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Slack's growth strategy faces the hurdle of paid users

In this roundup of UC blogs, analysts discuss challenges to Slack's growth, enhancements to Avaya Spaces video and the drivers for UCC vendor consolidation.

Slack has made significant gains in transforming from a small internal communications tool to a leading collaboration platform with more than 12 million daily active users. Despite the success of Slack's growth strategy, the company still faces the hurdle of converting its free users to paid plans, GlobalData analyst Gregg Willsky wrote in a blog.

Major enhancements to Slack include API integrations, security improvements and acquisitions, such as Rimeto for business directory capabilities. But the majority of Slack's customers -- an estimated 83% -- use the vendor's free plan, Willsky wrote.

Most vendors in a situation like Slack's would try to convert customers by paring down the features in their free plan to push customers toward an upgrade. But the opposite approach for Slack's growth strategy is probably best.

"Rather than punish customers, reward them, while simultaneously enticing them with the potential for greater benefits," Willsky wrote.

Slack should take a "good, better, best approach" to its plans, he added. A free, feature-rich plan with some modest improvements offered alongside paid plans that receive more enhancements would entice paying customers and place Slack on a more stable path, he wrote.

Read more about the steps Slack has taken to improve its service.

Avaya-Nvidia partnership enhances video

With video conferencing usage skyrocketing, Avaya has been improving the video quality of its Avaya Spaces conferencing and team messaging app. Its latest enhancement is through a partnership with Nvidia, a GPU manufacturer, to bring AI capabilities to Spaces. Aragon Research analyst Jim Lundy wrote about his firsthand experience with the enhancements in a blog.

The partnership uses Nvidia Maxine, a platform SDK to build video conferencing and AI features. Lundy wrote that, during a Spaces meeting, he noticed smooth video with high-quality visuals.

Avaya Spaces uses a different compression technique that is smoother than H.264, which most video vendors use for compression. Nvidia Maxine compresses video automatically by recognizing a person's outline in a meeting and then renders and compresses it for easier transmission. The service can also extrapolate the outline to a higher resolution on the fly, Lundy wrote.

The compression can also reduce bandwidth consumption, which could encourage using more high-definition and 4K video in the enterprise, he wrote.

Read more about why Lundy said the partnership puts Avaya Spaces enhancements ahead of other unified communications and collaboration (UCC) providers.

Consolidating UC vendors offers business benefits

As organizations transform their UCC strategy amid COVID-19, they are also shifting their vendor strategies to consolidate services to a single provider. As they consolidate, they are also evaluating and migrating to cloud services, Nemertes Research analyst Robin Gareiss wrote in a blog.

Nearly one-quarter of companies have already consolidated to a single provider, she wrote. Around 29% plan to consolidate by the end of 2020, and another 23% plan to by 2021.

Consolidating UCC services to a single provider offers organizations several benefits, including the following:

  • saving money on bundled licenses;
  • a consistent UI across apps;
  • improved integrations among UCC apps; and
  • IT only needs to learn and manage one vendor's products.

But moving to a single provider is easier said than done. Mergers and acquisitions can bring in new technology providers, or an existing app may be crucial to a department, Gareiss wrote. In those scenarios, organizations should select a primary provider that handles most UCC needs and enable IT to buy one-off products to fit a specific need or requested feature.

Learn more about the business metrics that organizations should measure when consolidating UCC providers.

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