The business communications industry is evolving fast in terms of technology, but also in the number of vendors and providers competing in this market.
There were several major shake-ups that impacted the unified communications (UC) space in 2017. Mitel purchased the Toshiba Telecom assets and acquired ShoreTel (ShoreTel’s Connect CLOUD and Connect ONSITE are now part of Mitel’s flagship portfolio). Cisco announced the acquisition of cloud unified communications wholesaler BroadSoft (this merger is now complete; more to come on what this means to the portfolios, partners and customers going forward). Other significant consolidations in 2017 included NetFortris–Fonality, West–Vocus Group, 3CX–Askozia, Sonus–Genband, VMware–VeloCloud, and Windstream–Broadview Networks.
Speculation about the fate of Avaya was ongoing throughout 2017 after its voluntarily filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Avaya has successfully emerged now as a public company with new leadership and is rapidly rolling out new initiatives and solutions. Avaya also announced the acquisition of cloud contact center service provider, Spoken Communications (more on this below).
Consolidations continue. Already in 2018, just a couple of months into the new year, we’ve heard about a significant number of mergers as UC vendors look to round out their portfolios and expand into new markets. See below for highlights of several recently-announced mergers, listed alphabetically by the acquiring company.
Avaya is acquiring Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) provider (and partner) Spoken Communications, adding a multi-tenant, fully cloud-based contact center offering to Avaya’s portfolio. The two companies partnered previously in a 2014 cross-selling agreement to offer a hybrid cloud CCaaS solution for enterprise contact centers, and in 2017, to integrate Avaya customer engagement technologies into Spoken’s ConversationCenter as a pure cloud offering. With the two companies as one, development efforts will accelerate, and new CCaaS offerings will emerge to facilitate Avaya customer migration to the cloud – a key goal for Avaya going forward. The deal also brings with it Spoken’s forward-looking IntelligentWire artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies. The transaction is expected to close in March 2018.
CoreDial expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) provider Voice4Net, adding a suite of cloud-based contact center and customer engagement solutions to CoreDial’s telephony and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) offerings. CoreDial has an all-channel business model and offers its cloud services to Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Interconnects and Carriers in the United States, through a private label program. Over the past year, CoreDial has rolled out a number of enhancements in response to channel partner feedback, including unique support for two call control platforms (Asterisk and BroadSoft BroadWorks) and bi-modal applications that work across both; more on that here. Now, partners can offer an integrated UCaaS and CCaaS solution, as well as standalone contact center services that are compatible with leading voice and UC platforms. The Voice4Net solutions, now rebranded CoreDial’s CoreNexa Contact Center, include omni-channel customer service (voice, SMS, email and live chat) with intelligent call routing and inbound/outbound communications, custom IVR (Interactive Voice Response), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and other related solutions. The transaction is complete; channel partners can begin selling the CoreNexa Contact Center suite as of March 2018.
Genesys just announced the acquisition of cloud-based customer journey analytics provider, Altocloud, to strengthen its portfolio with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities. The Altocloud contextual communications platform uses data analytics, machine learning and reporting to analyze and understand customer behavior patterns, making it possible to see what visitors are viewing as they click through a website, for example. Altocloud’s Identity Graph provides a 360 degree or a “holistic” view of the customer journey that consolidates and presents data collected various devices and platforms that a customer may use. Genesys will be integrating Altocloud with its PureEngage platform first (Genesys Enterprise Edition offerings), followed by its PureCloud multi-tenant suite that runs on Amazon Web Services and PureConnect, the company’s all-in-one software suite (CIC and CaaS); more on the Genesys portfolio here. Per Genesys, the Altocloud solutions will complement its own initiatives around “blended AI” that combines live agent interactions with AI, bots and machine learning. The transaction is complete; Genesys expects to start offering Altocloud capabilities to customers in the second half of 2018.
LogMeIn announced its intent to acquire Jive Communications, adding Jive’s cloud-based voice, video, contact center and mobile applications to its portfolio of collaboration products that includes GoToMeeting and join.me. The combination gives LogMeIn a more comprehensive suite of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) services. Over the past few years, Jive made some of its own acquisitions to expand into new markets, including purchasing Canadian Business VoIP provider FonAngle and audio/web conference service vendor Speek. Jive Video Professional, a multi-point video conferencing service with content sharing, launched in 2016. A new cloud-based call center offer that integrates with the Jive’s Voice Hosted PBX service debuted in 2017 (Jive Contact Center Pro powered by inContact is available for more sophisticated contact center requirements). The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.
Ooma extends its portfolio and global reach with the acquisition of unified communications as a service (UCaaS) provider Voxter Communications. Voxter, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, provides telephone numbers in over 130 countries and operates data centers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia. Voxter services, including voice, video and messaging solutions for mid-market and enterprise businesses, complement the Ooma Office telephony platform for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). The acquisition also brings additional functionality from Voxter around mobile apps, collaboration, contact center and application integration, as well as three channel partner programs with retail, wholesale/white-label and referral-based models. The Ooma-Voxter transaction is expected to close in March 2018. Also recently, Ooma purchased Butterfleye, Inc. and its Wi-Fi video camera platform for homes and small offices. The Butterfleye technology incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) for facial and audio recognition and Butterfleye’s patent-pending activity-based recording. Ooma is integrating the Butterfleye wire-free, rechargeable HD camera with its own security solutions, but will also continue to sell the cameras standalone under the Butterfleye brand. The Ooma-Butterfleye transaction is complete.
Polycom adds new technology and software with the acquisition of Obihai Technology, a California-based developer of software and hardware for Voice over IP (VoIP) enabled devices. Obihai’s OBi Series IP phones, VoIP Telephone Adapters and accessories are sold by Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs) to residential and business subscribers. The merger will not only broaden Polycom’s audio and video endpoint portfolio, but will expand its range of customers, partners and market reach. Polycom highlights the “magic” of Obihai’s technology stack that enables flexible integrations and customizations through the OBiTALK service API (Application Programming Interface). In 2017, Polycom was among the first to offer a Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) program that makes some of its desktop business phones and conferencing devices available as a monthly subscription; we’ll know more about any plans for incorporating the Obihai phones into this program as 2018 unfolds. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018. [Since the posting of this article, Plantronics announced its intent to acquire Polycom; the transaction is expected to close by the end of the third calendar quarter of 2018.]
Sangoma Technologies Corporation continues to tap into new markets with the recent acquisition of the Converged Communication Division from Dialogic Corporation, adding a full line of VoIP and media gateways, telephony cards, modems and media boards to the Sangoma portfolio. The Dialogic CCD products are complementary to the Sangoma line-up and will open new channel opportunities to sell the combined set of products. Sangoma, perhaps best known for its VoIP gateways, session border controllers, telecom interface cards and Microsoft Skype for Business related products, has broadened its customer reach in recent years with other acquired technologies, namely fax-over-IP (from RockBochs) and open source telephony and unified communications (from Schmooze Com). Sangoma entered the cloud UC space in 2016; more on that here. The Sangoma-Dialogic CCD transaction is complete.
Star2Star Communications and European UCaaS provider Blueface have merged, following a partner relationship over the past two years. The combined companies have formed a new corporate entity called “StarBlue,” but for now, each will continue to operate in their respective markets under their current names, Star2Star in the United States and Blueface in EMEA. In a cross-selling arrangement, each will offer products and services from the other. This includes Star2Star’s hybrid cloud solution that combines an on-premises phone system and Internet router with cloud-based UC services (branded “StarSystem Hybrid”) and the Blueface multi-tenant, fully hosted cloud telephony/UC service (branded “StarSystem Hosted”). Star2Star also offers Software-defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), a networking technique that helps to ensure the Quality of Service (QoS) of cloud-based applications running over public Internet connections. The transaction is complete.
Stay tuned as news of additional mergers is likely soon, particularly in light of the Enterprise Connect Conference and Expo taking place March 12-15 in Orlando, Florida. There will be a flurry of announcements coming out of the event. 2018 is certain to be another year of major change in the fast-evolving business communications industry.