Cloud Contact Center And UCaaS: Better Together Or Best Of Breed?

Channel partners agree that cloud contact center is one of the hottest areas in IT right now. What isn’t clear is whether a best of breed approach, or a single vendor for all CCaaS and UCaaS needs is the way to go.


It’s one thing to have a strong internal communication strategy, but just as important is a businesses’ ability to connect with their own customers.

Unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) and collaboration tools have had their moment in the sun over the last year and a half, but many channel partners agree that cloud contact center is one of the hottest areas in IT right now. What isn’t so uniform, says channel partners, is whether it makes the most sense to stick with one vendor for all communications needs, or to go with a best of breed approach for contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) deployments.

AVANT Communications, a Chicago-based master agent counts UCaaS and contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) as big pieces of its business. “The CCaaS industry is blowing up. It’s blowing up just as much as the UCaaS industry,” said AVANT president and co-founder Drew Lydecker.

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There are some strategic advantages to having one provider for both UCaaS and CCaaS. However, internal collaboration and customer-facing communications are two very important applications with often divergent requirements and necessary features, Lydecker said.

“We’re really talking about two different things,” he said. “Sometimes, your contact center is vastly different than your unified communications environment and should be treated separately.”

[Related: The 10 Hottest Collaboration Tools Of 2021 (So Far)]

Solution provider giant World Wide Technology (WWT) is seeing a mixed bag of customers that go all-in with one vendor for all their communication and collaboration needs, as well as those that pick and choose separate providers to meet their UCaaS and CCaaS requirements.

“We’ve got a lot of customers who are Cisco UC and Cisco call center. And then we’ll have customers who are maybe Avaya for UC, but maybe Genesys or Cisco for the call center — it depends,” said Joe Berger, senior director of WWT’s digital workspace practice.

With an influx of cloud specialist entering the market, customers have their choice of any UC vendor, while still leveraging these flexible players for their cloud contact center expertise, Berger said. “There’s definitely some benefits to sticking on one vendor — maybe there’s some cost benefits there, too. But I don’t think it’s always a necessity,” he added.

The global CCaaS market size is expected to reach $10.80 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 15.7 percent from 2021 to 2028, according to a June report by market research and consulting company Grand View Research Inc. The report noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the CCaaS market positively as more businesses are turning their attention to enhancing customer satisfaction by solving their issues and promptly attending their calls. CCaaS has also allowed many businesses to embrace hybrid or remote working models.

A big value that partners are bringing to the table is listening to customers to break down their communication needs and then determining if the same UC vendor would also be a good fit for their contact center strategy, or, if there’s a better fit in the form of a different provider, said Larry Metzger, collaboration practice director at Trace3, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider that partners with many providers in the collaboration space, including Cisco, RingCentral, Zoom, and 8x8.

“What sets us apart is we want to understand their business before we offer a solution,” Metzger said. “We don’t show up and say: ‘This solves your problem.’ We show up and say: ‘What is your problem? What are your challenges? And what are you trying to do?’ Then, we go back to our toolbox and ask which of these [offerings] solves the problem?”

Some customers pick their UC providers based on the strength of their contact center offering, Metzger said. “If [the vendor] has something that stands out, that will be a deciding factor,” he said.

One recent Trace3 customer made a decision to go with one vendor for both their UC and contact center needs after evaluating a number of solutions. The main factor that sold them on the UCaaS solution was that it allowed them to gamify the call center experience for their agents, Metzger said. “Things like, how fast did you get off calls? Did you resolve this customer’s problem? Or were you able to solve it on the first call? Getting high scores and high ranks turned being an agent into a game,” Metzger said.

The UC vendor’s contact center offering set it apart, he said. “If that vendor had not had that gamification on the contact center, would they have gotten the whole deal? There’s a high probability that that would not have been the case.”

If the customer is leaning toward one vendor, Metzger said, “I usually look at the contact center as the primary because that for most companies, is the biggest financial aspect. You are either made or broke based on your contact center — that’s your front door with your customer.”

Still another recent Trace3 customer ended up selecting two separate offerings — RingCentral for its UC needs, and NICE inContact on the contact center side. If a customer has different needs, Trace3 will break the two solutions apart and sell customers on two separate UCaaS and CCaaS providers, Metzger said.

“We find in being agnostic that everybody’s got their niche,” he said. “There’s a lot of vendors out there and a lot of them have target markets, or they have a certain thing they can do better than anybody else.”