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ThinkingPhones Takes on Fuze Identity

As bloggers Robin Gareiss and Marty Parker have pointed out in their No Jitter posts this week (here and here), cloud communications is hot, and getting hotter. Nemertes Research, of which Robin is president, has found in surveying and talking with enterprise IT leaders that 51% of companies plan to spend more on cloud communications and collaboration in the coming year.

While Nemertes data has shown that the majority of organizations are "eyeing cloud-based services for UC&C," anecdotally Marty tells us, from his experience as a UC consultant, that he believes we've reached a tipping point. Especially considering total cost of ownership (TCO), he says he is expecting to start seeing major migrations from on-premises IP PBX deployments to cloud services.

With folks like Marty and Robin making such predictions, being in the thick of real-world UC&C decision making as they are, I find little wonder in the announcements that came yesterday from UC-as-a-service provider ThinkingPhones. For one, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company has closed $112 million in new funding -- reportedly among the largest chunk of change venture capitalists have handed out to Boston-area companies of late.

The investment is an "undeniable validation of the market as a whole," said Bob Goodman, a partner with Bessemer Venture Partners, in a press statement. To be specific, he added, the backing is recognition of "Fuze's vision to reimagine the industry."

"Fuze?" Yes, that's right -- ThinkingPhones is officially no more... on paper, that is. ThinkingPhones has rebranded as Fuze, which you may recall is the name of the video collaboration company it acquired a few months back (and one of the seven companies selected for last year's Innovation Showcase at Enterprise Connect). As CEO Steve Kokinos told me at the time, ThinkingPhones viewed the expansion into group video collaboration as a natural next step for the UCaaS provider, which until then had focused on delivering enterprise voice services, point-to-point video, application integration, and intelligence from big-data analytics (hence the "Thinking" half of the name).

The newly rebranded Fuze still is on a mission to transform the way businesses communicate, Kokinos said in a press statement. But the way the company markets and sells is evolving, he added.

"Voice is only the beginning of our story. Work life is dynamic and unpredictable, and the new Fuze is all about flexible, always-on business communications -- video conferencing, messaging, and collaboration. When voice, text, data, and video are 'fuzed' on a single platform, great things can happen," Kokinos said.

I checked in with No Jitter contributor Dave Michels for his take on the rebranding, given his previous coverage on both companies (see "Thinking of Phones" for his in-depth interview with Kokinos, for example.) Never one to mince words, Dave told me via email, "I think it makes sense."

He elaborated in a TalkingPointz post, but the most salient point I think is this one: "No one wants 'Phones' or 'Tel' in their name any more. ..."

It is an exciting time to be in communications and collaboration, voice included. But, yes, words like "phone" and "tele-whatever" do have a dated feel about them. We can't know right now whether rebranding as Fuze will propel the company deeper into the enterprise. But we do know that with the UCaaS market heating up, standing apart from the pack will be tough. A rebranding, and big funding, could help Fuze in that respect.

If you're eyeing UCaaS alternatives, be sure to join us today on Twitter, where we'll be chatting with Dave (@DaveMichels) and another NJ regular, Zeus Kerravala (@zkerravala), about UCaaS. Use the hashtag #NJchat to participate, and get all your questions answered by the experts. We'll be chatting from 1 to 2 p.m. EST.

Also consider attending Enterprise Connect 2016, coming to Orlando, Fla., March 7 to 10. You'll find loads of opportunities to learn more about cloud communications (and all things enterprise communications-related) during our four-day conference program. Robin, for example, will be sharing Nemertes Research's annual UC TCO data in the session, "Building a Business Case for a Changing UC Architecture."

If you haven't yet registered, we have a deal for you. You can save an additional $200 off the early bird rate by registering by this Friday, Feb. 12, for an Entire Event or Tue-Thu Conference pass, using the code NJPOST. This discount represents a total savings of $700 off the on-site price. As an added bonus, you can get even bigger savings when you register three or more attendees from your company.