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April 23, 2015

5 innovative unified communications providers

What are AT&T, Salesforce, Blue Jeans, Plantronics and Voxbone are doing in the space.

By Alexander Sword

Talk to many unified communications operators and they will tell you that the concept has existed for many years. Recently, however, the sector is gaining momentum, and we may see more and more focus on it in coming years. Here are some of the current innovators in the market that CBR met at UC EXPO.


The American telecoms carrier released a product called AT&T UC Federation in February. The thinking is that different organisations will have different unified communications solutions in place, and hence will find it difficult to collaborate. UC Federation supports a range of different UC platforms, including Microsoft Lync and Cisco Jabber, allowing users to instant message and view the online presence of other users as though they were on the same platform.


Sometimes innovation means using an old idea in a new way. Salesforce’s ‘Chatter’ solution, used by Coca-Cola and the Financial Times, mimics the look and feel of Facebook to give users an experience similar to the consumer world. Chatter helps employees see everything that is going on in their organisation and share information with colleagues from other departments and Salesforce claims that this also builds a better social culture within the enterprise.

Blue Jeans

Blue Jeans’s main innovation is its "PrimeTime" product, which adds a new level of interactivity to video conferencing on a range of devices. Organisations bringing together large numbers of people on a call face a problem. When there are too many people to comfortably feature on a screen, the usual solution involves turning the call into a webcast featuring the primary participants, but this removes the interactive element for others. PrimeTime allows the creator and moderator of the call to individually select which participant will appear onscreen at a particular time.


Everyone knows what Neil Armstrong’s first words were as he stepped onto the surface of the moon in 1969, but fewer are probably aware of the device he said them into. The headset was designed by Plantronics, which claims to have been in the UC business for over 50 years. Plantronics remains an innovator, but the primary innovation is in its focus. The company emphasises user experience above all else, taking into account ergonomics, convenience and intuitiveness in the design of its earpieces, which allow users to be contacted on all their devices through one piece of hardware. They also incorporate motion sensors which can sense whether the device is idle or being used.


Voxbone provides virtual local phone numbers. These enable organisations to extend the reach of their voice networks to over 55 countries and 8000 cities. The company claims to be the only operator of its kind with its own number ranges, telecoms licenses and global private Voice Over IP backbone. The company’s approach has won it a high-profile roster of customers, including Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, Orange Business Services, NTT Communications and Skype.

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