Unified Communications Featured Article

UC Market Features Cisco in the Lead

April 03, 2017

A new report from the Synergy Research Group offered up the most up-to-date picture on the unified communications (UC) market so far. The news was excellent for Cisco, which was top of the heap by healthy margins on two major points, and was rapidly gaining on leader Microsoft in one other market. There were clear challenges being expressed, though, so changes may well arrive with the most recent data.

The Synergy study looked at the UC market from the fourth quarter of 2016, and found that Cisco was still a market leader, showing the third consecutive quarter of growth and ultimately clearing the 15 percent mark in terms of straight market share. It wasn't alone in gains, however, as Microsoft gained sufficiently to be around the 12.5 percent mark, still well behind Cisco but making a challenge clear. Meanwhile, slugging it out for third place overall is Avaya and IBM, as IBM put up a major fourth quarter advance, but Avaya held a sufficient lead from the preceding three quarters to give it the edge overall on the year.

Cisco took the big lead in UC thanks to one major growth spurt in premise-based solutions, in which it edged out nearest competitor Microsoft by nearly 10 percentage points. It also held a much narrower lead in the total collaboration market, beating out Microsoft by less than 3 percent, and beating third-place competitor IBM by just over 10 percent. Cisco, however, proved second to Microsoft in the hosted cloud market segment, beating IBM in third place.

Several new technologies also stepped in to provide destabilizing elements and disruption opportunity to the field. One of the biggest such efforts was teamwork applications, an emerging field bringing rapid growth with it that seeks to better connect individuals within a firm. Cisco is leading the way in this growing market with its Spark application, though vendors like Slack aren't far behind.

Based on what we know, the UC market is a tossup market in every sense. Cisco is clearly ahead, thanks to its big win in premise-based systems, but with more companies turning to cloud-based systems, Microsoft's edge may well carry it forward. Still, Cisco's edge in the total collaboration market will serve it well going forward, and if either of the two frontrunners loses market share—and not to each other—one of the other three major firms may step up.

It's an exciting field to watch, and UC customers will benefit as each of the majors—as well as any unforeseen dark horse candidates—try their best to seize market share.

Edited by Alicia Young

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