The integration of your communication and collaboration solutions into a unified platform represents another level of digital disruption that is transforming the communications industry. The cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) evolution encompasses applications, hosting technologies and real-time communication and collaboration services including voice, chat, presence, content sharing, web and video conferencing, mobile applications and more. And this is not a slow evolution; the change is happening rapidly and the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) industry is accelerating fast with total UCaaS market growth at 16% per annum.
In terms of UCaaS market share, standalone apps and business suites account for 67% and 33% of the market respectively but, while the latter is growing at 23% annually, there is only 13% growth in the standalone apps market, suggesting that customers are increasingly moving towards business suites of UCaaS offerings and that this is where future growth will come from.
A key driver for growth in UCaaS uptake is that it has clear benefits for businesses of every size, in every industry. Unified Communications provide- high levels of availability, flexibility and scalability for businesses of all sizes and is no longer seen as a solution only suitable for SMBs. This is because UCaaS can lessen the burden on corporate IT capex investment by putting tools in the cloud without sacrificing features or functionality. And for those enterprises that are still tied to an on premise investment, hybrid options allow organisations to use UCaaS solutions while keeping a portion of their UC on their own premises and other applications in the cloud. This removes the need for costly and time-intensive overhaul of existing infrastructure.
As more organisations deploy UCaaS, there is a clear focus on mobile-first initiatives. Application programme interface (API) connectivity to apps in the cloud, along with plug-ins and integrations for other apps such as CRM, is increasing the usefulness, applicability and value that UCaaS provides. In addition, the user experience continues to improve and offers greater support for mobile usage, which feeds into end-user desires for more control over their entire UC solution.
Today’s UC customers want the flexibility to make changes on the fly without having to place a service order or involve others. Interoperability is also becoming a focus because it allows customers to make smarter, more scalable UC investments while eliminating the burden of managing multiple communications silos.
There is also a growing confidence that cloud-based systems can offer organisations a secure platform. Most organisations now recognise that systems hosted in the cloud are less vulnerable to local disasters, thefts and hacks, but many do not realise that calls and messages should be encrypted when carried over the internet.
The benefits and efficiencies UCaaS are becoming increasingly well understood as end-user organisations recognise the advantages of shifting to a service model that eliminates upfront capex and enables them to provide UC services to their users purely as an operational expense (opex). The flexibility of the as-a-service model means organisations can grow their UC footprint as user demand increases without having to invest in equipment that is, initially at least, under-utilised. Moving to an opex model means costs scale in line with service usage and organisations do not face the challenges of having to invest in and maintain costly hardware.
The customer experience can also be enhanced with UCaaS because the support and quality assurance are all handled by the service provider, taking the burden away from internal IT and comms support resources. This enables the total cost of ownership (TCO) to be lowered further as technology moves from being hosted in-house to being hosted in the cloud.
In addition, UCaaS means that organisations’ UC solutions can be upgraded regularly by the service provider without the organisation having to decide when and how to upgrade. This ensures the latest functionality is made rapidly available to users with optimised call flow and routing performed by the service provider.
This flexibility as attractive new functionality is coming to the UC market. Applications such as mobile high definition voice audio conferencing, for example, provide a real opportunity for carriers to differentiate the user experience they offer by providing flawless calls from anywhere. For customers, this is also valuable because it sets them apart from users that might utilise standard voice conferencing or even offerings from best effort web service providers.
Ensuring essential bandwidth for this and other collaboration-enabling services is a vital part of ensuring service quality. The management capability UCaaS includes means that bandwidth speeds and capacity can be adapted to suit business needs. This is an important value-add that would be extremely challenging for an enterprise to manage itself because of the need for regular interactions with carriers.
With 61% of workers now working outside the office for at least some of the time and with more than three devices used daily for work activities by employees, it’s clear that the future is mobile. Therefore mobility will be a deciding factor for organisations looking to purchase a UC solution. Such a solution needs to be mobile without sacrificing the quality of the user experience to assure the quality of the connections across multiple networks, ensuring that service providers can deliver rich, high-quality UC experiences as a service.
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
This article forms part of the Collaboration Center by PGi. Total Telecom has partnered with PGi to provide insights into the transformation of the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) market. The article is written by Total Telecom for PGi and does not necessarily reflect the views of Total Telecom. For more articles from the Collaboration Center CLICK HERE