In the past several years, businesses from a wide range of industries, as well as public sector agencies, have pursued massive overhauls of existing technologies in hopes of modernizing their operational environments. Cloud computing has played a major role in the transformation of IT frameworks, while unified communications has accelerated in the market as well, with Voice over Internet Protocol business phone systems, video conferencing and instant messaging tools becoming ubiquitous in the public and private sectors.
Because of how quickly demand has increased and diversified, the options available to the average small and medium-sized business are vast, with many analysts calling this a buyer's market in its current iteration and entrepreneurs selecting services that most closely align with their needs and objectives. Studies have shown that unified communications will continue to be an explosive area of the IT world as more organizations work to implement these solutions and diversify their technological capabilities.
At the end of the day, most companies will choose to overhaul their communications frameworks with the purpose of reducing the amount of budget that must be allocated to these areas annually, while simultaneously bolstering collaboration capabilities among employees and clientele. In an increasingly globalized market, the ability to walk this line is crucial in terms of maintaining a competitive advantage and level of relevance in a constantly evolving landscape.
Business leaders should keep a close eye on the UC market to ensure that they are taking all of the necessary steps toward optimal communications and technological environments, especially as every industry continues to become more reliant upon these frameworks for everyday functions. Trends move quickly in this area, driven by the demands of an increasingly savvy workforce and consumer base that is more interested in gadgets and advanced communications than ever before.
No Jitter recently listed some of the more important shifting trends that are taking place in the UC market, asserting that one of the first and foremost priorities is to create the most user-friendly experience for a wide-range of workforce members. Intuitive solutions have shown to be far more effective in the average business, and this has been evidenced by the successes of user-friendly equipment and the failures of those that are overly complex.
According to the news provider, simplicity has been cited by many vendors as the top focus of new and forthcoming items in their product lines, while the contextual matters related to UC are also moving into a more prominent role in innovation strategies. This is to say that the integration of various communication platforms and solutions to ensure a holistic view and easy-to-handle management structure is created at the outset of deployments.
"More recently, the focus has shifted to the end-user experience, including ease of use, as well as the business value of UC," the source explained. "There's a growing realization that the user experience must be intuitive, relevant to the user's work and tools, and competitive with the experiences delivered by consumer devices and apps. It's no longer about getting the 'latest and greatest' - it's delivering intuitive and contextual UC solutions, and the business results that are achieved by simplifying collaboration and meetings and enhancing the mobile experience."
As mentioned, mobility has had a massive impact on the UC market, with companies looking for solutions that will simultaneously improve the experience of users at their desks and those who are operating remotely. This unification of operational management from the communications and technology standpoint has been a profoundly positive changing of the guard in the private sector, and will likely continue to intensify through the end of the decade.
Finally, No Jitter noted that the size of companies that are being targeted by new solutions is getting smaller, with vendors no longer as interested in large enterprises and more SMB-specific options available.
Is cloud-based UC best?
One of the other trends that has been of note in the past several years is the split between cloud-based UC and those solutions that are still rooted in traditional IT arrangements, such as legacy systems. The Wilmington Business Journal recently suggested several advantages that come with cloud services and are not as common when using other types of UC solutions.
According to the source, cloud-based UC is generally more affordable, flexible and scalable, which can be especially advantageous for a younger company that is just beginning to expand its technological and communications infrastructure. This approach tends to yield the most positive experiences with spend management and budgeting.
The news provider went on to state that cloud-based UC is superior to other options in several operational management arenas as well, including the enablement of mobility, the buffering of disaster recovery strategies and, maybe most importantly, the uniformity of systems.
Interoperability and compatibility are critical aspects of the relationship between UC and IT, and cloud-based solutions will generally come with stronger outcomes in this area.