Five Key Trends To Watch In Unified Communications

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1. ROI is still king!
Despite modest economic improvement, IT budgets remain flat. Nearly 80% of companies still report flat or falling budgets for 2010, a slight improvement from 2009, but still evidence that for the foreseeable future IT purse strings will remain tightly clenched. As a result, IT leaders are rethinking their voice and UC deployment plans. Those technologies with demonstrable cost savings such as SIP trunking (96% are deploying, planning to deploy, or evaluating SIP trunking) continue to gain buyers’ eyes. Meanwhile, replacement of TDM endpoints with IP has slowed as IT managers struggle with the costs associated with infrastructure upgrades coupled with concerns around spending on desktop devices when workers are increasingly mobile or telecommuting.

UC adoptions continue to increase, with nearly 88% of companies having at least some UC plan. Though here again deployments are driven by business value. Delivering on-premise web conferencing as part of a Microsoft Office Communications Server installation is gaining traction; while adding click-to-call or desktop video to supplement voice is more difficult to justify. Video deployments continue to increase, but usually require some business case, such as replacing ISDN systems with IP, or using video to reduce travel.

2. Mobility, Mobility, Mobility!
One area where companies continue to increase spending is mobility, with nearly half of participants saying that they will increase mobility spending in 2011. Mobile spending is driven by a desire to improve the capabilities of mobile workers, leverage new mobile technologies such as two-way video and location awareness, and incorporate mobile devices into enterprise UC systems, in some cases eliminating the need for a dedicated desktop device. The rise of the iPhone continues to impact mobility spending, as more than half of participants that provide mobile devices support iPhone, despite concerns over manageability and security.

3. Social is Growing
Interest in, and adoption of, social computing as part of an enterprise collaboration and communications strategy is rapidly growing thanks to the success of public services such as Twitter and Facebook. Organizations are struggling with the need to allow innovation while meeting requirements for compliance and governance. And, they are struggling with disparate deployments of disjointed systems, often at the business unit level. Thanks to increasing integration between UC and social platforms (e.g. Cisco Quad, Microsoft SharePoint, Jive SBS, and IBM Lotus Connections) the trend is clearly toward tying social computing planning into UC architectures.

4. UC is entering the Contact Center
Just 14% of companies say they have no plans for UC in the contact center. UC in the contact center is one of the easiest areas in which to create a business case as providing front-line agents with access to subject matter experts can increase first-call resolution, a measurable metric for evaluating contact center success. Reducing call close times leads to more efficient use of call center resources, and thus lowers operating costs.

5. UC, Meet VDI Virtual desktops are on the road map for almost 74% of participants, meaning that UC planners must prepare for the eventuality of thin-client interfaces for most business applications. VDI creates problems for real-time applications that require local encoding and encapsulation of voice and video streams. Some solutions exist for voice, but we've yet to see a good method of supporting desktop video in a VDI environment. Here lies an opportunity for system vendors to deliver the capability for localized encapsulation of video in support of a virtualized desktop solution.

Comments (1)

  1. Phil Johnson says:

    These may be trends but I still struggle in how they relate to business benefit and a more productive workforce?

    If I look at many UC solutions today they are difficult for the end user to configure, difficult to manage, and disperate. A poor user expirience becomes a barrier to adoption.  Its all well and good being mobile- but if an end user has to call up a VPN session to use a PC to communicate aren't they just going to reach for a mobile phone?

    Who in this industry is really focussed on looking at the requirements of the end user? I see upteen end clients- rediculous choice of phones, soft clients and web pages to configure…

    – disclosure: I am a Cisco customer. I have to configure my speed dials from a web page, my forwarding from a web page, my meetings are difficult to schedule.

    This is not unified- its disjointed, unproductive and frustrating!

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