Excitement continues to grow around unified communications (UC), one of the most transformative business technologies to date.
UC makes it possible to consolidate disparate communications systems into one centralized, web-based platform. This allows global teams to connect and collaborate quickly, easily, and securely from any location. For this reason, it’s something that every business should be looking into in order to remain competitive.
How Big Is The UC Opportunity?
According to Grand View Research, UC will continue expanding at a CAGR of 16.8 percent through 2024, when it will reach $143.49 billion. The market is largely benefitting from improvements in the cloud, networking and artificial intelligence arenas. At the same time, many companies are engaging in digital transformation and using UC to improve agility and collaboration.
As the market continues to mature, though, different UC trends are developing at the small, medium, and large enterprise levels. Here is a breakdown of what has been taking place in the market recently:
Small businesses are especially vulnerable to threats like unplanned system downtime, poor quality data transfers, and high telecommunications costs. To mitigate risks, many small businesses are seeking fully managed, cloud-based communications services.
The SMB Group, for instance, recently named the cloud as “the platform for SMB digital transformation,” and found that 92 percent of SMBs are now using at least one cloud application. When UC apps live fully in the cloud, the technology is referred to UC as a service (UCaaS).
Small companies tend to have an easier time migrating to UCaaS as they typically lack massive legacy networks. Many startups are now leveraging UCaaS too, as it’s proven to be highly scalable and secure.
As consultant Dave Stein pointed out in a recent post, medium-sized organizations have the same need and desire for managed services that smaller organizations have. A growing number of medium-sized organizations, however, are now seeking cloud communications solutions that allow them to outsource select processes while retaining a certain amount of control over their infrastructure or data. In UC, a full spectrum approach can be achieved by keeping a PBX on premises and running applications through the cloud.
Mid-tier organizations that are considering taking this approach are strongly advised to think about whether extra control is necessary, or whether it will merely add extra complexity to the network. Certain environments can get by just fine operating fully in the cloud and are better off not having to worry about the additional hardware and maintenance that comes with a full spectrum setup. Locations dealing with large amounts of data or highly sensitive material, however, may benefit from this approach. It largely depends on how the network is being used.
At the large enterprise level, it becomes very challenging to deploy and manage communications services. This is because IT administrators must manage numerous networks over wide areas.
UCaaS is helping to streamline this process. In last year’s Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide, Gartner discovered that confidence is increasing in successful, large-scale UCaaS deployments. The study mentioned that UCaaS capabilities now exceed those in premises-based UC.
One reason why confidence is growing in UCaaS is that vendors are now starting to package their communications offerings with software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) services. With UCaaS and SD-WAN, businesses can gain access to hosted communications offerings along with the ability to establish intelligent traffic management policies across the WAN.