The UC Market Year in Review
Cloud, Lync, UC Mobility, and Video were the dominant UC topics in 2013. How will they evolve in 2014?
With 2013 just about in the books, I thought it would be fun to take a quick look back at the hot UC topics of the past year (focusing on technology rather than acquisitions and executive musical chairs), and how each of those areas will likely evolve in 2014. In our 2013-14 Enterprise Technology Benchmark; based on live interviews with representatives of approximately 170 companies; four technologies stood out as primary IT focus areas: Cloud, Microsoft Lync, UC Mobility, and Video.
Cloud: Cloud continued to receive a great deal of attention from vendors, service providers, and IT buyers. Our data showed that uptake of cloud-based UC services was strong, with 13% now using cloud telephony (up from 5% in 2012), while nearly 19% have adopted cloud-based video conferencing services from vendors including AGT, BlueJeans Network, and Vidtel. In addition to the real-time apps, we saw strong uptake of cloud-based email/calendaring with 25% using this now, while another 28% are evaluating services for future deployment. To date, the largest users of cloud voice remain small companies, though an increasing percentage of larger organizations are evaluating cloud as well.
2014 Outlook: Given the percentages of companies in the midst of evaluating cloud for future deployment, I expect cloud adoption to rapidly grow in 2014 as well. As cloud adoption increases, enterprises will face issues such as integration of cloud and on-prem, management of cloud services to minimize costs and maximize performance, and how to federate different cloud services to provide an integrated user experience.
Microsoft Lync: Our data shows Microsoft is making inroads in the IP telephony market. Forty percent of participants are moving, or planning to move to a new telephony platform, with 13% of those going to Lync; equal to that of Avaya, though trailing Cisco (at 23%). Thirty-two percent are still evaluating IPT vendors, while the remainder are moving to a variety of smaller vendors, or to cloud services.
Microsoft continues to make waves as it aggressively targets its competition, though our recent UC Total Cost of Ownership study noted that it's significantly more expensive to operate a Microsoft telephony environment than it is for competing systems. Still, the biggest question we get asked from our clients is, "Should I adopt Lync for telephony?" In most cases, this question comes from customers of a variety of Lync competitors who are looking at delivering a seamless UC experience across desktop and mobile devices for all applications.
2014 Outlook: I expect that Microsoft will continue to pressure Avaya and Cisco, as well as other UC vendors, though both its chief competitors have turned up their game--honing their message (and products) to differentiate in areas such as mobility, customer contact center integration, licensing, cloud, video, and UC management strategies. Still, this remains a highly competitive market.
UC Mobility: We saw strong adoption of PC/laptop softphones, smartphone clients, and tablet clients in 2013. Our participants told us that by the end of 2014, about 24% of all IPT endpoints will be mobile clients (smartphone or tablet), while 19% will be softphones. Those numbers represent a 324% and 306% increase over 2013 respectively. Softphones are replacing desktop phones for 30% of endpoints, while mobile clients most often supplement desktop or softphones. Mobile capabilities continue as the key differentiator in RFP evaluation as companies increasingly see devices such as iPads and smartphones supported as work devices.
2014 Outlook: More of the same and then more! We expect the percentage of employees using tablets as their primary work device to go north of 20% in 2014, while BYOD policies mean rapid user demand to integrate mobile devices with UC platforms--smartphones aren't just for email/calendar/contact mobility anymore.
Video: We tracked two key trends in 2013: Growth of access to video conferencing across a range of endpoints, and rapid adoption of enterprise platforms for video content sharing and streaming.
In terms of endpoint expansion, in 2013, roughly 23% of companies had deployed desktop video clients to more than half of their PCs, up from 9% who had that large of a deployment in 2012. Surprisingly, 27% were incorporating tablets into their video plans.
The ease of recording video, and the popularity of recording and sharing video in the consumer space, is translating into demand for enterprise-style YouTube capabilities as well: Seventy three percent of companies are either deploying, or evaluating the prospect of providing employees with tools to upload and share video inside the enterprise, driven largely by demand for distance learning, meeting recording, and using video as a workgroup or team collaboration medium.
2014 Outlook: For conferencing, a major focus of next year's benchmark is to understand whether or not greater access to video conferencing is leading to increased usage. For user-generated video, I think we're just scratching the surface, though security, compliance and governance concerns will likely intersect with increasing user demand.
Note: If you represent an end-user organization (non IT vendor/service provider) and are willing to participate in a one-hour confidential interview for next year's benchmark in exchange for access to the full benchmark results, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @imlazar.