02 May How Microsoft Teams has Influenced the UCaaS Market
No matter how you feel about Microsoft Teams, it’s impossible to ignore its impact on the communications landscape. Let’s look at some of the facts. As of 2021, Microsoft Teams announced it had around 145 million daily active users and 250 million monthly active users.
Microsoft also manages around 2.7 million meeting minutes, and delivers communication tools to over 181 countries in 44 languages. Clearly, this is a technology that’s taking the world by storm.
Interestingly, when Microsoft Teams was first released in 2016, no-one assumed the solution would become one of the world’s biggest UCaaS vendors. Teams was originally introduced as a competitor to collaboration tools like Slack, and a replacement for Skype for Business – an online meeting tool companies were already extremely fond of.
Now, Microsoft Teams has become a “Leader” on the Gartner Magic Quadrant, and a large number of companies in both the UCaaS and CCaaS worlds are building their communication strategies with a focus on integrating with Teams.
So, what happened?
How Microsoft Teams Became a World Leader in UCaaS
Microsoft Teams is far from the only solution for UCaaS on the market. It’s also not the only tool users can access when it comes to unlocking video meetings and collaboration. However, Microsoft is quickly consuming more of the market share for Unified Communication and Collaboration.
There are several reasons why the ecosystem has become so popular in the last few years. First and foremost, Microsoft Teams is designed to work seamlessly as part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. As of February 2022, Microsoft Office 365 controlled around 48.08% of the market share for office suite technologies worldwide. No other office suite solution comes close.
With more companies relying on aspects of “office” technology to keep their companies running, from Microsoft Outlook, to PowerPoint, SharePoint, and even Word, it’s hard to find a company which doesn’t have an existing investment in Microsoft.
As an “add-on” to the Office solutions many of the businesses around the world are already using, Teams seemed like a natural investment for many companies suddenly making the shift into a world where meeting and collaboration tools were crucial in the last couple of years.
In particular, when the pandemic hit in 2020, Teams seemed to many businesses like the path of least resistance, giving companies the chance to create a collaboration experience in an environment their employees were already comfortable with.
The Evolution and Extensibility of Microsoft Teams
With a huge existing presence in the technology stack of many major businesses, it was no surprise Microsoft Teams quickly became one of the most popular tools of the pandemic. In fact, during COVID-19, Microsoft Teams saw a 700% increase in use.
Microsoft’s extensive budget, access to innovative R&D opportunities, and extensive selection of engineers also meant the company could stay ahead of the latest trends for communication and collaboration as they emerged. For instance, over the last couple of years, we’ve seen Microsoft introduce everything from real-time translation and transcription to “Together Mode” for immersive video meeting, and Microsoft Viva for employee engagement tracking.
But how did Microsoft Teams make the transition from a leading collaboration tool into a world-changing UCaaS solution? The simple answer is flexibility.
Rather than asking companies to leave their existing communication providers, carriers, and packages behind, Microsoft allowed users to bring their phone vendors with them. Sparking a revolution in “Bring your Own Carrier” innovation, Microsoft introduced the concept of “Direct Routing” to the world, and ensured every business had the freedom to continue using the phone systems they were already confident in.
Direct Routing meant companies could make the rapid transition into the new age of remote, hybrid and flexible work with Microsoft Teams, without having to rip and replace existing technology. Rapidly, vendors in the communication market started working with Microsoft, rather than against them. A world of interoperability and integration was born.
Now, Microsoft has a range of direct routing partners connected to its network, and a larger number of UCaaS and CCaaS vendors are joining the marketplace all the time. Microsoft has even begun to introduce new extensibility options in the form of Operator Connect, and the AppSource market, where software vendors can connect their tools to Teams.
Paving the Way for a Flexible Future
Microsoft Teams hasn’t just created an incredible new environment within the UCaaS landscape, the solution has prompted a shift in the way people think about building their UCaaS stack. Today, rather than relying exclusively on all-in-one, full-stack vendors, companies are beginning to consider their options more carefully.
With Bring-Your-Own everything now becoming more common, businesses are in an excellent position to begin custom-making their ideal communication stacks in the cloud. You can choose your ideal phone system vendor and combine them with the collaboration features of Teams. You can also add in integrations with native app creators in the AppSource market or build your own low-code applications and automations with .
By creating a highly extensible and integrative environment, Microsoft has turned the standard “UCaaS” stack into a new virtual work hub, where companies can build everything they need in one unified cloud. You can even have your UCaaS and CCaaS environment connected in the same ecosystem with Microsoft Teams, provided you’re working with the right partners.
All the while, by taking this approach, Microsoft ensures it doesn’t have to fight against other UCaaS and CCaaS vendors with better communication technologies and years of experience. Instead, Microsoft can simply invite other vendors to join its community. According to CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, the aim is to make Teams a digital platform as significant and expansive as an internet browser, or operating system.
By embracing a “for Teams” approach in their technology stacks, modern UCaaS and CCaaS vendors have yet another valuable way to serve their customers and show their flexibility. Increasingly, being identified as “compatible with Teams” is becoming a table-stakes requirement in a lot of vendor strategies.
Microsoft has changed the way we view UCaaS forever. Whether you think the transformation is a good thing or not, it’s difficult to ignore the results.