Customers are looking into alternatives to Zoom for their unified communications and collaboration needs, according to one telecom expert.
“I think you’ll see the Zoom licenses dropping as time goes on,” iTelecom CEO Micah Bevitz said. “The UCaaS providers are really going to be helping companies get through this continued pandemic.”
Bevitz said Zoom’s rise to promise made sense. The platform gained momentum during the spring when individuals and companies took advantage of free licenses and trial licenses.
“When this pandemic hit, everybody was trying to find best ways to work from home and best ways to keep everybody connected,” Bevitz told Channel Partners. “And by virtue of Zoom being a very easy tool to use, it propagated very quickly amongst organizations.”
And although Bevitz said Zoom works very well for networking contexts – particularly as the number of users increases – he said Zoom lacks the security and collaboration capabilities that many companies need.
Moreover, customers don’t want siloed communications solutions. Bevitz said iTelecom is fielding calls from people that want a unified experience.
“They don’t want a separate Zoom account and a separate chat account and a separate text account. They want everything together in a single plane of glass,” he said.
As for Zoom alternatives, Bevitz pointed to Mitel, RingCentral, 8×8 and Star2Star as UCaaS vendors that can provide teamwork-based collaboration and conferencing for up to 20 users. He also listed Microsoft Teams/Office 365, provided that you don’t work directly with Microsoft.
For the customers that simply want to add video conferencing, Bevitz characterized Join.me and GoToMeeting as more secure alternatives to Zoom.
Bandwidth Challenges and Solutions
Bevitz said his company, a cloud and telecom master agent, is seeing more demand for SD-WAN as remote workers share home internet with roommates.
In fact, Bevitz recently installed Bigleaf Networks‘ home SD-WAN solution to help him, his wife and child manage their applications. Bigleaf balances the Spectrum coaxial cable and AT&T U-verse internet in the Bevitz household.
And it’s working.
“When my son and wife are really pummeling one of the connections, the service will automatically start using another one. So when I am on that video conference call and I’m using the coax connection, and my roommates hop on and start using it too, it will automatically start using the other connection, or whatever connection is best,” Bevitz said.
Bevitz said many companies have been using this type of solution to keep their CEOs and vice presidents online. In fact, he anticipates a trend of more business-class home networks.
“Eventually I think you will find this in any mission-critical worker’s home,” he said.
Bevitz said Bigleaf is the main company that’s providing home SD-WAN. For many vendors, the challenge will be delivering a solution with a low enough cost per unit.
“We’re going from these big office networks with hundreds of endpoints to hundreds of home offices with only a handful of endpoints. It certainly has changed the internal architecture of a company, no doubt,” he said.
The Pasadena, California-based master agent last month launched iAgent app, a social media environment for carriers and agents to communicate. Agents log into the online portal to view updates from various vendors to which they’ve subscribed. Bevitz said iAgent bucks the trend of master agents inundating their agents with vendor emails.
“The younger a person is, the less and less they want to use email. They want to be served their information in bite-sized pieces at their leisure, and they only want to be served what they’ve asked for,” he said.
Agents join carrier groups, which have an accessible channel manager. Bevitz said this dynamic creates a smoother process.
“We wanted to get out of the way of the relationship between the agent and the carriers. We find that master agents do a very poor job of being the liaison between the two, especially when it comes to personal relationships,” he said.
Also, a mobile app designed for Apple and Android lets agents pull information about carriers and pricing when talking to customers.
John Lindsley, Mitel’s vice president of channels, praised the new portal.
“It’s the type of innovation and forward thinking that I’ve seen by Micah and the iTelecom team for over 10 years now. Congrats, and we at Mitel look forward to continued growth with you and your iAgent community,” Lindsley said.