Unified communications technologies have come a long way since the turn of the century, as companies are now dependent upon a wide range of advanced services and solutions to connect their employees to one another. Thanks to cloud computing, UC has taken yet another leap in the right direction, allowing businesses of all sizes to realize optimal communication performance, reliability across systems and stronger user experience through a wider range of devices.
Globally, Transparency Market Research forecast the UC-as-a-Service market to grow quickly in the coming years, with many organizations beginning to only use cloud-based communications and IT solutions for these needs. The analysts affirmed that the total market size will reach $61.9 billion in annual expenditures by 2018, and that cloud solutions will likely be king in the transformations that take place in the next few years. As a note, the researchers also pointed out that mobility will be the most important trend to watch in UC for the foreseeable future.
Small-business owners were once incapable of footing the bills of traditional legacy-based communications technology, as the upfront costs of such deployments were only feasible for larger, more established enterprises. However, cloud-based UC has made that problem a moot point. Entrepreneurs can identify more affordable and easily deployed options today thanks to the growth of cloud-based UC services, which has intensified in the past decade.
If you want a quick rundown of the market's current shape and size, check out this quick video from Research Beam that reveals a few of the more important characteristics involved:
Looking ahead, many of the same trends that have shaped the UC industry for more than a decade will continue to intensify, while other, newer movements such as the growth of performance analytics popularity and the Internet of Things will also come with major implications. Small-business owners who keep up with UC transformation will be in a better position to excel in the coming years, as collaboration technologies are becoming more powerful with the passing of every day.
Cloud's growing footprint
Apps Tech News recently broke down some of the findings revealed in a new study from The Redshift Research and a communications service provider, including the fact that the market share of cloud UC is rising extremely quickly. According to the news provider, cloud-based UC took up about 5 percent of the UC market this year, but that rate will see a 466 percent increase to 28 percent by the end of 2016.
This is consistent with other research that has shown just how quickly legacy-based UC and other traditional systems are fading out, and the speed with which companies are migrating these assets into cloud-based environments. The reasons for doing so are vast, including better agility, stronger cost-efficiency and more diverse user enablement capabilities, and chances are that the vast majority of systems will be hosted in these environments within the next 10 years.
The study revealed that on-site deployments are expected likely to drop by more than 33 percent in the next year, the source noted, and this will certainly reshape the market at large. Interestingly, Apps Tech News also cited a comment from Rufus Grig who was involved in the report regarding the transformation of mobility, and perhaps demise of BYOD in certain regions.
"It is clear that there is very little support from employees for BYOD, and not much more from CIOs. In three years it has gone from 'next big thing' to a minority preoccupation, with both employees and business preferring company-provided devices," Grig told the news provider. "We suspect that among the many reasons for this, employees wanting to focus on work-life balance and increasing allegiance to specific smartphone brands coupled with enterprise CIOs' frustrations with the drain on their IT team's time and the cost of supporting multiple platforms means that BYOD will become a marginal operating model for mobile devices in the enterprise."
Remember, mobility is perhaps the most important aspect of modern communications management, and businesses are increasingly making UC assets available through these operating systems. Integration of mobility into standing UC frameworks can be streamlined and expedited through the use of cloud-based services.
Cloud Computing Intelligence also reported on the study, and cited findings regarding the biggest priorities for leaders who are expanding out their UC strategies. Social networking, instant messaging and phone-based services are rising, though Web-based video conferencing software and meeting room-UC integration appear near the top of the list.
"UC services are becoming more available through mobile devices."
The corporate culture impact
ITProPortal argued that the mobilization of UC systems and services has had a relatively massive impact on the culture of small and medium-sized businesses. It is worth noting that enabling access to video conferencing, Voice over Internet Protocol and instant messaging services through mobile devices and apps is still a new trend, but one that smaller firms appear to be jumping on the most quickly.
The source cited a Wainhouse study that revealed more than 67 percent of companies have already allowed their employees to use smartphones for video conferences, and the rate of those enabling instant messaging is likely even higher. Again, this would be far more difficult and sometimes impossible without modernized backend UC management systems and infrastructure.
One of the more prominent difficulties seen with traditional approaches to UC hosting and management was the sheer expense of making the assets available to users who were not working in the physical workplace. Small-business owners can avoid this problem and maximize the value of UC in their organizations by leveraging cloud-based services from a reliable provider that specializes in entrepreneurial requirements and needs.
Looking ahead, UC and IT are set to continue rapid convergence, and it is important for all leaders to proactively manage the migration and transformation processes involved. When in doubt, managed services can be invaluable to ensure that all of the moving parts are being handled properly by individuals with experience and expertise in the matters.