-related purposes is certainly on the rise. (more…)



The Right Phone

There is a lot of talk about Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) telephones. These phones continue to gain ground due to a wide market reach and interoperability with a variety of SIP-compatible phone systems such as those from Avaya, Cisco, Digium, Mitel, NEC, Toshiba and Vertical, to name only a few, but also service provider hosted phone systems from BroadSoft, Metaswitch and others. (more…)



Web Conferencing, In-house vs. Hosted, the ROI

The current trend toward a more distributed and more global business environment has been well-discussed. The number of remote workers and telecommuters is growing fast, and at the same time, there is the expectation that we are on-call and available 24x7. Web and video conferencing is a natural fit since it enables a viable alternative to travel, effectively allowing colleagues and customers to communicate with ease, anytime and from anywhere. (more…)



Smartphones and Tablets Take Center Stage

Looking back over 2010, there were a host of new products and applications introduced into the business telephony market, including new VoIP desktop telephones and softphones and new applications related to contact center, conferencing, messaging, mobility, presence and video. Also, some new trends emerged such as voice virtualization, a stepping stone toward cloud-based services, and new user experiences or so-called personal workspaces that utilize tablet devices. (more…)



Voice Virtualization and True Convergence

Virtualization technology is advancing rapidly. It well-known in the IT space, but for voice communications, virtualization is just taking off. Several leading telecom manufacturers have announced virtualized telephony solutions for larger businesses that allow their enterprise-level call control software to run with their own voice applications on a single virtualized platform. (more…)



Media Phone vs. UC Client?

In recent months, a number of leading communications vendors have introduced new multimedia desktop phones that integrate a telephone with video and/or Internet content and even access to popular social media applications. With so many of these new devices making a debut, it seems that the new media phone market is poised to take off. And, it’s not just the business communications market. Service providers, too, are rolling out media phones, but to the consumer market. (more…)