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Leading the Way on UCaaS
As we’ve seen since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, UCaaS has proven essential for business continuity, providing flexibility and support for workers, regardless of location, with collaboration, messaging, mobility, and more, as I’ve written previously on No Jitter. But for enterprises looking to pave the way forward with UCaaS, deciding which provider to go all-in can be daunting given the number of potential providers and the similarity of platforms.
Enterprises that start with a short list of just a couple of providers might be OK, but “there are so many choices, and if you really start digging in, it’s like going down a rabbit hole,” Diane Myers, chief analyst for enterprise collaboration with IT research firm Omdia, an Enterprise Connect/No Jitter sister company, shared in a recent conversation with me. Myers will be providing market guidance, based on a UCaaS scorecard she prepares annually, during the Enterprise Connect Digital Conference & Expo taking place the week of Aug. 3.
In Omdia's “UCaaS Service Provider Scorecard: North America,” Myer provides a deep dive on leading providers and analyzes the evolving market. If you look back 12 years, you’d find some of the same UCaaS providers as in this year’s report, Myers said, but many have been consolidated into others. “It’s an interesting journey,” she said.
In putting together her scorecard, Myers considers factors such as installed base, financial stability, market momentum, service development, and support options. Based on these criteria, below are the top 10 leading UCaaS providers in North America according to Omdia’s 2020 report, based on data from 2019, and without giving too much away, a summary analysis explaining why:
- RingCentral – the largest UCaaS provider in terms of installed base of seats. It continues to outperform average market growth and outpace the competitive field. Additionally, RingCentral has a healthy financial score and above-average service development.
- 8x8 – based on the size of its installed base, 8x8 moves from fourth in 2018, to being tied for second in 2019. It remains focused on growing its midmarket and large enterprise presence, with an eye of serving businesses with 100 to 5,000+ employees.
- Verizon – the fourth-largest provider by installed base, Verizon has the broadest set of enterprise data and voice capabilities and holds an above-average financial score. Its depth of capabilities and network assets give it a competitive advantage with large businesses. It’s also worth mentioning that the company’s wireless network and One Talk mobile-first service present a unique advantage that no other provider in the U.S. has yet to match.
- Mitel – the only traditional enterprise telephony and UC vendor that shows up among the top 10 UCaaS competitors. Mitel has the second-largest installed base of seats, but its growth has been the slowest compared to rest of the top five providers. For this report, Omdia only focused on the services Mitel runs and manages directly: MiCloud Connect and MiCloud Flex.
- Comcast Business – the fifth-largest UCaaS provider by installed base, Comcast Business posted above-average 2019 growth. Comcast Business’s nationwide sales team and installed base of business customers gives it an advantage in converting companies to UC. Its focused market strategy makes Comcast Business a solid contender.
- Vonage – although the company no longer sells its UCaaS offering Vonage Enterprise, it continues to support customers on the service, and those seats are included in the installed base count. Vonage has been able to translate its focus on the business market into growth, with services revenue up 37% in 2019.
- LogMeIn – the ninth-largest UCaaS provider by installed base, the company got a boost in its overall score due to 2019 growth and integrating Jive with the GoToMeeting capabilities to provide a comprehensive UCaaS offering. Additionally, LogMeIn has worked hard to push GoToConnect through the channel, with aggressive promotion programs to help grow its installed base.
- Star2Star – the seventh-largest UCaaS provider by installed base, the company’s focus has been on SMBs, but is gaining interest from larger businesses and has had midmarket success with multilocation businesses. It has a strong presence in the retail space.
- Nextiva – this privately held company, initially focused on small businesses, has been growing its installed base steadily since its launch 12 years ago while moving upmarket. It is the eighth-largest provider in terms of installed base.
- Fuze – excels with product development and has built up a core competency in professional services, recognizing that one size doesn’t fit all. One major enhancement Fuze has made over the past year is combining its UCaaS and CCaaS solutions onto the same application experience.
Based on Omdia’s criteria, neither Microsoft (for Teams), Cisco (for Webex), or Zoom, among many others, made the list, but are “ones to watch,” as Myers will discuss during her EC virtual session, “UCaaS Report: Leading the Way.”
Each top 10 provider offers clients that allow remote work, such as has become necessary with the pandemic. These clients vary in how comprehensive and feature-rich they are, Myers said. Despite the importance of remote work today, Myers said she currently doesn’t see a shift of criteria for the 2021 report. However, Omdia will revisit this at the beginning of the year, she said. “If we do emphasize this area, it will be around service capabilities, including video/multimedia conferencing and comprehensive user clients.”