The psychological barriers of moving business foundations to the cloud started to erode in 1999 when business agreed to move some of their most valuable assets, their customer relationship management data, to the cloud with Salesforce. Over the past 12 years this trend intensified with many of the fundamental IT functions moving into the cloud (ERP, storage, security etc’). More recently, we have seen this phenomena go one step further as the core communication platforms, which connect the business with the outside world, are moving more and more into the cloud.
Unified Communication (UC) as-a-service started as a solution suited mainly for small and medium sized business. However, it has recently expanded to small and mid-sized enterprises, as the reliability and robustness improved over time. Enterprises that historically bought and maintained on-premise PBX, are finding the benefits of having a vendor manage and host their UC infrastructure compelling - no upfront capital cost, better utilization of hardware without the maintenance headaches, reduced technology risk, and above all it allows the business to focus on “what they know best”. We have seen this natural evolution from legacy, on-premise products to the cloud, and specifically to a platform-as-a-service solution in many of our portfolio companies.
We believe the quality of service and robustness of the solutions offered in the UC space today makes it ripe for disruption. However, there is still no clear leader in the space. The traditional on-premise vendors are confined by their legacy products. The carriers often struggle with long product development cycles that hinder their competitiveness against new entrants with greater agility. And many of the new cloud-VoIP providers focus on the SMB and do not have rich set of integrated UC which larger enterprises demand. There is a huge opportunity for a company to step in and own this booming new space.
We feel as though we have found that company in Thinking Phone Networks (TPN). TPN has developed a well-architected, robust and comprehensive solution: They provide a broad UC as-a-service portfolio which includes voice, video, mobile, IM/presence, analytics, and application integration APIs. Moreover, since they control the service, they can more easily adapt the product to customer needs than the traditional carrier software approach. This allows them to quickly provision and launch new deployments, easily integrate their UC solution to additional web services (e.g., CRM) and provide value-added analytics (e.g., tie mobile phone calls to Salesforce follow-ups).
We believe the future of UC is in the cloud and look forward to working with Thinking Phone Networks as they emerge in the space.