Towards the tail end of 2022, Microsoft and Cisco announced a new partnership.
For many, the most significant takeaway was that Microsoft Teams Rooms would support Cisco’s video equipment.
Already, there is much precedence for such moves, with Microsoft striking similar deals with Poly, Logitech, and several others.
In addition, interoperability proved a significant focus for Cisco in 2022.
So, what’s the big deal?
First, Cisco has exclusive benefits. One of these is that businesses can run Webex on Microsoft Teams.
Of course, Microsoft can run Zoom, RingCentral, and others on the same equipment. Yet, that comes with a catch. Businesses must reboot their devices.
For Cisco, this is different. Instead, businesses can seamlessly port over to Webex.
Here, Microsoft is breaking its standard for Teams integrations, which perhaps reinforces the following narrative…
Microsoft Picks Cisco as Its Chief Competitor
“UCaaS has always been a zero-sum game,” stated Dave Michels, Lead Analyst at TalkingPointz.com, in conversation with Evan Kirstel. “Businesses pick one UCaaS system, and that is the corporate standard.
In striking this deal, both Microsoft and Cisco changed their language. They suggested that maybe a business can have two: Teams and Webex. That is a significant shift in the conversation.
Yet, why would Microsoft find value in this? After all, with 270 million monthly active users – as of January 2022 – it enjoys a substantial market lead.
Perhaps because it senses the burgeoning battle for second place. After all, Microsoft has a vested interest in who will become the Samsung to its Apple.
There is a compelling argument for Zoom, RingCentral, and Google – alongside Cisco – becoming the chief competitor.
Zoom is making especially significant strides. Indeed, the vendor increased its UCaaS market share by 40 percent in 2022, according to Synergy Research Group.
Such growth is counteracting the decline in its consumer business since the end of the pandemic.
But it’s seemingly not Microsoft’s preference. Instead, Michels believes its favored competitor became evident in the announcement: Cisco.
Why? “Because they already share probably about 90 percent of the same customers. They have already established boundaries,” he said.
“Microsoft has no desire to see Zoom, RingCentral, or Google in any of its accounts.”
There are arguments to suggest otherwise, including Microsoft’s partnership with RingCentral. Yet, a blossoming partnership with Microsoft is a big boost for Webex that extends beyond UCaaS and into the broader enterprise communications space.
Opening a Door for Webex In CCaaS?
As many businesses strive to replace redundant collaboration tools with an all-encompassing platform – primarily to cut costs – the partnership may help Webex make UCaaS gains.
Indeed, since striking the deal, much of its messaging has involved adding value to Teams, making the user experience better than Microsoft can.
“Elevate your Microsoft Teams Rooms experience with Cisco devices” is just one example of a Webex video that includes such messaging.
However, the opportunity for Cisco to leverage its broader portfolio to enhance Teams extends further and into the CCaaS space.
Indeed, Webex offers a highly-regarded CCaaS solution, soon to be certified by Microsoft for Teams. It is more advanced than Microsoft’s cloud contact center platform, which remains in its infancy.
As such, the move opens the door for Cisco to offer Teams users a native solution they can have more confidence in.
Such an offering becomes increasingly appealing as more people use contact center tools besides agents. For instance, many marketing and sales teams, account managers, store workers, and field service people now use them, pushing the market value of CCaaS higher.
If Cisco can capitalize on that trend and become the CCaaS provider of choice for the extensive Teams userbase, Webex will receive a considerable shot in the arm.
Moreover, it allows Microsoft and Cisco to seize a bigger piece of the enterprise communications pie, which may worry other stalwarts of the space moving into 2023.