This summer, 8×8 officially rolled out its new X Series that combines all 8×8 unified communications and contact center services as a single platform, bringing together 8×8’s separate Virtual Office, Virtual Contact Center and ContactNow cloud-based products as a continuum of services. Initial availability is in the US and UK, with expansion into other regions coming later.
The 8×8 X Series builds on three 8×8 Virtual Office “X” Editions (X2, X5 and X8) introduced last fall to now offer eight mix and match feature plans, X1-X8, that are designed to line up with various user roles within an organization. There is also a basic plan for lobbies and common areas. Generally, the X1, X2, X3 and X4 plans build out a range of telephony, audio/video conferencing, CRM and analytics, while X5, X6, X7 and X8 add levels of contact center functionality such as IVR, inbound voice, outbound dialers, omni-channel (including voice, chat, email and social channels), speech analytics and quality monitoring.
The higher-end plans (X5-X8) are a particular differentiator for 8×8, not only from the earlier 8×8 Virtual Office Classic, but also from competing Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) offers for which Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) typically adds a separate per-user fee. 8×8 has shifted to a new tiered pricing model with volume-based discounting for a further price-value advantage.
The all-in-one bundles – with integrated communications, collaboration (see below for more on the integrated team capability) and contact center functions – also facilitate information sharing among contact center agents and knowledge experts across an enterprise, resulting in more efficient handling of customer issues, customer tracking and decision-making.
The X Series Line-up
As noted, the eight new X Series plans build on the three earlier Virtual Office X Editions, but the plan naming and content does not correlate exactly. For example, the earlier “Virtual Office Edition X2” and the new “X Series X2” are the same, but the earlier “Virtual Office Edition X8” is more in line with the new “X Series X5.”
8×8 is highlighting (marketing publicly) four of the X Series plans (X2, X4, X6 and X8) as meeting most user needs. The odd number plans (X1, X3, X5 and X7) can also be selected should one of these turn out to be most appropriate for a particular user role. X1, for example, targets the general office worker that requires basic dial-tone, telephony features, voicemail and auto attendant; it also comes with some popular capabilities like a mobile/desktop client, team messaging and call recording.
Each plan includes the features of all earlier plans, and each supports a Single Sign On for the voice, video conferencing, team messaging and collaboration functions available.
- Lobby: For lobby areas and break rooms; supports auto attendant functionality and internal calling to any extension within the company directory.
- X2: For the basic UC user who requires essential communication and collaboration services; builds on X1, adding unlimited Internet Fax, Business SMS, 8×8 Meetings for audio and video conferencing (five participants) and integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk and NetSuite CRM; unlimited calling within 14 countries.
- X4: For supervisors, managers, executives and “super users” who require 8×8’s most advanced set of capabilities with communications, collaboration, analytics and monitoring capabilities; incorporates all earlier plan features, including an Operator Switchboard software-based application for live call handling, plus audio/video conferencing among 50 participants and 8×8’s Analytics and Call Quality Reporting; unlimited calling within 47 countries.
- X6: For voice contact center agents that require full collaboration and 8×8’s complete UCaaS functionality; builds on the basic call center features introduced with X5 (IVR and skills-based routing) to add more contact center functionality, namely graphical call flows, post call surveys, native 8×8 CRM (a simple customer contact and case management tool), knowledgebase (a built-in FAQ database to help agents answer commonly asked questions) and queued and web callback; quality management and speech analytics are optional; unlimited calling within 47 countries.
- X8: For multichannel contact center agents and supervisors who require full collaboration and complete UCaaS functionality; supports the full range of 8×8 capabilities, X1-X7, with instant messaging (chat), email and social channels and real-time website co-browsing, plus outbound predictive dialing with 5,000 minutes; quality management and speech analytics are included as standard; unlimited calling within 47 countries.
Of special note is an internally developed 8×8 team messaging capability that is included across all X Series plans, enabling persistent private and public chat rooms, presence, avatars, file sharing and in-line file preview.
Additionally, all plans support 8×8’s Sameroom interoperability platform that connects disparate team messaging solutions. In 2017, 8×8 acquired LeChat, Inc. and its Sameroom interoperability platform that transfers messages and files in real-time among disparate third-party team collaboration services, such as Microsoft Skype, Slack, Google Hangouts, Atlassian Stride, Cisco Webex Teams and 20+ others. Each X Series account includes one Sameroom “tube” that connects one 8×8 room to one third-party platform channel. Additional tube plans can be added optionally.
8×8 is on-target here, as team collaboration is a fast-emerging category that is becoming integral to the way people work today. Recent studies confirm that usage of team-based tools in the enterprise is on the rise. In a 2018 No Jitter survey, 90% of the enterprise IT managers surveyed responded that employees in their organizations are already using one or more such tools. The latest Nemertes data concurs, finding that the number of organizations with no interest in adopting a team collaboration app has now dropped to under 10%.
The 8×8 X Series is currently being offered in the US and UK (as of July 17, 2018) to new mid-market and enterprise companies, followed by new small and mid-size business (SMB) customers starting in the fall timeframe (in the meantime, new SMB customers can continue to purchase the earlier 8×8 Virtual Office X Editions). Once the X Series is available for SMBs (Fall 2018) and as it’s rolled out to other regions (beyond the US and UK), 8×8 will no longer offer the earlier products to new customers.
For now, existing customers can opt to remain on their current plan, or can begin to move toward the new X Series by participating in 8×8’s migration program and timeline (when made available) designed to help make the migration a smooth one.
8×8 just closed the acquisition of MarianaIQ (MIQ) and will be infusing MIQ’s deep learning capabilities into the X Series for intelligent call routing, speech analytics and enhanced context around customer conversations. Stay tuned for more on X Series enhancements as these unfold.