2018 was a year of strong growth in the global unified communications (UC) market, which is steadily expanding at a CAGR of 16.8 percent. UC is well out of its nascent stage and is now a household name among growth and productivity-minded business leaders who are looking for ways to improve their organizations.
At this point, UC is no longer a vague idea but a robust technology solution that is in strong demand from businesses of all sizes. UC helps onsite and distributed teams work together more closely and collaboratively, as it combines a variety of services into a single platform including voice, video, fax, presence, and more.
2018 Trends In The UC Space
It’s been a long year in the UC space, so let’s recap some of the biggest trends:
Mergers & Acquisitions
There were some notable mergers in this space this year. Cisco made headlines when the company took over BroadSoft, as did LogMeIn’s acquisition of Jive Communications, and Plantronics acquisition of Polycom rocked the boat for many telecom providers wondering how it would affect their inventories. More recently, Momentum Telecom acquired Phoenix-based CloudNet Group, yet another M&A to add to the growing list. These all came on the heels of other major game changers such as Mitel/ShoreTel and VMware/VeloCloud in 2017. Mergers and acquisitions have been noted with more frequency in the Unified Communications space, often indicating the quickly changing needs of the industry to incorporate more end-to-end technologies. For many industry leaders, this requires the acquisition of or partnership with other companies who complement their offerings.
Full Spectrum Communications
At Star2Star, the phenomenon of offering end-to-end communications solutions for a truly unified experience has been coined “Full Spectrum Communications”. A full spectrum approach enables businesses to provide any type of UC service within a single portfolio. This is further enhanced by the ability to develop or integrate unique solutions for the needs of a business. Full Spectrum Communications allows businesses to leverage even greater competitive advantage through communications that are customized to work with, not around, their operations.
Businesses are no longer interested in UC alone. Now, the focus is shifting to optimizing and improving communications and collaboration across the entire enterprise. As such, there was a tremendous uptick in software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), a technology that provides increased visibility and control across the network. Look for this trend to increase even further in 2019, as companies continue to layer bandwidth-intensive applications onto their networks.
Many businesses are now in the process of upgrading their underlying Wi-Fi connections, to improve critical services such as UC. Earlier this year, the Wi-Fi Alliance released its WPA3 standard for enhanced security. WPA3 certified routers are now being shipped. And next year, we will see the ratification of the IEEE’s 802.11ax standard, or Wi-Fi 6. It’s exciting to think about a future where UC can be supported by SD-WAN, over a more powerful network protected by superior WPA3 security.
As connectivity continues to get better, and companies discover ways to manage bandwidth more effectively, businesses will have an easier time leveraging resource-intensive services such as video conferencing. According to one study, the global video conferencing market will grow at a CAGR of 7.9 percent (2018-2026), reaching $10 billion. Video conferencing is widely used to reduce travel and expenses while improving teamwork and collaboration. Just about every enterprise today is using video in some form or another.
Business leaders are still on edge about cybersecurity, with the total cost of a successful cyber attack now hovering around $5 million. As such, many businesses are looking to layer security solutions on top of their UC offerings. Aggregators that can bring top-of-the-line security partnerships to the table stand a much better chance of securing contracts.