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Coronavirus Making A Strong Case For UC&C Solutions, Says Partners

"We've always used tools like WeChat to interact with people in China and we are doing a little more conferencing, but the reality is, business has slowed down," says one solution provider that partners with Chinese tech vendors.

Unified communications and collaboration solutions are having a moment in the midst of coronavirus, a global outbreak that has affected the tech conference scene in early 2020 and travel plans for countless people.

Quy "Q" Nguyen, founder and CEO of Allyance Communications, one of the top global communications solution providers, said that the coronavirus outbreak is sure to result in a spike in the use of unified communications as a service offering like Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams and Slack.

Nguyen holds one of the highest frequent flyer statuses for Delta Airlines and frequently travels around the world meeting with Allyance customers. Nguyen said he has altered his own business travel as a result of coronavirus and has been avoiding connections in Asia for travel to the Middle East.

[Related: MWC Barcelona 2020 Called Off Due To Coronavirus ]

Instead of traveling internationally, many solution providers are opting to hold remote meetings using videoconferencing and collaboration solutions with colleagues and clients around the world. And it's not just would-be face-to-face meetings that are being impacted. Some of the largest annual tech events are also feeling the effects of coronavirus.

The GSM Association, the organization that runs the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, called off the 2020 event scheduled to start on Feb. 24 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The cancellation came after many of the world's largest tech vendors back out of the event because of concerns around travel and the safety of their employees.

Global solution provider World Wide Technology (WWT) was one of the many companies that cancelled its own attendance to MWC 2020 before it got called off by the GSMA, said Bob Olwig, vice president of business development and marketing for St. Louis, Mo.-based based WWT.

Two weeks ago, WWT had 1,300 of its leaders converge onto San Antonio, Texas, for its annual leadership conference. The firm asked its team from China to stay home. Instead, WWT broadcasted the event via Webex so the executives could still participate, Olwig said.

"We continue to monitor the situation for our employees, our partners and our customers," he said of the outbreak.

Phillip Walker, customer advocate CEO for Network Solutions Provider based in Manhattan Beach, California, typically would have a couple of trips to China on the books by this point in the year, but Walker is keeping his Asia travel plans "in a holding pattern" right now, he said.

"Everyone is being more cautious right now and no one is promoting any innovation conferences in China at this point," Walker said.

Network Solutions Provider is a big partner of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei and Walker travels to China twice a year for executive meetings and events. China Airlines, the national carrier of Taiwan, is a customer of Network Solutions Provider.

UC and collaboration tools are helping to bridge the gap for companies that are taking travel precautions right now, Walker said.

"We've always used tools like WeChat to interact with people in China and we are doing a little more conferencing, but the reality is, business has slowed down," he said. "People are working [in China], but many aren't working outside of their houses."

The number of novel coronavirus deaths has risen to 2,118, out of 74,976 confirmed cases diagnosed globally since Dec. 31, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of this writing.

Tech giant IBM this week became the first high-profile company to pull out of attending the RSA conference slated to begin on Feb. 24 in San Francisco. The company cited coronavirus as the reason for changing its RSVP.

Amazon, the owner of Amazon Web Services, in January restricted business travel to and from China in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Google in the same month suspended operations at its offices in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for an undermined amount of time.

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