Unified Communications Featured Article

UC Market to Grow to $4.2B by 2014: Study


November 25, 2009

In a bright spot in a dim economy demand for unified communications, merging IP telephony, conferencing and collaboration, messaging and other forms of integrated information exchange, is rising quickly. A new ABI Research study predicts that the UC market will expand rapidly to nearly $4.2 billion in 2014 from the market’s size was just $302 million in 2008.

 
The drivers are sectors such as healthcare and hospitality, and functions such as customer care, sales, and support where there is clear ROI, reports ABI Research practice director Stan Schatt.
 
With UC medical professionals eschew carrying and time-wasting switching between costly multiple devices. Presence tools can connect engineers onto support calls, thereby avoiding expensive and customer-annoying escalations and multiple contacts. By getting everyone literally on the same page presence also shortens sales cycles, resulting in greater revenue in shorter periods of time.
 
Yet in a lesson seemingly learned from CRM where complex massive installs led to many months before the benefits were realized, with ‘shelfware’ i.e. unused components taking up server space, firms are buying UC solutions piecemeal rather than large packages.
 
 “Companies have been buying only those component technologies that they think will deliver immediate value,” says Schatt. “It’s only later that they start tying it all together as true Unified Communications. Once that happens, synergies multiply. For example, many companies have messaging by voice and e-mail, but when they are integrated, a user can “see” voicemails and have e-mails read aloud. Such synergies can deliver increased productivity and efficiency, and greater customer satisfaction.”
 
Despite the large potential, UC vendors won’t find it all plain sailing. They are up against internal corporate “turf wars,” a widespread lack of understanding of the benefits UC can deliver and a high initial cost says the report.
 
Preventing the UC market from expanding more in this timeframe is that many vendors’ systems are not interoperable. There are still gaps where no standards exist. Even the largest vendors such as Cisco do not make everything, so there is a premium on partnerships. A few vendors will try to sell end-to-end solutions, but most others will attempt to integrate their offerings with the legacy components they find. Enterprises with multiple locations will benefit most immediately from UC as they may have the required integration expertise in-house, but others will not. That opens a tremendous opportunity in replacing older equipment and for consultants and systems integrators.
 
 “We foresee a booming market for managed services, simply because UC is tricky and many companies won’t want to spend the time and effort to do it themselves,” explains Schatt. “That applies to the market as a whole, but particularly to smaller businesses.”

Brendan B. Read is unified communications’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan




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