With the impending surge of unified communications (UC)—consider the fact that Dimension Data revealed that 78 percent of survey participants have a current strategic plan and budget in place to implement "select components" of UC—it is not all that surprising that the amount of UC providers in the market has surged exponentially.
The decision to go the UC route is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out which third-party you want to turn to for your communications and collaboration services. Before deciding which UC provider is right for your business or your end users, consider the following:
Know What They Offer
Robust UC solutions offer a multitude of communications features from video conferencing to instant messaging to Web conferencing to call routing to integrated mobility. Before beginning your UC search, consider which features are of the utmost importance to you. UC solutions can seamlessly integrate real-time communications with non-real time communications, so your goal is to figure out which communications solutions you need.
Assess Their Dependability
Communications is unequivocally the lifeblood to your business and if your critical business applications are uninterrupted, the flow of your business can significantly be hampered. Before teaming with a UC provider, ensure that they are recognized for their vendor reliability, meaning they boast high-quality equipment along with advanced architecture that can handle your communications solutions. Moreover, your provider should guarantee enterprise-grade reliability when it comes to the convergence of your data, voice and video services.
To start to browse a list of UC providers today, be sure to visit the Shango platform—a platform that allows service providers to embrace UC offerings by making the process of pulling together a unified offering for sale or resale to these enterprises much easier, helping CSPs achieve 100 percent service fulfillment.
Visit our website today to learn more about our platform.
I have been publishing annual tips on rocking SXSW for several years now. I’ve attended more times than I can count, and every year I learn new tips and tricks on how to not just survive, but thrive at SXSW. Here are some of my favorites, which I hope will be helpful to you as you plan for this busiest of weeks in Austin! If you’d like to meet with any of our team, we’ll be out and about all week, so just give us a holler and we can invite you to one of our sponsored events or set up a time to meet.
Start your week early. The week leading up to SXSW is full of great events. Here are just a few you should look into:
- Austin Startup Crawl on March 6th– What happens when 50+ Austin startups all throw a party at the same time? You get the biggest party at SXSW - the ATX Startup Crawl. Free shuttles, be sure to sign up in advance to get the map.
- Austin Tech Happy Hour on March 6th at Molotov. A casual, networking happy hour for the Austin technology community.
- Big Ass Social Happy Hour (BASHH) on March 6th at The Brew Exchange. Austin's relaxed mixer filled with professionals of all backgrounds that feel awkward knowing each other online but not offline.
- Join us at an opening night after-party hosted by mobi, along with Shango and HireBetter, on March 7th from 10pm-2am.
Get a badge. The best way to really get to see and do everything is to just break down and get a badge. Use your marketing budget, it will be money well-spent. The terrific panels, the badge-only parties, the trade show, the unmatched networking opportunities – these can only be enjoyed with a badge. If you have a little extra in your budget, upgrade to a Gold badge, and enjoy movies after the Interactive show is done. If you’re really flush, go for a Platinum – then you can work at Interactive, and play during Film & Music. And the truth is that networking goes on for the whole 10 days. Depending on your industry, you can take advantage of those hordes of people all week long. Also, keep in mind that panelists get a free badge. If you have associates putting on panels, some may still need individual speakers. Or next year, submit a panel of your own! It’s a great way to get a badge.
Find the free stuff. If you CAN’T buy a badge, don’t despair! There are plenty of free events going on. The first thing to do is check online for all of the parties that will admit you with an RSVP. RSVP to EVERYTHING (this goes for whether you have a badge or not) if you think you might want to go. Even with a badge, you may need to get an RSVP in early to be admitted. Keep track of online planners such as Plancast that can help you track official and unofficial events. Many companies have parties and launches, and many do not require a badge. You can even wander around and just see what’s going on around town – you’re bound to find something interesting to attend. For music lovers, there are a number of parties and multi-day events that just require you to RSVP and show up to stand in line for a wristband. Keep alert for these announcements to get yours! And don’t forget the handy-dandy official link to the free stuff.
Set Your Priorities. Yes, SXSW is awesome. But why are YOU there? What are YOUR goals? If it’s just to have fun, then great, do that. But if not, spend some time deciding what you want to accomplish. Are you trying to learn? Check out the panels. There to network? Check out the parties. Looking for a funder, partner, mentor, etc.? Find out who’s speaking, who’s putting on a party, who you might be able to get near, and STALK THEM. Ask a question in a panel, wait around afterwards to chat, sidle up to someone at a party, do what you need to do to meet who you need to meet. (Just don’t be obnoxious, no one likes that.) Read badges, figure out who’s in the room with you, and let the hunt begin! Just to reiterate, though, don’t be a jerk. Everyone has their own agenda, so be pleasant and respectful, but be determined.
Keep Organized. You are going to meet a bazillion people. I promise. Figure out a system that works for you to allow you to follow-up as appropriate after the show. You’re making an investment of time and money, so make it worthwhile by not wasting a card. I have a little trick I use, which is to keep a supply of blank envelopes in my bag. After each event, I put all the cards I’ve collected (hopefully with helpful notes on the back) into an envelope, seal it, and label it with the date, time and event. That way I can remember where I was when I met each person, and refer to it in follow-up. I put everything into a spreadsheet later for ease of use.
Take Advantage of Social Media. Whatever the schedules say, there is always last-minute information out there; but it can be hard to find. Impromptu parties and events can pop up, or scheduled parties may get cancelled or fill up. If you follow the right people on social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), you can keep up with the latest news on what’s happening RIGHT NOW. Find the right people to follow, and check in frequently. Last year a group of my colleagues created a GroupMe which was great for keeping track of where everyone was. Also, keep an eye out for apps that might help you with your schedule. SXSW has an official version, and there are plenty of planning tools to help you out (see Tip #7). Use them!
PLAN. But be Flexible. The main reason for planning is to sign up and RSVP for everything well in advance. Guest lists fill up, so if you think there is any chance you might attend, SIGN UP. While there is plenty of business to be done in line, it’s more fun to do it inside the happening event. But time is precious at SXSW, so if you’re at a boring panel, a party too loud to think, or anything else that doesn’t live up to your expectations, just leave. Get up and go. It helps if you have your expectations about what you want to accomplish clearly in mind, so you can ask yourself “is this furthering my goals?” Here are a few good planning tools to get you started:
Take Care of your Body. Start breaking in shoes now, if you haven’t already. Plan for ALL weather (don’t be like me a few years back, using koozies as mittens, or another year, soaked to the bone). Hydrate (with actual water, beer doesn’t count). Eat right (if you see a vegetable, EAT IT). Sleep (at least a little). A sage man once told me: “SXSW is a marathon. You can drink all you can or stay up all night, but you can’t do both.” He was right. Think about what you plan to carry during the day – a heavy pack will only get heavier. Rest if you need it – find a quiet spot, and just take a break. If you’re lucky, someone will come along and start a conversation, and you’ll be working while you rest! Just be smart, and don’t overdo it and get SXSars or SXSwine Flu!
This is just a starter list. Feel free to add your tips to get the most out of SXSW!
The growing need for centralized business management is a large factor contributing to the booming success that the Unified Communication as-a-service (UCaaS) industry experienced in 2013. This trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for the UCaaS market is predicted to increase an average of 6.3% annually through 2016.
Disaggregated processes and systems decrease productivity and connectivity across
organizations, and in an increasingly mobile business world, this is a large and growing problem. Companies in the telecommunications industry also tend to face the added challenge of end-to-end processes involving multiple vendors and disparate platforms. Pulling together a UC offering typically relies on manual processes and systems, creating difficulties when contending with multiple vendors, portals, pricing tiers, etc. and decreases the efficiency and effectiveness of IP service sourcing and fulfillment overall. Having multiple roles relying heavily on manual, swivel chair processes also can stifle creativity and collaboration among employees, as daily responsibilities center around rote, repetitive systems and processes which are hardly conducive to encouraging innovation. Often this can lead to setbacks when pulling together a UC offering, particularly when faced with the challenge of integrating new vendors, agreements, or workflows.
Seeing an opportunity to help customers improve their workflows and processes, Shango developed a centralized location for vendors to manage multiple communication and execution modalities, making frequently executed tasks like porting or local service requests easier to accomplish. This workflow hub eliminates several swivel chair processes, increasing productivity and reducing total cost of ownership. We enable wholesale carriers and providers to improve processes for buying and selling IP services to source and fulfill unified communications products. To learn more about our unique capabilities, register for one of our free webinars, offered weekly on Thursdays at 2:00 PM CST.
The good news keeps on coming for unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) providers as recent market research indicates that the global UCaaS market is expected to grow from $2.52 billion in 2013 to $7.62 billion by 2018, at an estimated compounded annual growth rate of 24.8 percent from 2013 to 2018. The report, titled “Unified Communications as-a-service (UCaaS) Market: Advancements, Emerging Applications, Business Models, Technology Roadmaps, Global Forecasts & Analysis (2013 – 2018),” also predicted the following promising statistics:
- Telephony will continue to grow in ubiquity, as the UCaaS telephony market is expected to grow from $0.87 billion in 2013 to $2.48 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 23.3 percent from 2013 to 2018.
- The UCaaS collaboration application market is also poised for unprecedented growth with industry pundits predicting that revenue will increase from $540.74 million in 2013 to $1.75 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 26.5 percent from 2013 to 2018
The drive for UCaaS providers is not waning any time soon, particularly as end users search for unified communications and collaboration solutions hosted by third party providers. Searching to integrate messaging, VoIP, web conferencing, video conferencing and instant messaging over the cloud, consumers are on the hunt for a cloud provider who can offer these UC solutions at a cost-effective price point. UCaaS offers considerable OPEX and CAPEX benefits as it allows companies to enjoy these solutions over the cloud, which decreases front load capital cost as they are offered on a per seat basis. This means that businesses can scale and downsize communications solutions seamlessly, as well as significantly curtail travel time.
With the search for the appropriate UCaaS provider in full swing, Shango is ready to facilitate this emerging demand through its open, common platform for the acquiring and selling of IP-enabled services. Shango’s SaaS allows service providers to embrace UC offerings by making the process of pulling together a unified offering for sale or resale to these enterprises much easier, helping CSPs achieve 100 percent service fulfillment.
Visit our website to learn more about how Shango works, and contact us directly if you’d like to speak with a representative.
If you had any doubt as to whether the unified communications (UC) market was kicking into high gear, then just consider the following: Gartner contends that end-user adoption of UC services will continue to mature in the next several years, fueled by the business desire to improve user productivity and enhance administrative processes.
Last week, we took a look at how UC vendors can remain competitive in an increasingly claustrophobic market, chief among them being to ensure a stellar end-user experience. Today, we will explore two more ways vendors can stay competitive:
The laundry list of features that end users search for is infinite. It includes everything from voice, audio and videoconferencing to unified messaging, email, and IM. The list certainly doesn’t end there. Other must-have features include: web conferencing with file and application sharing capabilities; voicemail-to-email capabilities; and rich presence, or the aggregation and publication of presence and location information between (from and to) multiple sources.
The demand for advanced features is not waning any time soon, particularly as the corporate workplace continues to evolve. Specifically, the rise of the mobile worker, the BYOD movement, and the consumerization of IT have all accelerated the adoption of UC solutions. It comes as no surprise then that decision makers in large organizations are predicted to spend $53 million on services to support unified communications and collaboration (UCC) over the next two years.
The last thing enterprises want is to be locked into a vendor when they are dabbling in a new industry. Therefore, the success of a vendor hinges on its ability to provide interoperability across a variety of platforms. According to Gartner, many companies search to fulfill their communications needs with a variety of vendors, mostly because previous legacy investments limit them. The search for first-grade configuration dominates the vendor decision. As a vendor, being able to address pressing interoperability requirements is imperative.
As the boom of UC continues, Shango stands ready to facilitate this migration with our open, common SaaS platform that allows UC providers to more seamlessly source IP-enabled services from a single medium. Our community-based marketplace enables the buying and selling of IP services, helping wholesale VoIP and CSPs achieve 100 percent service fulfillment.
Visit our website to start exploring the Shango platform today.
According to industry pundits at Gartner, the unified communications (UC) market has lost its training wheels and is entering the early mainstream adoption phase. We’re seeing more and more communications service providers (CSPs) seeking to adopt a UC-centric business model as the market continues to grow.
“The enterprise UC market continued to mature over the past 12 months and is now considered by Gartner to be entering the early mainstream adoption phase,” Gartner writes in its “Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications” report. “Products and best practices both for deployment and increasing end-user adoption will continue to mature during the next several years.”
According to Gartner, it also means the stakes for vendors are higher than ever before as enterprise decision makers weigh a number of factors when it comes to selecting the vendor to address their business needs. So as a provider trying to embark in the UC world, what do you need to consider?
The User Experience
While technological innovation might continue to evolve each and every day, some things remain the same—like the end user searching for a seamless, positive experience with each vendor. As Gartner contends, the success of a UC vendor is intrinsically tied to that vendor’s ability to bolster enterprise productivity, consolidate administration and management functions, and create an unprecedented end-user experience.
According to Lee Resource Inc., 91 percent of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your company again. This loss comes at a steep price considering it cost five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Interested in some of the other key ingredients to UC vendor success? Stay tuned for part two of this discussion next week.
As a communications service provider, carrier or operator you undoubtedly have a firm understanding of the swivel chair process, along with the frustration and complexities it brings. If you're new to the arena—or have to deal with major players in the space—it’s time for a quick refresher about this everyday phrase.
Simply put, carriers and operators are oftentimes impeded when it comes to processing orders or provisioning new offerings, such as phone numbers and emerging applications. This is because they are relying on multiple sourcing portals. As a result, they are forced to embrace a new OSS system specifically designed for each new technology or service. To use and manage different aspects of the network, carriers and operators are forced to adopt a manual “swivel chair” process, or rely on members of their team to communicate details of new services to other systems when putting together an IP-based offering. The process is not only time-consuming, but can also add another layer of complexity to the sourcing and fulfillment process.
That’s where Shango’s cloud-based, SaaS model comes in. Shango eliminates the need for manual swivel chair processes through our common API and multi-tenancy capability. In so doing, service providers are able to simplify the process of pulling together IP-based offerings for sale or resale to enterprise customers. Shango enables carriers, operators and their service provider customers to pull through best-of-breed, third-party applications, as well as manage and fulfill those orders, and present applications out to their customers in a seamless way.
Visit our website to start exploring the Shango platform today.
The unified communications (UC) sector is showing no signs of slowing down as demand for UC services continues to grow., We truly haven’t even scratched the surface of UC popularity—or, for that matter, the surge of unified communications as a service (UCaaS). In fact, new studies show that the UCaaS market is expected to grow from $2.52 billion in 2013 to $7.62 billion by 2018, at an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.8 percent during that time.
With increased demand for voice and video services—from unified messaging to video conferencing to enhanced business collaboration services—it comes as no surprise that the UCaaS market is experiencing such a boom. These solutions are uniquely designed to address the driving need for video technology and collaboration solutions and the heightened demand for cloud-based unified communication that can integrate voice, data, video and enterprise services.
According to a UCaaS study by Markets and Markets, “Companies across all sectors are using UCaaS… to decrease front load capital cost as they are offered on a per seat basis, enabling businesses to scale communications easily and effectively.” In addition to allowing enterprises to have a quality UC solution, UCaaS enables so much more at the business level, including:
- Substantial cost savings: enterprises can say goodbye to the OPEX and CAPEX expenditures associated with deploying on-premise UC solutions
- Reduced real estate: companies can host UC offerings such as unified messaging, email and call control through a cloud-based delivery model
- Faster provisioning: UCaaS offers speed and the ability to provision —or provide services to a user—seamlessly and quickly.
As UCaaS becomes increasingly more ubiquitous, Shango stands poised to help solutions providers more easily source IP-enabled services from a single medium. Shango’s open, common SaaS enables the buying and selling of IP services, helping CSPs to achieve 100 percent service fulfillment.
Visit our website to learn more about how Shango works, and contact us directly if you’d like to speak with a representative.
As we discussed last week, 2013 saw exponential growth in the VoIP and UC sector. Now it's time to take a look forward at 2014 and why it's going to be the Year for UC.
With businesses continually looking to operate more efficiently and most cost-effectively, it comes as no surprise that the unified communications market continues to explode. In fact, recent research conducted by Transparency Market Research suggests that the market for unified communications—which was valued at $22.8 billion in 2011—will expand to $61.9 billion by 2018, boasting a compound annual growth rate of 15.7 percent.
Alongside Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), mobility and gamification, UC was a major buzzword in 2013. Let’s take a look at the top three reasons why:
- The Rise of the Mobile Workforce: As technology evolves, workers are no longer required to be bound to the shackles of a brick-and-mortar office. These days, business is not only done during the typical 9 to 5 workday. Coupled with laptops and mobile devices, unified communications solutions enable workers to remain connected at all times—whether they’re at the office, at home, at their child’s soccer game or across the country on business.
- The Necessity for Cutting Costs: Businesses need to save money by reducing costs, especially in this economic climate. UC solutions—which combine email, instant messaging, SMS, video and web conferencing, presence features and more into a single interface—empower businesses to do precisely that as employees can connect with each other instantly. Imagine you’re a business owner and you need to gather employees from four separate offices together for a meeting about an upcoming initiative. Rather than having employees drive to a central location, consider a video or web conference, instead. In this example, you’ll save money on travel expenses, while also saving the time spent by your employees trying to get from Point A to Point B and back.
- The Need for Enhanced Collaboration: From time to time, there’s no getting around it: Your team members need to collaborate. But because of the rise of the mobile workforce, they might not find themselves in the same office building that often. Thanks to unified communications, they don’t have to be. By being able to observe their coworkers’ presence on a UC solution, for example, employees can connect with each other via instant messaging when they’re both free, working together on projects while also working more efficiently in the sense that they don’t have to travel to be in the same room to do so.
Stay tuned to the Shango blog as we continue to discuss the growth of unified communications.
Happy New Year! As we celebrate the start of 2014, let's take a look back at the growth of the VoIP and UC sector that came in 2013. As cited in Infonetics Research’s “VoIP and UC Services and Subscribers” report, the VoIP market experienced great growth in 2013, as evidenced by the fact that global residential and business VoIP services revenue shot up three percent to $33 billion for the first half of 2013. Moreover, experts predict that worldwide business VoIP service revenue will grow at a seven percent CAGR from 2012 to 2017, compared to a three percent CAGR for residential/SOHO VoIP services. The report measured service providers and their VoIP and unified communications (UC) services revenue and subscribers.
As explained by Infonetics Research Principal Analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS Diane Myers, “The VoIP services market is on track with our expectations for 2013. Residential VoIP services make up the majority of revenue, but growth is being fueled by business services as SIP trunking and cloud unified communications continue to expand and find broader adoption with enterprises of all sizes.”
It comes as no surprise, though, that the VoIP market is poised for tremendous growth. From improved flexibility to substantial cost savings to enhanced features, VoIP offers a plethora of advantages to businesses which is why so many companies are enlisting the help of wholesale VoIP providers to make their offerings even more robust.
Here at Shango we are ready to facilitate the wholesale VoIP movement thanks to our community marketplace designed for the fulfillment of IP-enabled goods. For more on how we can help unify your telecom value chain, click here.