8x8 Creates UC, Collaboration Cloud
8x8, a company that grew out of the VoIP space to become a major unified communications player, today announced another strategic initiative with the unveiling of its Communications Cloud offering. Communications Cloud incorporates the messaging and collaboration platform of Sameroom, a company 8x8 recently acquired. (See 8x8 Launches Communications Cloud and 8X8 Acquires Sameroom.)
The Communications Cloud is a significant step forward for 8x8 Inc. It signals the company's growing enterprise customer base, and the need for those enterprises to find easier ways to link employees and teams across distances via cloud-based services. It combines the UC capabilities for which 8x8 is known with team collaboration for chat and more enabled by Sameroom, contact center and real-time analytics, and integrated access to the most popular business applications.
The move puts 8x8 in competition with some industry giants such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), but the company is ready to play with the big guys, says Bryan Martin, chairman and CTO.
"We have put together what we feel is a comprehensive solution to communications, which includes contact center, real-time analytics, and is global, completely open and interoperable and super easy to use," he tells Light Reading in an interview. "We are trying to enable every single employee from the front desk to the customer service representative to the high-tech engineer, who is away living in Slack, we want to bring all of that together and make a seamless and intuitive interface that all of those constituents can access."
Sameroom is a critical piece of the Communications Cloud because it enables employees using different collaboration tools to communicate without requiring them to be on a single system. Sameroom CEO and co-founder Andrei Soroker says his company was one of the earliest team collaboration tools to be introduced, but was overwhelmed by an explosion of different services in the same space.
"We realized it was a really tough environment, and the number one problem we were seeing is that employees within a single company were already using several chat systems -- officially and unofficially -- and weren't able to communicate between those systems," he says in an interview. "We built Sameroom to address this problem."
Sameroom today has integrated about 30 different chat and collaboration platforms, including Slack, Skype, HipChat and more, allowing employees to communicate in real time from their existing platform to others on other platforms.
The Sameroom software development team will be joining the 8x8 team, adding its skills to future product development.
Combining multiple forms of communication in a single cloud service should make it easier for enterprises to eliminate information silos and to handle internal and external communications more efficiently without requiring difficult integration or movement of employees between systems, Martin says. For example, the 8x8 Communications Cloud integrates popular enterprise applications including Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics, as well as human resources and customer sales/support systems, so that data and intelligence from those systems can be used across the company.
"There's no need for a [CSR] to try to upsell a customer on the phone, if we know from another system that that customer may already be unhappy," he comments. "The Communications Cloud will have the ability to create those work streams, enabling the right APIs and the right customizations."
The new service has open APIs that will allow customers to expose data to existing enterprise applications including communication microservices for access to information from messaging and chat, interactive voice response and auto-attendant systems and more. Other APIs will access analytics data or enable automated provisioning for integrating Active Directory.
In addition, 8x8 provides Script8, which gives customers what the company says is a simple way to customize communications flow, using reusable widgets, that can prioritize communications and intelligently route calls and messages. That can enable things like giving higher priority to calls from top sales prospects, broadcasting voicemails to specific audiences, and providing directions via text messages.
Pricing for the new service is still to be announced – Martin says packages and prices will be part of what 8x8 announces later this year.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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