Mobility Trends are Driving the Direction of the UC Market
Unified Communications (UC) and VoIP have become strongly intertwined and evolving network infrastructure and a push toward mobility are fueling market growth. Subscribers and business users are demanding the freedom and flexibility of BYOD and yet they also want all the features and functionality of legacy UC systems.
The result of this demand is massive growth, with Transparency Market Research forecasting the UC market is set to reach $62 billion by 2018, growing at an average of close to 16 percent per year. Technavio puts the market for global VoIP services at $86 billion by 2020, with revenues doubling from $43 billion in 2012. What’s clear is that corporate consumers are willing to spend money on VoIP and UC solutions that meet their demands, and those demands include support for mobility and BYOD.
Network infrastructure plays a major role in the VoIP-based UC market, with a steady transition from circuit-switched to packet-switched networks happening globally. In tandem with this transition, service providers are taking advantage of a growing number of mobile subscribers to push 3G and 4G applications and services. eMarketer predicts the number of global smartphone users is set to pass two billion by 2016, with a full one-quarter of the global population using smartphones this year. That number will reach one-third by 2018, proving that mobility is driving the game.
And that means that VoIP-based UC solutions are evolving to meet the demands of the growing mobile market. Microsoft’s rebranding of its legacy Lync UC offering to become Skype for Business is a prime example of the shift toward mobility. Skype has an entrenched consumer user base while Lync has the power of Microsoft’s Office 365 subscriber base and years of VoIP integration to its credit. Merging these two solutions has the potential to create a powerhouse UC offering robust enough to meet the mobility demands of the enterprise market.
Polycom became the first company to introduce hardware for Skype for Business last month with its new Roundtable offering. Not surprisingly, one of the key benefits of the new solution is support for enterprise mobility. Roundtable is geared toward SMEs with the goal of letting users set up conference calls within minutes, no matter where they happen to be located.
“The unit is designed to be very sleek to look at but also easy to use so you don’t need any IT Infrastructure or training to use it, you can just plug it in and get going wherever you are,” said Charles James, Microsoft alliance director Europe for Polycom.
As Skype for Business takes off and gains a larger user base, we can expect to see more hardware solutions come to market. And those offerings will undoubtedly cater to the demands of enterprise mobility as it continues to drive the UC space.
Edited by Maurice Nagle