Weeks after the acquisition by cloud communications provider 8x8: Fuze announced it would replace its integrated UCaaS/CCaaS platform with a new iteration for PC and Mac users in early 2022.
You may recall details about the acquisition, which left some scratching their heads. The cloud communications provider had already raised $494 million in cash - but it only sold for $250 million. Something at the time, and still, does not add up.
Either way, it seems that 8x8 stands to benefit the most from the deal. Yet much remains to be seen from the buy-out - namely, will it get approved by the powers who be?
With its having been named the only visionary in this year’s UCaaS Magic Quadrant, something does begin to add up. Fuze has pumped out a tremendous amount of innovativeness during the Coronavirus Pandemic. I will touch on this a bit more in this piece. For now - here's the scoop on what is to become the new integrated Fuze UCaaS/CCaaS platform.
Introducing Fuze 7, New and Improved
The latest from Fuze is essentially a makeover of its entire platform. That is to say: when it is made available for PC and Mac users in Q1 2022.
At that moment, it will act as a replacement for Fuze's flagship software, a 'Fuze' desktop application. According to the company, its flagship offering will remain available for customers, though it is not clear as to how long. There will likely be a grace period followed by a soft rollout (eventually) to all users of Fuze 7. In a statement announcing the upcoming offering, Fuze wrote:
"Fuze 7 will combine the power of the Fuze communications platform with a new lightweight desktop application that more effectively empowers workers."
Next-generation Fuze technology will have (a ton) of fresh features. And they are kind that could very well provide more solid user experiences. For instance, the platform will extend faster loading times than previous iterations, will offer improved responsiveness, and more.
Fuze 7 will Further Include:
- A meeting mini-controller to view 'active speakers.'
- Screen sharing while multitasking.
- Background blur that places a focal point on the user.
- Screen share from chat, where users can share content without starting a meeting.
- Most importantly, a seamless user experience across desktop and web applications.
Rob Scudiere, President and Chief Operating Officer, Fuze, wrote in a statement that the new platform is primarily focused on UX (user experience) and, of course, customer service/support. It seems that the aim of Fuze 7: when it becomes available - will be for users to maximize productivity with the various tools available within the platform.
This is inherently one of the many components that go into creating the kind of experiences users now crave.
The announcement of Fuze 7 follows Fuze’s Fall platform update, which featured unique mobile, meetings, and admin features updates - along with Microsoft Teams integration enhancements. Although quite comprehensive, it (was) not enough for Fuze, and its upcoming version appears to demonstrate the innovativeness needed to stay relevant as a UCC provider in such a competitive landscape.
2020 brought a lot of possibility to Fuze: and it dove in, announcing expansions to its vertical solutions for manufacturing and recruiting. There were also platform integrations with Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, and GoogleMeet.
Fuze has more than 35 patents to date, and in 2021, it was the only one recognized as a "visionary" in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). Argon Research named the firm a leader in the 2021 Aragon Research Globe for unified communications and collaboration report - and a leader in the 2021 Aragon Research Globe for Video Conferencing, report.
Argon even placed the cloud comms provider on its list of contenders in the 2021 Aragon Research Globe for Intelligent Contact Center report.
Over the past year, Fuze has undergone plenty of changes and can now say it has many other differentiators under its belt. It has two new Microsoft Teams solutions — one that supports 'click to connect and direct routing; and an expanded developer ecosystem of APIs, along with out-of-the-box integrations for apps that range from Slack to Zapier, and Gmail.
Business Continuity is the Name of the Game
Seamless experiences across both desktop and PC - that is no minuscule task as one might rightfully assume. A cloud communications provider must work diligently to enable said experiences; otherwise, they risk becoming obsolete in the new and thriving experience economy - the idea of an organization selling experiences and not products.
Although it is obvious; products are the focus of the sales process: it is critical to point out that the user experience that software (or hardware) extends - is equally paramount for customers.
Avaya made the focus of its recent ENGAGE conference all about the experience economy:
Analysts at Gartner seem to back up the notion of the importance of enabling good experiences, with Jason Wong, Gavin Tay, Michael Chiu, and Brent Stewart writing about the experience economy:
"In the “experience economy, the memories, emotions, and feelings that customers take away are (ultimately) what matters most. To succeed in the digital experience economy, organizations must intertwine strategies that consist of multi experience (MX), user experience (UX), customer experience (CX), and employee experience (EX)."
Continuing, the bunch note that accomplishing this feat does take time. And the buy-in, as well as the involvement of "key" executives in marketing, sales, customer service, HR, operations, and IT, will have to occur. They will have to be convinced to get on board.
Analysts go on to say in the report, that for vendors to be successful in the experience new economy - they must set a vision and understand why the interconnected strategy should be a priority, even in the face of uncertainty.
Providers, according to the same Gartner report: must also "rally the right people. "Who does the organization need to engage, empower, or support?" They write. Investing in what analysts call "the right things" consists of understanding the core technologies, skills, and practices needed to deliver.
Lastly, analysts at Gartner note that organizations must take measured next steps on how (to best) implement and continuously improve that interwoven approach. To drive the point home further, a survey conducted by CRM provider SuperOffice found:
Of the nearly 2,000 business professionals surveyed, 46% of respondents said that customer experience "is a top priority for the next five years." The same survey unveiled - 86% of buyers say they would pay a premium for a good experience. If this isn't proof of being in the thick of an experience economy, I am not sure what is.