The crisp tinge of autumn might be in the air, but one technology area that is unquestionably still heating up is the unified communications (UC) sector. In fact, as put by Infonetics Research’s Principal Analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS Diane Myers, “Unified communications is still on fire.”
Infonetics’ report, titled “Enterprise Unified Communications and Voice Equipment,” revealed that this year’s second-quarter worldwide revenue for UC soared to 34 percent, compared to the year-ago quarter. In addition, the report predicts that by the end of 2013, the UC application segment will increase by over 21 percent, while the enterprise PBX market will drop by 2.6 percent. Moreover, the international market research and consulting firm contended last year that a cumulative $377 billion will be spent on business and residential/SOHO VoIP services over the five years from 2012 to 2016, driven primarily by a demand for SIP truking and hosted VoIP/UC services.
With the proliferation of the statistics above, it begs the question: have we even scratched the surface of UC ubiquity? Let’s take a look at the top three factors driving widespread UC adoption.
1. The Desire for Richer Features
Simply put, the tools of yesterday’s business don’t cut it in today’s increasingly connected and technology-dependent world. Twenty-first century companies need a wealth of collaboration and communication tools designed to break down geographic disparities and enable them to compete more aggressively in the marketplace. And unified communications is often the first place they turn.
A robust UC solution equips businesses with a multitude of first-grade enterprise capabilities from Web conferencing with file and application sharing capabilities to voicemail-to-email capabilities to rich presence. Further, businesses can experience the convergence of their real-time communication services—like instant messaging, telephony, and wholesale voice services—with non-real time communication—such as unified messaging, including e-mail, SMS, and fax. These richer features are ultimately what make the difference in securing business’ longevity, increasing productivity and heightening satisfaction.
2. The Need to Support a Mobile Workforce
The fact is that today’s businesses—from the largest of enterprises to the smallest of startups—operate in an increasingly mobile and geographically distributed workforce, with one in five Americans currently working from home. That number is expected to increase by 63 percent in the next five years, according to a Telework Research Network study. With a new type of workforce to support, companies are forced to look for avant-garde solutions that bridge the gap between their in-house and off-site teams, and UC is a major enabler of the work from home movement. By choosing a comprehensive UC suite, companies can simulate the office environment for remote workers, granting employees the tools and solutions needed to communicate with colleagues and key stakeholders as if they were just across the cubicle.
3. The Want for Centralized Management
Nowadays, businesses have a variety of services to sift through—from video to voice to data. Having all three in one cohesive communication system, however, not only allows companies to make decisions more quickly—since all of their critical information resides in one central portal—but also frees up employees to focus on more pressing matters, as opposed to being tied up with administrative functions.
Bottom line: UC allows companies to centralize the management of all their communications and collaboration services, allowing for uninterrupted business continuity and enhanced productivity.