What's Hot in 2013?
Headsets and Lync: Hot. Desk phones and BYOD: Less so.
As the year comes to a close, we look to see what 2013 will bring. Trying to avoid the obvious--cloud, mobility, video--I've compiled my list of the not-as-obvious predictions for the coming year.
* Death of the Desk phone and the Rise of the Headset
No, Plantronics and Jabra didn't pay me to say this, but I truly believe that use of headsets (or as Plantronics calls them, "wearable devices") will become even more predominant as workers transition to softphones, tablets, and smart phones.
More and more customers claim that they will not purchase new desk phones, except for certain types of workers. An increasing number of workers will use tablets or smartphone devices when mobile, and compatible soft clients on their desktops. All of these interfaces require the use of quality, UC-enabled headsets. In fact, most of the resellers I've been speaking to as part of a UCStrategies UC Channel Study adamantly believe that a poor quality headset can ruin the entire UC experience and even doom future UC projects.
My prediction: Desk phones aren't going away, but will be slowly replaced by devices that require or are optimized by business-grade headsets.
* The Non-BYOD trend
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that more companies will implement BYOD strategies in 2013. However, I'm among a minority of people that believes that BYOD will not be as popular once people realize the cost and complexity that it entails.
My prediction: There'll be lots of talk about BYOD, and many companies will actually go that route, but the majority of organizations will instead provide a larger mix of devices that IT will support and allow employees to use on the corporate network. I agree with ShoreTel's 2013 prediction that instead of BYOD, it will be CYOD (Choose Your Own Device), where IT departments let workers choose from several approved devices.
* Business Continuity Planning
This always becomes a hot topic after a natural disaster, and Hurricane Sandy put disaster recovery and business continuity top of mind for many IT managers and CIOs. I agree with Digium, which noted in its 2013 predictions: "Being able to use on-demand cloud-based UC&C systems for disaster recovery or business continuity is an affordable option for businesses that currently have premise-based systems."
My prediction: The two primary business continuity strategies in 2013 will be geo-redundancy based on virtualized servers; and cloud services. Enterprises will have their systems on virtualized servers, public clouds, and private clouds that can quickly fail over between systems and/or sites when needed.
* Year of the Reseller?
Vendors will continue to invest in improving their channel programs, although not all reseller partners will successfully evolve to fit the changing market. New skills are required, and not all resellers are willing to get the education and certifications that are needed, such as becoming VMware- or Citrix-certified.
Similarly, not all resellers welcome the move from selling premise-based solutions to selling hosted services on a recurring revenue model, or have the working capital to finance the transition. These folks will be left out in the cold as their customers move to hosted or hybrid solutions.
My prediction: There'll be a significant shakeout of reseller partners that cannot adapt to the new world of cloud services, virtualization, and other changes in the industry.
* Lync's Impact
Microsoft continues to improve and enhance Lync, and the latest version has a nice new interface, as well as user-friendly conferencing and collaboration capabilities, although it's still lacking in mobile capabilities. The number of enterprises deploying Lync continues to grow, and it will be difficult to remove it once it's in place.
Most of these organizations have not deployed Lync Voice nor have they integrated Lync with their telephony systems; they are using Lync primarily for IM and presence--for now. In fact, the president of a telephony vendor's user group acknowledged recently that his company will most likely deploy Lync Voice in the next two years.
My prediction: Microsoft will continue making inroads and will displace legacy telephony systems at an increasing rate in 2013.
* New Terms to Learn WebRTC is being discussed and debated by many technology providers and carriers today, but will become more common in 2013 as the standard is released and supported on several web browsers, including Chrome and Firefox.
A new term, hypervoice, entered the vernacular in 2012, and we'll hear more about it in 2013. According to Martin Geddes, who coined the term, what hypertext did for text, hypervoice will do for voice--i.e., it will bring voice into the era of the Web by turning voice into a native Web object, rather than trying to convert it into a text object.
My prediction: These terms will be used more frequently when discussing UC, especially in regard to communication-enabling business processes.
Wishing you all a happy and successful New Year.