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8x8: Crossing the Enterprise Chasm

As 8x8 works to accomplish its stated goal of moving upmarket, from its position as an SMB cloud UC player to a provider of enterprise-grade enterprise communications solutions, the company has had a strong 2015 to date.

One of the most visible steps 8x8 has taken to position itself for the predicted move to the cloud by larger and larger firms is the addition of key executives to the management team. In the last year, CMO Enzo Signore arrived fresh from an acting-CMO stint at Avaya, and SVP Global Sales Puneet Arora brought 10+ years of enterprise cloud selling experience from LivePerson and Salesforce.

Another key element to enterprise success is a solid contact center suite. Many small businesses (around 50 to 200 employees) have a need for some level of contact center functionality. But with higher employee counts, the probability that contact center will be part of the equation increases dramatically. 8x8's customer base now includes hundreds of customers with more than 250 employees and 130 with more than 1,000 employees.

8x8's first move to tightly integrate contact center with its unified communications suite came in 2011 with purchase of Contactual, a cloud-based solution it had been reselling since 2007. This January, 8x8 announced integration of its Virtual Office and Virtual Contact Center offerings and, in the last week, it has made two additional acquisitions that provide capabilities larger contact centers typically require: quality monitoring and predictive outbound.

Presenting during a June 4 financial analyst event, 8x8 executives said the company expects to deliver revenue growth of 24% to 27% in fiscal 2016 (ending March 31, 2016), including revenue from the new acquisitions.

8x8 is not alone in its goal of integrating contact center and UC suites. Next week at Interactions 2015, Interactive Intelligence is expected to formally announce the addition of a contact center application, called Engage, to the communications and collaboration features already available in its multitenant solution, PureCloud. A month ago, RingCentral announced its partnership with inContact to deliver an integrated UC and contact center offer.

These vendors are preparing for a market that wants multitenant cloud UC and contact center tightly integrated from a single source. They're building the solutions; it remains to be seen if enterprise customers will come. It also remains to be seen what share of the possible prize these all-cloud providers will win versus traditional players like Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, and Unify that are improving their cloud portfolios.

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