Vonage Adds NewVoiceMedia
Adding to its growing list of acquisitions, Vonage recently announced its latest acquisition - NewVoiceMedia. NewVoiceMedia is a growing contact center as a service (CCaaS) provider known for its integration with Salesforce.com (in fact, some of us were taken aback that Vonage, rather than Salesforce, was the acquirer).
It was very logical, and not unexpected, that Vonage would acquire a CCaaS vendor, as many businesses want a single vendor to provide both UCaaS and CCaaS. Vonage has been offering NICE inContact’s CCaaS offerings for several years, and has done a good amount of integration work. However, Vonage recognized the value of expanding its portfolio and owning the technology, as it can now be in control of the roadmap and offer tighter integration to be more competitive.
I recently had a call with Vonage’s Omar Javaid, Chief Product Officer, and Kenny Wyatt, Chief Revenue Officer, as well as NewVoiceMedia’s Chief Marketing Officer, John Eng, to discuss the acquisition.
Javaid and Wyatt explained that Vonage knew that it needed to get into CCaaS “in a big way,” and most companies in this position have to decide whether to build or buy. Noting that “We knew we wanted to get to CCaaS more quickly, building didn't make sense.” When asked “Why NewVoiceMedia?” they explained, “NewVoiceMedia has a great product, a great team, and real scale. Some companies have great technology but it hasn’t been tested in the real world. We wanted to have something that was more established. With NewVoiceMedia we got great go to market, scale, technology, and more. From the people perspective, we see the world in a similar way and we mesh culturally.”
Initially I was a bit concerned about NewVoiceMedia’s dependence on Salesforce, but after speaking with Vonage and NewVoiceMedia, my concerns were allayed.
Looking at the company’s history, Eng explained, “It’s been a thoughtful approach which led to our success. NewVoiceMedia focuses on customers who care about customer experience and gravitated toward creating that type of solution to help customers. CRM is the center of gravity in those situations. NewVoiceMedia aligned with the cloud, and at the time SalesForce was the leading player. We made a bet on Salesforce and it was the right bet.”
While the solution is tied to Salesforce for go-to-market activities, NewVoiceMedia is actually independent and works with other CRM applications and services.
Eng added, “Going forward, we will still partner strongly with SalesForce, as they’re the dominant force. We can also work with SAP, Zoho, etc. We will expand the addressable market by working with other CRM companies.” From a technology integration, NewVoiceMedia already has customers on SAP, Zendesk, and others, and will continue to integrate with other CRM vendors.
NewVoiceMedia’s long-term strategy is a CRM-centric approach. Vonage and NewVoiceMedia believe that as digital transformation continues to accelerate and customer experience (CX) becomes more tantamount, the largest investment customers make is in CRM. As Eng noted, “Why not utilize that to run the contact center?”
I also asked whether Vonage will continue to support NICE inContact and continue adding value to the NICE inContact solution. The answer was a clear Yes. For now, Vonage will have two contact center product lines, although I expect the company will revisit this down the road. Vonage will continue supporting NICE inContact and pursuing those opportunities, noting that there are different ways to serve the market, and Vonage will provide the contact center solution that makes sense for each customer. CRM-centric customers will use the NewVoiceMedia platform, while network-centric customers or those replacing a PBX will use the contact center platform that best meets their needs.
The plan is to keep NewVoiceMedia as a separate business operating entity. After the deal closes (which is expected in Q418), the product teams will come together to build integrations so that there will be a single user interface, single presence, etc. NewVoiceMedia will continue to sell its service on a standalone basis for businesses that already have a VoIP or UCaaS provider.
Vonage has done many acquisitions over the past few years and has learned from its experiences. Wyatt stated that the need to have similar cultures is key, and both Vonage and NewVoiceMedia put the customer in the center of everything. He explained, “We’re here to serve the customer. NewVoiceMedia has the same guiding principles. It’s about making the customer experience better.”
It’s clear that the lines between unified communications and contact center are blurring, and companies like Vonage need to have a tightly integrated UCaaS and CCaaS offering. It will be interesting to see how Vonage leverages Nexmo and its communications platform as a service (CPaaS) capabilities to add value to its new contact center offering, as this can help the company truly differentiate itself. Vonage has grown from a consumer VoIP provider to a leading business UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS player. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next.