UCaaS – Platform Enabled Social Collaboration SaaS

This SearchUC article provides an awesome overview of the core ideals behind the Cloud Roadmap, in particular the opportunity for entrepreneurs to launch new standalone startup ventures, as well as for Cloud Service Providers to adopt vendor products and launch new XaaS offerings.

UCaaS refers to Unified Communications as a Service, and the article describes how one of the leading vendors Vidyo has launched Vidyo.io, their own direct implementation of this approach.

Aspiring SaaS entrepeneurs could work with UC vendors to launch an equivalent offering.

UCaaS is a powerful product set for any size of Cloud solution provider to offer, because it facilitates one of the most fundamental, staple units of modern work production for any and every organization, their basic telephony expanding through project collaboration and teaming methods.

Skype has now been long established as the ubiquitous Internet VoIP and video calling toolset, catering for the Free market upwards, and so naturally as you progress into more sophisticated requirements and scenarios like Enterprise and Healthcare, a more advanced set of services and features are required, the essence of the product segmentation exercise central to UCaaS market planning.

The scale of the opportunity is conveyed by recent industry events such as the mammoth Fuze $104m funding round, or how Snap is a $1 BILLION customer for AWS!

With messaging being one functional component part of a UCaaS suite then this means you can consider these dimensions, like how these social messaging apps scale to such large volumes and what interpersonal dynamics they tap into as well, are all key to identifying niche segments and product market fit.

Fuze describes how one feature of their service is that it can be integrated into apps like Salesforce.com and Gmail, highlighting examples of the types of features that then start to tailor it for specific customers like the Enterprise market.

Platform API and CEBP Transformation

It also highlights the critical dimension of strategic product planning for new SaaS entrepreneurs, the emergence of the ‘Platform Business Model’, an approach headlined by the use of APIs to make your service extensible and integrable with other applications, also described as enabling the ‘API Economy‘.

For the Enterprise market opportunity this is especially important, as integration into their legacy estate of applications is often a critical requirement.

This is especially so for the visionary adopters who are looking to harness its potential not just for improved worker communications but for full transformation of business processes, what is defined as ‘CEBP’ – Communications Enabled Business Process.

Again a series of articles from Search provide excellent insights into this trend:

Other vendors in this space include like TokBox, Twilio, Plivo and VoxImplant.

Social Collaboration and Virtual Teams

This transformational potential is maximized further when combined with enterprise social technologies and new, innovative ways of working.

McKinsey provide great insights into this effect, describing Transforming the Business Through Social Tools.

In their articles Building the Social Enterprise and Organizing for Change through Social Technologies they identify that up to $1.3 trillion in annual value could be unlocked simply through increased use of enterprise social, and that this could be achieved through formally embedding it into business processes and making more use of it to engage with customers and partners, to become what they describe as ‘fully networked enterprises’.

There are a wide variety of vendor tools available for this capability, from major vendors like Cisco, who offer products for enabling teams to Optimize Performance through collaboration, and offer a great case study of their own use of the technology.

Intel offer this white paper: Evolving Social Computing and Collaboration in the Enterprise.

UCaaS Market Insights

To further refine a product positioning exercise, a number of main industry trends, market needs and influencing factors can be considered:

  • Technology – Trends like NFV won’t be seen by end user customers or be important to their feature wish lists, but given it’s essential, complimentary nature to UCaaS solutions, will become an increasingly bigger part of scenarios such as the Enterprise, as they too shift to SDN for their own networking. This relationship is described in this excellent, highly recommended UC Strategies blog, and NFV expert Tom Nolle shares an insightful product mapping, explaining the difference between Cloud Voice and NFV-based services.
  • Security – Blackberry were criticized by Twilio for their recent move to release a Secure Messaging SDK market strategy, but it’s not an inconquential idea given the refreshed view of messaging security and the likelihood of increased scrutiny in this area through policies like the UK’s ‘Snooper’s Charter’.
  • Enterprise Collaboration – The bread and butter of the sector is the core suite of tools for the small and large business market, and is naturally very aggressively contested by a number of major players, all continually bringing new features and innovations to market, such as Google launching Hangouts Chat, their competitor to Slack, revamping Drive with Filestream , and also enhancing it with encryption and data loss prevention features for the Enterprise market.
  • Slackbots – The recurring theme for the Enteprise is the same one for Entrepreneurs – APIs and programmability. Ultimately the goal is to utilise telephony and collaboration functions to fulfil an overall business process of some kind, and new automation innovations synthesizing multiple tools together, can yield exciting new service capabilities such as integrating Slack chatbots with SAP enterprise systems, enabling this powerful trend to be applied to your organizations specific processes.
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