Open Mic: The Future of Unified Communications

The market prepares for new growth as survey shows businesses are budgeting for unified communication upgrades

As the workforce becomes more mobile, businesses need technological solutions to handle the shift. Unified communications (UC) has an important role in the future roadmap of business as long as it evolves in kind. UC needs to make sure it provides the flexibility needed as employees take their work with them where they go.

The shift to the mobile and remote workplace is becoming more and more popular. Businesses today often have employees working on different devices in different geographic locations. Businesses see the value in this new work structure and are increasingly turning to UC solutions to handle the load. A survey conducted by the market research firm Ovum revealed that approximately 80 percent of organization executives heads indicated their plans to move forward with UC implementation solutions in their business processes strategies. To back that finding up, the survey also showed 78 percent of department heads claimed to actually have appointed a budget for UC. This is significant because it indicates a positive move towards using the technology as a here-and-now solution instead of placing it as an agenda on a to-do list.

As mentioned above, workplace mobility is the driving force behind the popularity and evolution of UC technology. More and more people are breaking free of the cubicles and taking advantage of a more flexible work atmosphere. Companies are supporting this increased mobility in their business models. This has triggered new trends in work culture and BYOD (bring your own device) is one of the most popular. Employees are feeling empowered by the growing number of mobile devices they can bring to work. Vendors need to cater to this empowerment by designing customizations to support UC. The need for employees to quickly and more effectively communicate with coworkers and customers no matter where they are located is growing. This is no longer a wish-list agenda, but a critical business necessity. UC solutions must deliver this crucial, competitive advantage to all businesses.

Despite the need for organizations to find new ways to cater to its BYOD workforce, the Ovum survey showed a substantial percentage (between 21 and 36 percent) of UC solutions are premise-based. These managed models move in tandem with the other UC deployment that is growing in popularity— the cloud-based model. With employees on the go, cloud-based solutions provide users with the flexibility needed to manage their settings and preferences from anywhere and on any device. As more employees and customers demand ‘round-the-clock’ availability, UC is turning to the Cloud to fulfill this demand.

With UC being deployed through the Cloud, perspectives are changing. Rather than viewed as an expensive tool, it is now viewed as an outsourced service. This helps to make adoption easier, bringing in changes in payment modes as well. The market value of unified communications is predicted to grow to $38 billion in 2016. However, organizations are still hesitant to explore its full potential. The increase in the remote and BYOD workplace is giving UC providers a wealth of concerns to address in order for the solution to be fully realized. The demand is growing for vendors to make UC solutions that are interoperable among devices and can be customized by the user. Both businesses and their employees require more flexibility with UC solution tools than ever before.

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