Although unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is a niche, it seems to be viewed as an increasingly important niche, as business customer revenues now are increasingly the foundation for tier-one service provider growth. But in a fragmented market, differentiation arguably matters.
As hard as it might be to differentiate clearly in the business unified communications space, suppliers always seek to identify niches and segments within which to operate.
According to Gartner analysts, differentiation often happens based on target buyer employee base. Sometimes it happens based on the other software environments used by the potential buyer (Cisco, Microsoft being key). Sometimes geography plays a big role. Sometimes the lead features are based on specialized features such as conferencing or mobility.
Gartner also ranks firms by completeness of vision and ability to execute. But it arguably is not easy to maintain differentiation in the business communications space; not when “challengers” include firms such as Microsoft, Google, AT&T and NTT Group.
Consider 8x8, historically focused on small and mid-size accounts in the United States, but which now sells to enterprises with 1,000 to 5,000 employees globally.
AT&T prefers accounts with at least 40 percent of users in North America. BroadSoft sells mostly through partners, including telcos. BT prefers multinational enterprises with more than 5,000 endpoints.
Fuze sells primarily in the United States and Europe to firms in the 500 to 5,000 employees range, with roughly half of revenue coming from accounts of at least 1,000 employees.
Google also has entered the business communications market, typically requiring partnerships with voice platforms, and arguably remains largely a conferencing product.
Microsoft arguably does best with Microsoft 365 customers.
Masergy focuses on organizations between 100 and 2,500 employees. Mitel focuses on mid-size accounts of perhaps 250 employees.
NTT Group arguably operates in the widest range of segments, especially when Cisco and Microsoft cloud UC stacks are important to customers. NTT can support customers ranging from 100 employees to more than 50,000 employees.
Orange is stronger internationally, outside the United States, and arguably with customers using Cisco infrastructure more than Microsoft.
RingCentral focuses on mobile-centric small and mid-sized organizations up to 5,000 employees.
Star2Star focuses on organizations with 50 and 2,500 employees seeking lower-cost OTT connectivity.
Verizon is Csco-based for multinationals with more than 1,000 employees, and typically prefers accounts where 40 percent or more of their sites U.S.-based. Verizon’s SMB platform is based on BroadSoft.
Vonage historically has targeted the small and mid-sized organization market, not large enterprise, and for that reason seems not to be covered by Gartner at the moment.
West is primarily U.S. based and focuses on Cisco implementations for organizations between 500 and 5,000.