We thought we’d take a look at the world’s biggest vendors in unified communications.
Our list is based on total organisation revenue (income) not profit, and the variance shown is 2016 versus 2015 revenues.
|Company||Country of Origin||Revenue 2016 (rounded)||Variance|
|Google – Alphabet Inc||USA||$90 billion||17%|
|Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise – China Huaxin||China||Unknown||See note*|
|NEC Corporation||Japan||$25 billion||-4%|
|Unify – Part of Atos SE||Germany||$11 billion||10%|
The Ones to Watch…
Amazon is number one on our watch list. We’ve picked up on a rumour recently that they might buy Slack for an astonishing $9 billion! If they do, then their Amazon Chime UC platform will probably merge and take an enormous piece of the UC cake. I think we shouldn’t underestimate Amazon’s power to overtake many (or any) of the leading unified Comms vendors.
Google doesn’t play too well in the traditional PBX / corporate telephony market, however, it does claim a big chunk of the UC market with Hangouts. PBX vendors need to interconnect more with Hangouts, Meet and G-Suite, however I can’t see Google wanting to replace the PBX anytime soon.
Microsoft Skype for Business adoption keeps on growing. Thanks to the online (Office365) edition it’s much more accessible for small businesses. However the online edition is extremely limited in terms of PBX features, so I don’t think it’s going to completely replace the small office telephone system in all cases. The Skype for Business ecosystem of vendors and complimentary applications keeps on growing – if I was a PBX vendor I’d be integrating with SfB the best I can and plugging the capability gaps of Skype for Business.
Cisco is a pioneer for enterprise communications at the moment with Cisco Spark. Cisco is one of the most innovative players in UC at present with technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, IoT, and cloud. This brand is one of my personal favourites due to their VR meeting room solution… mind blowing!
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) is a solid contender for the top spot along with Avaya, Unify and Mitel. Their latest innovation is Rainbow which only launched in Dec 2016. ALE’s approach is to overlay Rainbow onto virtually any PBX (theirs preferably, I imagine) and offer an open architecture UC platform to enterprises looking for that something special, including ready to go CPaaS, for all you coders out there.
NEC continues to offer a feature-rich on-premises UC platform for small to medium size business. They also have their software based Univerge 3C platform which takes them into the larger markets. The Japanese are a bit late to the UCaaS market but starting to make some traction now with UNIVERGE BLUE in North America however, nothing yet available in the UK and Europe.
Unify (formerly Siemens) is breaking through with their new team collaboration app. Circuit looks great and overlays itself nicely across many of their call controllers for general PBX functionality. A good solid contender for Mitel and Avaya due to their on-premise, hybrid and public cloud capabilities.
Avaya has had a tough time with chapter 11 this year, however they are set to bounce back very soon – fitter, leaner and financially stronger. Avaya will want to show the market they are here to stay, I expect to see plenty of announcements from Avaya going forward into 2018.
Mitel continues their buy and build strategy. Since the acquisition of Aastra (etc. etc.) and now ShoreTel, the Mitel customer base continues to grown terms of size and geography. They have a lot of systems in their portfolio now and thousands of staff to integrate…Don’t expect groundbreaking innovation from Mitel anytime soon..
RingCentral and 8×8 are ‘pure play’ cloud communications vendors and because they were born in the cloud they are hugely agile. They are both growing fast and quickly achieving feature parity with the traditional PBX platforms. I predict that when it comes to these two, we haven’t seen anything yet.
BroadSoft is the stealth bomber of UC. Everyone knows the brand and if I had a pound for each time a sales person complained about being beaten up by a BroadSoft reseller I’d be a rich man. BroadSoft takes the biggest chunk of the UCaaS pie globally (approx 40%) according to Frost & Sullivan. My prediction is that BroadSoft will surprise us sometime soon with their next big move, which will further cement their path to being a world-leader in business communications.
To be fair to all the above vendors in the list, all have lots of really good stuff going on. The unified communications market is hypercompetitive nowadays with more and more companies entering the market each year. If you’re buying UC, remember big is not always best. In fact the smaller UC vendors are proving to be very agile right now, bringing new features and technologies to market much faster than the larger players.
Don’t be surprised if a brand-new player joins the UC crowd and takes us all by surprise…
*We made a correction in our table. China Huaxin is the owner of Alcatel Lucent Enterprise (ALE). Not to be confused with Nokia. Therefore ALE’s place in the above table is not correct. We will update it once we know the company’s 2016 revenue. Apologies for any confusion caused.