Q: What UC trends do you think will dominate 2018?
A: AI will be a big trend as companies add AI capabilities to their offerings. This will range from basic bots (which may or may not be considered AI), to intelligent assistants that help schedule and manage meetings and calendars.
Q: We saw Cisco announce their intention to acquire BroadSoft in October – what impact will this have in 2018?
A: I think this is a very positive move for Cisco, which was struggling in the mid-to-low end of the cloud market. BroadSoft gives Cisco a strong solution for service providers to sell cloud solutions, and I expect them to do well with it. It will cause some competition for companies that compete with BroadSoft, such as GENBAND and Metaswitch, and will also create more competition for companies like RingCentral and Five9. Some of BroadSoft's partners are concerned about how they'll fit in a Cisco world, especially the Tier 2 and 3 players. I believe the Tier 1 players like Verizon and AT&T really welcome this news, but the smaller players are more concerned. They're afraid that they won't get the love and attention from Cisco that they got from BroadSoft.
Q: Do you think the Skype for Business Online/ Microsoft Teams announcement rocked the boat for Skype for Business? How do you see this playing out in 2018?
A: I think this actually sets Microsoft back a bit – customers will put decisions on hold until they hear more from Microsoft about dates and service offerings. Right now, it looks like they muddied the water a bit. Teams doesn't have telephony features, and Microsoft has stated they will be available in the second half of 2018 via integration to the Skype for Business Enterprise Server. The lack of clarity right now will cause some customers to look for alternatives for telephony.
Q: Do you think Avaya is likely to make any big waves on the UC market in 2018 after their emergence from Chapter 11?
A: Under new leadership, I expect to see Avaya moving quickly to show that they haven't been keeping still while going through Chapter 11. Avaya's big push in 2018 will be in the cloud. I don't know if they'll be making any big waves, but they'll need to show that they're still innovative and not just supporting an aging product base. A big part of what Avaya will be doing in 2018 will be focusing on verticals. The company has also been busy innovating and will be introducing products related to AI, bot frameworks, blockchain, and other emerging areas.