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Monday, March 27, 2017

SaaS & UCaaS - aiming for Enterprise Eyeballs

I'm at Enterprise Connect in Orlando this week, talking to people about trends in business communications, notably UC, conferencing, cPaaS and contact centres. I'm curious to see the current real-world adoption of WebRTC, shifts around enterprise mobility/wireless, integration with VoLTE, and adjacent technologies such as SD-WAN, machine-learning and IoT integration.

One unexpected thing has become clear from Day 1: the enterprise market is following the consumer web insofar as every vendor and service provider wants to maximise share of users' attention, or "eyeballs".

While in the consumer world, this is all about advertising and data - spending hours on Facebook translates to more chances to see ads, as with TV - in the business world it's a bit different. 

Because software has license fees or XaaS subscription revenues, all the vendors want to create "platforms" in which customers' employees "spend their day", at least when they're in front of a PC or mobile device. More time potentially equates for higher per-seat fees, plus more chance for selling extra modules of software.

So a UC or UCaaS provider wants to be the hub for calls, chat, conferencing, collaboration, "enterprise social", customer interation, productivity and so forth. Cisco, Broadsoft, RingCentral, even Amazon with its new Chime app, all have pretensions to being where you spend hours a day "doing work". 

An office suite provider like Microsoft wants the same thing - you should be sending emails and doing presentations, and communicating from there. One speaker today described workers having different "jumping-off points" for setting up meetings or collaborating. One employee might have a Salesforce interaction as a trigger, others could be inside Slack or Outlook or a call-centre front-end (or various vertical-specific applications).

Obviously many jobs only have a few minutes a day in front of a screen or on a phone, but others (knowledge workers) involve hours. There's probably a big-data and machine-learning play emerging here as well, where increased eyeball-minutes can yield insights into worker productivity and process efficiency. Arguably Google scores extra points here too, if you're logged in and using Chrome for some of your work.

As far as I know there's no business-world equivalent of TV viewing-habits or web-browsing statistics. But there's certainly a rush for different vendors and XaaS providers to drive up their ratings. I expect we'll see a much broader focus on "enterprise eyeballs" through 2017 and beyond.

EDIT: A good point from a commenter on my LinkedIn, that other players here are workflow & ERP providers. A lot of people will "live" primarily in SAP, Oracle etc during their day - those could also be the hub for UC and collaboration as well. Also, for the consumer space, ComScore have just published research (link) on how people spend their "digital minutes" (ugh, horrible expression) - a business-user version would be fascinating.

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