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8x8 Updates XCaaS Platform with Eye on Hybrid Workforce
8x8 this week revealed mobility, meeting, and voice integration enhancements for the XCaaS platform it introduced in May along with its “experience communications-as-a-service” vision of bringing UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS together.
As Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst of COMMfusion, explained in a No Jitter post following the initial XCaaS announcement, bringing together distinct services into an integrated platform isn’t a new idea for 8x8, nor competitors like Avaya, Vonage, and Edify, but the XCaaS label is “clever” new branding. With XCaaS, 8x8 has a good story to tell about unifying employee and customer experiences while allowing different types of workers to benefit from capabilities that weren’t available to them previously, she wrote. In turn, this enables hybrid experiences, she added.
Moving forward on its XCaaS vision, 8x8 has updated the platform to now include support for more video meeting participants and expanded access to SIP devices within a huddle room. Regarding meeting size, enterprises can now support up to 500 active desktop users in a single video meeting, while also allowing for screen sharing. Previously, meetings capped out at 100 active participants, Rob Pilgrim, global VP of product management at 8x8, shared via email. This capability is available at no additional cost with all 8x8 X Series plans that include video meetings, 8x8 said.
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, pointed out the value of being able to support more than 100 users in a meeting. As he said, meetings are multi-faceted, and a two-person meeting has different technical requirements than a 10-person meeting, a 500-person meeting, and so on. “The ability to support 500 desktops lets businesses shift to hybrid work but still have departmental meetings or even companywide [meetings] so people can stay within digital proximity even if they are physically distant,” he said.
On the voice side, 8x8 has deepened its integration for Microsoft Teams, with two new capabilities. With 8x8 Presence Sync, users of 8x8’s unified Work app and contact center platform are now able to see the real-time presence status of Teams-based users. In addition, a direct routing solution facilitates integrated business messaging by enabling 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams users to send and receive SMS or MMS messages (U.S. and Canada) or faxes (globally) directly from any Teams native interface, 8x8 said. “Many companies adopted Teams during the pandemic, only to find Teams voice to be sub-par at best,” Kerravala said. “This lets customers use Teams for messaging and meetings but then have a full-featured voice experience with 8x8,” he added.
In the last set of updates, 8x8 has targeted enhanced workforce mobility, bringing features from the Work desktop and web versions to the Work mobile app, Pilgrim said. Work app users who join video meetings via their iOS or Android devices can now share content during those meetings. From within the Work app, mobile users also can now tap and reply to messages directly from their device’s notification section, rather than having to open the app; transfer active calls to a desired recipient, context included; and share voicemails with colleagues in team chat rooms, 8x8 said.
“What's nice to see about this announcement is that 8x8 and the other collab vendors are starting to think mobile-first where traditionally they have been desktop-centric,” Kerravala said.
8x8’s enhancements announced today aim to eliminate obstacles normally associated with a hybrid workforce — i.e., juggling multiple, siloed solutions, a limited number of video conferencing participants, the lack of web or mobile app functionality, etc., Pilgrim said. Whether in the office or working remotely, said he added, “the ability to effortlessly and efficiently collaborate via integrated voice, video, or messaging all from a single, unified desktop, mobile or web browser interface is imperative to a hybrid work environment.”
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