Vonage Joins Workstream Collaboration Game

Use of workstream collaboration, team messaging, team collaboration, or whatever label you want to use, has been growing like a weed over the past few years. As No Jitter found in its 2018 Team Collaboration Survey, 90% of businesses are now using such apps, with 61% of respondents indicating use of three or more different tools. This creates unprecedented opportunity for vendors to insert themselves into a business in which they perhaps previously had no competitive opportunity. This is one of the reasons why almost every UC vendor now has a workstream collaboration application.

Until now, Vonage had been missing from the game. Given that the company was one of the pioneers in VoIP and UC, its absence was somewhat curious. But today Vonage introduced VonageFlow, which runs on the new Vonage Business Cloud (VBC).

As a reminder, VBC is Vonage's modernized cloud platform (see related No Jitter post). The majority of the UCaaS providers were founded well over a decade, if not two decades, ago, when technologies like containers were still in their infancies. This means the underlying technology is a vertically integrated, monolithic solution -- essentially a big, multitenant PBX. Over the past couple of years, a few of the cloud communication vendors, most notably Vonage and Five9, have been upgrading their platforms.

While Vonage is admittedly late to the team collaboration game, the company made the right decision in holding off on a player until it had finished its platform upgrade. Building VonageFlow on the old UC platform would likely have meant either undertaking a significant amount of integration work to achieve interoperability or building a standalone service, in what would have amounted to acquiring technology from another vendor. Instead, VonageFlow runs natively on VBC and includes UC capabilities as well as integrations from the Vonage communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) platform, Nexmo (watch VonageFlow video).

The most interesting differentiator for VonageFlow is that it's designed to be a complete messaging solution, enabling workers to stay in a single tool instead of having to flip between it, SMS, and social messaging. Through a single interface, users can answer customer requests, collaborate with co-workers, and provide a quick response from any location without having to leave the screen or app in which they're working.

VonageFlow shows a user all messages, color-coded by type. As shown below, the green indicates workstream messages, orange shows SMS, and the light red represents social messaging, such as Facebook Messenger.

VonageFlow

Vonage leveraged the Nexmo CPaaS APIs to bring the social messaging into VonageFlow. The unification of messages can simplify workflows, which will have a direct impact on boosting productivity and customer response times. Without this, a worker could easily get caught up in the team messaging app and not see incoming SMS messages. If these are from customers, the delayed response times can create a negative customer service experience. It's been well documented on this site and others that customer service is now the top brand differentiator, so responding to customer inquiries quickly should be of utmost importance. The current release will integrate SMS, native VonageFlow messaging, and Facebook Messenger, with others coming soon, Vonage said.

In addition to messaging, VonageFlow will include group conversations, image and document sharing, free on-net voice calls, and video calls. Video calling initially will be available for mobile devices, with support in the desktop app in a future release. In a briefing, Vonage said it will support a few third-party apps at launch, besides Facebook Messenger, with plans for more on the horizon. Those include Apple Business Chat, WeChat, and WhatsApp.

Vonage is one of the last major UC vendors to roll out a workstream collaboration app, but the company did the development the right way. Instead of doing something knee-jerk just to have an app, the company chose to build one from the ground up that sits on VBC. That should enable it to catch up quickly, and even pass many of its peers. Given businesses are willing to use three or more of these apps, Vonage should get enough swings at the bat to build its customer base.

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@zkerravala

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