Last week, the Cavell Enable event in a sunny London brought together over 130 industry experts to discuss the rise of Microsoft Teams and its growing impact on the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market.
My main takeaways from this event are below.
1/ Microsoft has redefined the UCaaS space
With 12 million PSTN users recently reported, out of 270M monthly active Teams users, and an expected growth in monthly calls through Microsoft Teams from 1 billion to 5 billion by the end of 2026, it’s clear that Microsoft is solidifying its position as a leader in the space and still has a lot of potential for further growth.
Microsoft’s leadership was further reinforced by their top spot in the brand new 2022 Gartner UCaaS Magic Quadrant, a testament to the company’s continued innovation and commitment to meeting the needs of its customers.
2/ Operator Connect & Acceleration Partners crucial for further growth
One of the key discussion points at the event was the growing number of operators that support Operator Connect, 43 at the moment, and the role of acceleration partners like SIPPIO and PingCo (both Gold Sponsors of the event) to bring hundreds more on board. The Acceleration Partners support operators to quickly offer a seamless integration of Teams into their existing communication infrastructure, providing a more seamless experience for end users. Dan Pearson, CEO of PingCo, dared to give a live demo of their TCAP platform that automates the entire deployment and configuration of Teams voice and PSTN, making the addition and configuration of new Teams voice customers a real-time and foolproof experience.
But as the Operator Connect marketplace continues to grow, operators will need to differentiate themselves and add value in order to compete for the customer. This is where OC Accelerator Partners come in, offering not only technical expertise and an automation platform but also valuable insights into the customer journey and how to support the unique needs of the SMB market, including full channel support.
3/ Differentiation and Customer Focus are key
In her keynote at the event, SIPPIO’s COO&GM Dawn-Marie Elder emphasized the importance of putting the customer journey first. She explained how the SIPPIO platform is built to support just that, and how SIPPIO supports operators with marketing, sales, order intake as well as deployment of Teams Direct Routing, Operator Connect and other flavors. She also highlighted the need for operators to diversify and offer additional functionality and tools like recording and analytics in order to add value and remain competitive.
In a panel session about the various Teams Phone options, with speakers from Gamma, Enreach, PureIP and 8×8, this need for differentiation was echoed. 8×8’s Graham Bond explained how 8×8 build as much as possible on top of Microsoft, adding value where possible in the form of contact center, extensive PBX functionality and much more. Tonny Siemons, whose Microsoft focused company was recently acquired by Enreach, echoes the importance of adding value instead of trying to compete on basic functionalities. By applying their knowledge and experience with voice and mobile, and especially the diverse and complicated customer requirements in SME, telcos and CSPs have unique new opportunities in this fast changing UCaaS market if they adapt quickly enough, meet market demands and empower their channel partners.
4/ Teams Phone Mobile to open the remaining 70% of the market
Finally, the introduction of Teams Phone Mobile (formerly called OC-Mobile) is set to be the next big opportunity for mobile operators, as it addresses the 70% of users who do not use collaboration platforms like Teams on a daily basis. This service is now live with 2 operators, with another 4 following shortly. With 97% interest in this service, as per Cavell’s research, Teams Phone Mobile is poised to take over the cellphone market by storm. Pricing is expected to be competitive – although none of the first operators launching the service that were talking at the event (BT and Swisscom) wanted to give any firm predictions.
We live in a mobile-first world, and Microsoft is competing here with similar services from Cisco Webex and RingCentral. The upside for the mobile users, as well as for the solution providers, is of course the ability to add all sorts of intelligent value adds to the mobile experience, such as recording, IVRs and a wide range of AI services. Basically, this makes the mobile experience smart and rich, and opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
Overall, the Cavell Enable event provided valuable insights into the current state of the UCaaS market and the growing importance of Microsoft Teams. With the introduction of Teams Phone Mobile and the continued support of OC Acceleration Partners it’s clear that the future of UCaaS is bright, and that Microsoft is well positioned to continue its leadership in the space.
About the author
Over the past 30 years Rob (co-)founded various tech companies, including one of the leading Dutch hosted voice providers (before hosted voice became the new normal). Today, he works with telcos/CSPs and some of the world’s leading technology providers on innovation and growth, especially in the rapidly changing world of cloud communications and CPaaS. Rob has this crazy belief that the strengths of corporates and innovators should be combined in new ecosystems to create optimal customer experience, new business models and solutions for some of today’s big problems.