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The North American hosted Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market is witnessing double-digit growth, disruptive forces and industry evolution. A growing customer demand for more flexible technology consumption models to support digital transformation projects, premises-based communication solutions reaching end of life, and an increasing availability of compelling UCaaS offerings are key factors driving growth and market transformation.
“Currently, the market is relatively untapped and can support a large number of providers with a diverse background and skill set. As the market matures, highly diversified telecommunications companies and software-as-a-service(SaaS) providers are likely to dominate the market,” said Digital Transformation Vice President Elka Popova. “Providers of non-unified communication (UC) backgrounds will increasingly disrupt the market. These new entrants must possess certain differentiators and competitive advantages to ensure a greater chance of success.”
Many of the current North American hosted IP telephony providers have a long record of delivering cloud communication solutions. Market leaders such as 8x8, Fonality (now NetFortris), and RingCentral pioneered hosted IP telephony services more than a decade ago and have evolved and realigned their strategies with the market to become some of the most successful providers today. Other key players and their strategies include:
- Vonage’s foray into the business service space via multiple complementary acquisitions has propelled it to the second-highest position in terms of hosted IP telephony revenue;
- Disruptive new entrants such as CiscoMicrosoft, Unify and Zang challenging the status quo with compelling solutions packaging and pricing;
- Star2Star’s unique business model and hybrid architecture;
- BVoIP’s and CoreDial’s wholesale SaaS platforms that address unique business needs and add competitive pressures;
- Jive’s and Nextiva’s customer service excellence raises the bar for other market participants;
- Mitel and Windstream shifting the balance of power with large-scale acquisitions;
- PanTerra, Rogers Communications, and Verizon disrupting the market with innovative new offerings;
- Evolving providers such as AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, EvolveIP, Fuze, Intermedia, NWN IT, TPx Communications, and WEST vying for a leadership position through technology prowess, and effective growth strategies.
“In spite of the compelling hosted/cloud services benefits, many businesses will continue to use premises-based systems for security, control, more flexible customization and other reasons. Furthermore, the application programming interface (API) economy is driving the disintegration of the traditional telecommunication and information technology value chains,” noted Popova. “With the right set of telephony and messaging APIs, and a reasonable investment in software development, a data center/infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), or software-as-a-service (SaaS) company can become a UCaaS or contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) provider and disrupt the status quo.”
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