Written by Rob Quickenden, Cisilion’s Chief Technology Officer.
With ISE 23 kicking off this week in Barcelona, the UC world will no doubt be excited to see the developments, fruition and live demos of Cisco tech running Microsoft Teams.
This is significant for several reasons. Of course, Microsoft can run Webex, Zoom, RingCentral, and others from within Teams and many of the Teams hardware from Yealink, Poly, Logi etc can also run both Zoom and Teams on the same hard hardware, but this requires a reboot of the hardware causing a less than slick experience.
Is Cisco Rooms on Teams the beginning of a bigger plan?
What Cisco and Microsoft have done differently is that with this partnership, Cisco devices will not only run Webex or Teams, but the Cisco Meeting room kit will be able to do this seamlessly without a reboot.
It will be interesting to see if any other announcements this week suggest that other Teams & Zoom meeting room kit will be looking to do the same!
Why is this significant?
The big questions is why would Microsoft find value in this after all Microsoft now has close to 300 million monthly active users and is the clear leader in is this space which it continues to innovate with new services and revenue streams expected from the recent launch of Teams Room Pro and Teams Premium.
According to analysts, Cisco and Microsoft share close to 90 percent of the same customers. Not necessarily in the collaboration space but across the board. Where that is Cisco’s networking business or Call Manager or Webex, Security or indeed their Contact Contact centre (which is soon to be certified for Teams.)
Most organisations like the idea of a smaller number of vendors to work with and if they can standardise on Cisco and Microsoft for their meeting room technology (since Microsoft don’t make the hardware for their Teams Rooms), this could be a big advantage.
For Cisco, this also means that they don’t loose the hardware and maintenance on their room systems should their Webex customer base decide to move partly or in full to Microsoft Teams.
For Microsoft, I think this also means bringing Cisco in as more of an advocacy – protecting both their install bases from their joint competition in this collaboration and voice space – Zoom, Google and RingCentral…vendors both Cisco and Microsoft do not want to see penetrate or weave into their account base.
Is this really about CPaaS?
Cisco is betting heavily on the success of its redefined Contact Centre solution Webex Contact Centre which could become a real significant player in the CCaaS space for Teams users and not just Webex customers.
Since the partnership was announced at Ignite, just before Xmas, much of Cisco messaging has been around adding value to Teams rather than replacing it (though Cisco hope of course customers will still invest in Webex). The focus of much of the marketing is around making the user experience on Teams better by using Cisco technology.
“Elevate your Microsoft Teams Rooms experience with Cisco devices”
Here’s where CPaaS comes in. This partnership with Microsoft is also a great opportunity for Cisco to leverage its broader UC portfolio to add their Webex Contact Center natively into Team, attacking the plethora and crowded market of Teams certified contact centres such as Luware, Anywhere 365 and Enghouse.
The Cisco Webex Contact Centre is already a highly-regarded CCaaS solution, soon to be certified by Microsoft for Teams (maybe as soon as this week?).
Cisco and Microsoft – Better together?
Only time will tell.. If the plan plays off Cisco should certainly be able to capitalise on market growth and their reputation and proven success in the CCaaS space. If they can secure Webex as the CPaaS of choice for Teams, this could significantly reverse the declining market share that Cisco has been suffering of late.
This will also help Microsoft block their other completion and prevent players like Zoom getting into their accounts. Together Cisco and Microsoft should be able to protect their join customer base making it harder for other UC vendors to eat their share.
Who might loose out to this partnership?
The Teams Room space is already well served by flexible, innovate solutions from the likes of Yealink, Poly, Neat and Logitech etc. For Teams organisations already invested in these brands, I see them sticking, but customers moving from Cisco to Teams now have the ability to reduce cost, maintain ‘brand’ and leverage their investment and partnership with Cisco with less disruption, upheaval and change.
The CPaaS providers that develop Teams certified contact centres may be most worried by this partnership, since Cisco will now able to compete in their space which, whilst already crowded, lacks many true enterprise grade solutions like Cisco have.