Will Companies By-Pass UC?
The need for a UC client on the PC desktop will decrease, since fewer employees will use a PC on a regular basis, if at all. And UC clients on a desk phone will all but disappear.
Recently, Frost & Sullivan released our latest research on the unified communications market. One of the more interesting findings was that, although we expect the UC market to show double-digit growth over the next five years, the number of UC clients expected to ship by 2016 is only around 30 million. That's 20 million fewer than we thought would ship in earlier studies of the market, and it represents less than 10 percent of the total number of office workers worldwide.
There are a couple of explanations for the new findings. The economy, of course, put a damper on buying over the past several years, so the market saw relatively slow growth between the time true UC clients were made available, around 2007, and present day. But that will have a negative impact on the long-term market, too: By the time many companies will be ready to spend on UC, they may also be ready to leap-frog the technology altogether in favor of mobile clients that deliver many of the same capabilities, but in different ways.
Consider the fact that when we recently surveyed more than 200 C-level executives about their use of enterprise communications technology, we learned that mobile devices are a primary communications endpoint in 68 percent of organizations. Furthermore, our research shows that almost 10 percent of tablets purchased today are used for business purposes; we expect that to reach about 70 percent by 2016--and by then, desktop phones will go from representing 37 percent of the enterprise endpoint market to only 20 percent.
What does this mean for UC? Well, that depends on how you define the term. Certainly, mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets will continue to run applications, including soft phone clients, that will support enterprise communications in ever more advanced and, presumably, cost-effective ways. But the need for a UC client like Lync or Sametime on the PC desktop will decrease, since fewer employees will use a PC on a regular basis, if at all. And UC clients on a desk phone will all but disappear.