No Jitter Roll: This Week in Enterprise Communications
Today's collection of what's hot and happening includes bites of news from Microsoft, Cisco, ALE, Actiance, LiveOps Cloud, and FairPoint Communications.
March may seem like quite a ways out, but I assure you, it'll be here before you know it. Why am I talking about March, you ask? Because that's when the hottest conference in enterprise communications, Enterprise Connect, is taking place, of course! Our team at No Jitter and Enterprise Connect is hard at work putting together programming that's sure to delight, inform, and educate, announcing three keynote addresses from Cisco, Microsoft, and Twilio earlier this week.
With a cast of keynoting newcomers to the EC stage, as well as other exciting fresh features like the new Next-Gen Messaging & Team Collaboration track and a TADHack-mini Orlando taking place in conjunction with the event for the first time ever, expect a fresh look and feel for the 2017 event (see "Enterprise Connect 2017: Get Ready for Fresh Faces, New Content, Hackathon!").
With so much "new" taking place, I can't help but draw a connection to the rapid change taking place in the enterprise communications industry at large. Every week, it seems there is a significant new development, partnership, product release, or emerging trend taking place. And with that said, let's take a look at some of the "new" going on this week in enterprise communications.
Microsoft Invests in Cloud Texting Platform Zipwhip
Since its May debut, Microsoft Ventures has been busy making key investments in areas like cloud infrastructure, machine learning, and business SaaS, as we've touched on in previous editions of the No Jitter Roll. This week, Microsoft added to its business SaaS portfolio with an investment in Zipwhip, whose cloud testing platform is aimed at enabling businesses to send and receive text messages on existing landlines and toll-free numbers. Zipwhip also provides an API that allows organizations to integrate text messaging into enterprise software, as tech blog MSPowerUser.com reported.
Zipwhip announced it has closed a $9 million Series B funding, which garnered investments not just from Microsoft Ventures, but also Voyager Capital and public technology infrastructure companies GCI and Inteliquent.
Cisco, Microsoft Play Nice with WebEx & Skype for Business
While Microsoft and Cisco remain in tough competition in the collaboration market, Cisco has been indicating for quite some time that interoperability is a priority (see "Video Interoperability for All, Cisco Style"). Cisco has made another stride forward, yesterday revealing in a Cisco Blogs post that the Cisco WebEx Meeting Center video conferencing now works with Microsoft Skype for Business. It invites everyone to "join the party," as you can see in this video:
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Aims for Cloud Adoption
Last week Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) announced it was forming four regional sales organizations, with each focused on specific market segments for growth: industry, cloud, and services. This week, the company announced it is making it easier for its business partners to move customers to cloud for enterprise communications.
Its latest release of the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Enterprise Cloud (OTEC) solution provides consumption-based telephony, UC, contact center, and specialized industry service applications. But furthermore, OTEC allows ALE business partners to promote apps and services to business customers that are considering or already using the cloud for communications.
As you may recall from a No Jitter article last year, ALE has adopted vertical marketing, and has found particular success within the hospitality vertical. As part of this week's release, ALE unveiled that the enhancements made to its OTEC solution also include a new suite meant for hospitality businesses of all sizes: Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Hospitality Cloud solution. ALE said this solution is tailored toward the hotel industry by using consumption-based models capable of matching cost with hotel room occupancy. Further, it includes a Mobile Guest Softphone for BYOD component that allows hotel staff to respond to customers more quickly.
"As more businesses explore moving IT services to the cloud, where they can gain the benefits of decreased time and money spent, we can offer them simplified IT management via the OTEC solution," said Nicolas Brunel, head of ALE's Communications business, in a prepared statement. "For our business partners we've streamlined the quote-to-cash process for OTEC, introducing the Business Store, our new and innovative online portal that allows our business partners to manage in real time all their customer needs and consumption. The Business Store will become the single online portal for all ALE cloud solutions, including network, communication, and support services."
Actiance Brings Communications Compliance to Workplace by Facebook
A couple of weeks back Facebook released Workplace, its collaboration platform aimed at the enterprise, which was met by communications industry analysts with as much excitement as speculation. Regardless of how you feel about Facebook's chance for success in the enterprise, such a move from a big name like Facebook is sure to attract other industry players.
Actiance, a company specializing in communications compliance, archiving, and analytics, announced earlier this week that it is extending its supported communications channels to include Workplace by Facebook. This means that employees of any company using the Actiance Socialite solution are able to communicate, share content, and engage with others using Workplace while still ensuring that security, governance, and compliance requirements are met. (See previous coverage on No Jitter, "Actiance Brings Governance to Social, Skype4B")
"Companies are spending unprecedented amounts on compliance initiatives and dedicating armies of employees to work on implementation," said Sean Pike, program vice president of Security Products at IDC, in the press release on the announcement. "As enterprises adopt new social channels, including Workplace, organizations should consider solutions such as Actiance Socialite to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and create a culture of continuous compliance while providing high levels of visibility across the myriad of social tools to do business securely and compliantly."
LiveOps Cloud Rebrands to Serenova
As avid contact center industry followers will remember, contact center business LiveOps sold off its LiveOps Cloud Platform Platform to private equity firm Marlin Equity Partners in December 2015. A few months after that at Enterprise Connect 2016, LiveOps Cloud made its official debut, as contact center analyst Sheila McGee-Smith covered for No Jitter.
Now roughly six months later, and nearly a year after its initial divestiture from LiveOps, the contact center-as-a-service provider LiveOps Cloud has announced a rebranding to Serenova.
"This change comes at a critical inflection point in the contact center space and better aligns our vision, energy and commitment with the direction of the global market," said Serenova CEO Vasili Triant in a prepared statement. "The contact center is shifting from a cost center perception to become the revenue, retention, and loyalty engine for the enterprise as brands focus on customer experience as a key differentiator. Cloud adoption is essential to this transformation, but companies also need laser-focused expertise to help solve for complex, multinational deployments and siloed digital engagement. Our new name and mission underscore both this turning point in our industry and our commitment to providing that expertise."
As McGee-Smith puts it, "First as LiveOps Cloud and now as Serenova, this company has played a key role in the evolution and maturation of the CCaaS market."
To learn more about Serenova and its approach to cloud-first, API-driven models for the contact center, download and read this free No Jitter Industry Insights report sponsored by Serenova.
FairPoint Expands into Contact Center
Speaking of the contact center space, data and voice communications service provider FairPoint Communications launched its Cloud Contact Center application this week, an advanced management solution leveraging VoIP. This new application is being packaged as an enhancement to the company's Hosted PBX and SIP trunking solutions, the press materials state.
Cloud Contact Center provides necessary contact center capabilities including traditional voice support and multimedia applications such as IM, Web chat, email and social media queuing. The solution includes ACD, IVR, unified messaging, workforce management, computer telephony integration, performance analytics, and more, the release stated.
"Our research shows that companies are choosing cloud-based applications for greater speed and ease of deployment, lowered cost of ownership, increased flexibility, as well as business continuity and disaster recovery features," said Brendan Read, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, in a prepared statement. He added that an all-in-one application such as this where contact center functionality and hosted PBX are combined will help assure the full breadth of business communications requirements are covered.