Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) provider 8×8 recently introduced three new competitively-priced cloud-based user bundles, the 8×8 Virtual Office “X” Editions. Each of the new editions (X2, X5 and X8) comes with popular enterprise telephony and UC functions, but also more advanced capabilities not typically standard in competing UCaaS offers. The highest-end package, X8, is a particular differentiator for 8×8 as it incorporates inbound and outbound contact center features to create an all-in-one bundle for communications, collaboration and contact center (see more below on the new package options and advantages).
8×8 continues to report growth in the number and size of its business subscribers since the company introduced the Virtual Office hosted phone service to U.S. small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) in 2004. The service has expanded significantly since then, entering the Canadian and UK markets in 2013, Hong Kong in 2014, Australia in 2015 and South America in 2016. Today, with 15 data centers in six regions, along with nine customer support centers, 8×8 is supporting 50,000 businesses (more than one million business users) with offices in 150 countries.
With each quarterly financial update, 8×8 highlights rising service revenue from larger size businesses. The number of mid-market and enterprise customers has climbed to 58% of the company’s total revenue per the company’s latest second quarter fiscal 2018 report. It is these larger customers that 8×8 views as its “sweet spot” in the market since the company can offer them a portfolio of enterprise-level services that includes UC and telephony, team collaboration interoperability, contact center and analytics.
The 8×8 Virtual Office Line-up
The new 8×8 Virtual Office X Editions come in three tiers with a notable set of standard features when compared to competing UCaaS offers:
- X2 ($25 per user per month) provides all of the 8×8 Virtual Office telephony and UC features, plus “essential” analytics for detailed reporting on extensions, unlimited internet fax, unlimited calling to 14 countries, the Virtual Office Meetings audio/web/video service (up to five participants per conference) and integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk and NetSuite CRM.
- X5 ($35 per user per month) builds on X2, adding unlimited calling to 32 countries, more Meetings capacity (up to 25 participants), plus Salesforce analytics, call recording and the Operator Switchboard software-based app for live call handling.
- X8 ($55 per user per month) is a unified bundle that builds on X5 to add unlimited calling to 45 countries and support for 50 Meetings participants, plus inbound and outbound contact center capabilities with call quality and supervisor analytics and visual IVR; 2,000 outbound calling minutes to the U.S. and Canada are also included.
Up until now, 8×8 has offered two user packages for business telephony and UC, namely the 8×8 Virtual Office standard user package with popular business communications features and the 8×8 Virtual Office Pro package that adds more collaborative functionality. These packages remain for now as 8×8’s “Classic” bundles as the company begins to incorporate new SMB customers into the new X Editions initially in the U.S. and UK.
So, how do the new 8×8 Virtual Office X Editions stack up? What improvements do they offer versus the earlier Classic bundles? Here are some of the differentiators:
- Price-Value Advantage – Perhaps most obvious is the price-value advantage with the new X Editions, particularly the new X8 bundle which is an attractive offer that combines contact center functionality (drawn from the 8×8 ContactNow solution) with unified telephony/collaboration features for only $55 per user per month. Contact center as a Service (CCaaS) typically adds a separate per-user fee on top of a UCaaS subscription. For example, 8×8 ContactNow Pro for informal contact centers is $50 per user over and above the monthly fee for 8×8 Virtual Office Classic. The full-featured 8×8 Virtual Contact Center (VCC) service runs even higher as do competing CCaaS offers – generally, above $100 per agent per month.
- All-in-One UC/CC – As noted, the new X8 Edition all-in-one bundle for communications, collaboration and contact center is a particular differentiator not only from the earlier 8×8 Virtual Office Classic, but also from competing UCaaS offers. With the earlier offer, Virtual Office customers with a contact center requirement could opt to add the 8×8 ContactNow informal contact center solution or the full-featured 8×8 Virtual Contact Center (VCC) service. The X8 bundle, however, embeds key functionality from 8×8 ContactNow, namely inbound/outbound contact center with 2,000 outbound minutes to the U.S. included ($.03/minute thereafter), three months of contact center call recording storage, visual IVR, as well as graphical reports and analytics, including on call quality.
- Larger Set of Bundled Features – The new X Editions include as standard many capabilities that are add-on options for 8×8 Virtual Office Classic. 8×8 Virtual Office Meetings for audio, web and video collaboration is an option for Classic, but comes standard with all X packages. Essential Analytics (detailed extensions reporting) and CRM integrations (Salesforce, Zendesk and NetSuite CRM) are also included with each X Edition. Salesforce analytics and the Operator Switchboard software-based app for live call visibility and handling, optional for Classic, are bundled with X5 and X8 Editions.
- Unlimited International Calling – Each of the new X editions includes unlimited international calling to a large number of countries – 14 countries (X2), 32 countries (X5) and 45 countries (X8). The advantage here is that customers do not need to pay an extra fee for global services as with many competing UCaaS offers.
8×8 will continue to offer the 8×8 Virtual Contact Center (VCC) service to businesses headquartered in the U.S., UK and Australia, as well as the 8×8 ContactNow informal contact center solution for SMBs and teams in the U.S. and UK (ContactNow was previously available in the UK and is from the 8×8 acquisition of DXI in May 2015). These contact center services can be sold standalone (without 8×8 Virtual Office) as they are vendor-agnostic and can work over the top of other vendor’s telephony solutions.
As noted above, 8×8 is looking to rapidly bring new SMB customers into the new 8×8 Virtual Office X Editions and will be gathering feedback in the coming months. Over time, we expect the 8×8 Virtual Office Classic bundles will disappear, and all 8×8 customers, including enterprise customers, will migrate to the X Editions. Stay tuned for updates.