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UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
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There’s a new guy on the UCaaS block that’s worth a second look. This new purveyor of cloud-based UC is NextUC – currently a division of CallTower, but with a spin-off in the works with expected completion just around the corner, say June-July timeframe. NextUC comes along with both an intriguing business model and set of solution offerings.
The company focuses in on the sub-100 employee tech-savvy businesses. They’re seeing good traction with financial and professional consulting and businesses that lend themselves to virtual offices or multiple offices. What’s new here is the ability for any customer to come to www.nextuc.com, register, download all of the clients they want for the specific mobile devices they want support on and be up and running on NextUC’s hosted Microsoft Lync platform in 5-10 minutes with IM, presence, audio, video, web conferencing, UM (voicemail transcriptions) and PBX replacement services. Yes, I said it – PBX replacement services. Its enterprise voice feature set includes:
A key go-to-market (G2M) theme is to attract Microsoft Office 365 customers using the tag line: “NextUC: Giving Office 365 A Voice From The Cloud.” In particular, NextUC integrates with Microsoft’s Office 365 Exchange Plan 2 or Office 365 Plan E3. In furtherance of this G2M theme, NextUC is recruiting channel partners with an Office 365 practice offering them the opportunity to cross-sell NextUC voice to their customers, as well as prospect for new customers with a broader service offering. Pro services opportunities are likely to be found in either case as these small businesses with little or no IT staffs and fully focused on their own G2M priorities may welcome deployment support and network fine tuning for a richer UC experience.
NextUC offers a 60-day free trial inclusive of free outbound calling to the lower 48 states and free inbound toll free calling to audio conferences. There are no contracts for its service, service is month-to-month, and customers can shrink, grow or shutdown and move on at any time. After the trial, toll rates are $0.02 per minute lower 48 states, $0.03 for inbound toll free calling to audio conferences, and per call international.
NextUC will not be partnering with audio conferencing providers like InterCall, BP or Premiere Global. They’re relying on the Lync client for the audio conferencing. This strategic move is predicated on the belief that native Lync conferencing offers a superior user experience. Moreover this approach is consistent with business model sustainability. In a similar vein they act as the telecom provider for their customers. When a customer turns up telephony, NextUC works with the ultimate carrier so that they get everything through our cloud. NextUC allocates the DIDs and actually ports the DIDs over to the carrier. They will be releasing telephone number porting as part of this solution 3Q12.
What This Means to Customers
NextUC is essentially bringing a multi-tenant hosted UCC service based on Lync Server 2010 to its customers. It’s certainly worth a look. But be aware that their not the only hosted VoIP or UCaaS solution out there. Moreover, there are some things missing in today’s version. First of all, there is no real communications enabled business process (CEBP) capability. True, users can schedule a virtual meeting from Microsoft Outlook. And there is an API stack that both partners and customers can make calls to or write to. However, there aren’t any out of the box CEBP capabilities right now. Integration with Salesforce.com is on the roadmap, but more than likely than not this will be a 1Q13 deliverable. Furthermore, hosted contact center is not currently available.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?