The value proposition of unified communications (UC) is its ability to improve organization-wide communications and collaboration. It does this by integrating a company’s existing communications applications on one platform, connecting employees, and optimizing operational agility. Stand-alone communication apps, on the other hand, duplicate employee efforts and waste time.
Benefits gained by UC adopters are improved processes, reduced operational costs, better efficiency and increased productivity. These advances have spurred companies to invest in UC. Consider that worldwide UC market revenues were just $2.7 billion in 2011, vastly increased to $34.8 billion in 2015, and are anticipated to skyrocket to $143.49 billion by 2024, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc.
From then to now:
Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of old analog and digital business telephone systems like private branch exchanges (PBXs) and piggybacking on the new Internet Protocol (IP), UC evolved from the emergence in the 1990s of unified voice and email systems. Cellphones also drove UC forward, encouraging integration of communication apps like “Find Me - Follow Me” and speech-controlled interfaces.
Before long, computer telephony integration techniques brought call control to PC screens, turning PCs into softphone clients, and IP telephony was born. As IP telephony start-ups proliferated, many were acquired by telcommunications businesses, like Cisco, 3Com, and Nortel. The outcome was combined unified messaging, mobility, desktop and speech experiences that became their own unified experience—or UC.
Uptake of the new unified solutions was slow as companies rued writing off existing investments in PBX, voicemail, and email systems. Around 2003-2004, however, UC expanded into instant messaging and presence for collaboration. The popularity of these features, which grew to include “click to” functions, helped UC become a major product on the worldwide market.
Current UC state of affairs:
Global Market Insights reports that U.S. demand for UC accounted for more than 35 percent of the global revenue generation in 2015, with Asia following at 25 percent, per the Grand View report. Moving forward, the Asia Pacific UC market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15 percent from 2016 to 2023. The large Asia Pacific population base and the advent and popularity of high-speed data networks in India and China will fuel this growth, according to the report.
Growth prospects for the global UC market are further based on the large swath of organizations expanding internationally. This is increasing their need for real-time and efficient communications systems that enhance interactions and exchanges of information.
Technology developments are also driving the market to new heights. The growth of mobility and the mobile workforce is a significant contributing factor. It has inspired the creation of new communication technologies and the advanced use of UC technologies such as audio and video conferencing.
Use the following list of trends driving huge UC market growth to inform your UC decision making:
- Virtual workforce: People working remotely need to collaborate efficiently with their colleagues, meaning they need to be provided with UC tools like videoconferencing to succeed.
- Mobility: Taking care of work from wherever is boosting employee productivity, and businesses are getting onboard with UC tools like presence and IM to support the move.
- Consumerization of IT: The blending of personal and business use of technology devices and applications is key to UC growth. Now that new technologies are likely to flow from the consumer to businesses (vs. the opposite—and traditional—method), IT departments must provide unified management of communications.
- The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon: Employees are increasingly accessing company networks through their own devices, and they need corporate UC tools extended to their smartphones and tablets to get their jobs done.
Keep these trends in mind when assessing vendors to support your business’s communications solutions. Make sure to vet companies, like Star2Star, that are telephony-based and geared toward mobility with a collaboration emphasis.