the dye was cast); then Yealink stepped
into that marketplace big time. Still, no
cool-looking phones yet. More than half
the unified communications seats are
softphone-only today. But I ask: is there
an end point that makes a customer go
“wow” (like an iPhone or Pixel)?
For SD-WAN, the CPE will be a
white box (not a Cisco or ADTRAN).
Who will be the first provider to turn
that around and brand that customer
end point (a la WiredIQ’s Brainbox)?
For that matter, which provider
will brand their service with a color,
logo, design and slogan that buyers
recognize or remember? It’s a big
undertaking, for sure. Among the
“Big 4” (Charter, Comcast, AT&T
and Verizon), the only branding is
an umbrella term like Xfinity, U-
Verse or Spectrum. The exceptions
are Verizon Wireless One Talk and
FiOS. Not much branding happen-
ing, even from the big guys.
Microsoft Office365 will likely take
a lot of air out of the UC space by
sheer force of marketing coupled with
its partner ecosystem, in my opinion.
And that tipping point is coming fast.
Consolidation in the VoIP/UC
space has slowed down. It is similar
to retail. Meanwhile, say “fiber” and
some companies with throw a bag
of money at you if you actually own
fiber strands in the ground.
VoIP/UC needs to shake things
up if they don’t want to crash and
burn. Right now, it’s similar to shop-
ping at Sears and JC Penney – drab
and all the same. It comes down to
price – even with channel partners.
And that price is getting lower every
quarter. It is unsustainable.
There has been a lack of discern-
able value in service offerings – and a
sameness that has resulted in a com-
modity mindset for most telecom ser-
vices. One reason for the sector to
have this problem is that too many of
the CEOs are techies, not business-
minded executives. Some of these
CEOs should have stepped aside
to a chairman or CTO role already.
8x8 did that in 2013, and it drastically
changed the growth at that company.
It went from $100 million in revenue
to $210 million in just four years.
Without a CMO and a business-mind-
ed CEO, how does a board of directors
expect the company to grow? When the
sector is examined, the giants – Ring-
Central, Vonage, 8x8 – have the right
people with those titles, folks who have
visions for company growth.
Providers can take a page from Target,
Best Buy, Etsy, eBay and even Groupon.
All of these companies have had ebbs
and flows but have pivoted or re-focused
on the customer and the experience to
improve results. That’s what is needed in
our space, right now.
Peter Radizeski, presi-
dent of RAD-INFO INC,
started as a VAR, then
became an Agent. Now he
writes about the channel and
the telecom space while consulting to
service providers and occasionally still
selling some circuits.
July - August, 2017