SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Zeus Kerravala | January 21, 2016 |

 
   

Six UC Predictions for 2016

Six UC Predictions for 2016 Here's my take on how unified communications will shape up this year.

Here's my take on how unified communications will shape up this year.

Happy New Year, fellow UCers. We're more than halfway through January now, which means the NFL playoffs are well under way, tax season is looming, and it's time for my annual predictions.

1. UC gains momentum with line-of-business (LOB) managers
Despite the strong value proposition to end users, UC has primarily remained an IT purchase. In 2016, however, LOB managers will start purchasing UC services directly. This will become especially easy with the maturation of UCaaS offerings. In addition, UC vendors are now orienting their strategies around selling "business outcomes." In the past, if a UC vendor had an opportunity to meet with a C-level executive or LOB manager, it wouldn't have had anything to say -- but now it does. As Cisco and Microsoft jockey for the No. 1 position, the LOB adoption of UC will create opportunities for other vendors to penetrate these top accounts.

portable

2. UC grows 10% to 15% in 2016
Despite the hype surrounding UC for the better part of 15 years, the technology's adoption has been sluggish. Year after year, UC has failed to live up to industry projections. This year will be different; the $20 billion market will grow at least 10%, and more likely closer to 15%. Cloud services, mobility, and the fact that UC is becoming much easier to integrate into business applications will be key contributors to the market growth. Also, almost every vendor has been focused on making UC products easier to use. This will lead to greater enterprise adoption, which will drive usage, which in turn will create more demand.

3. UCaaS goes upstream
I've read many "UCaaS will grow in 2016" predictions, and to those soothsayers I say, "No kidding." UCaaS has been red-hot over the past few years, with most of the growth coming from U.S.-based small and midsized organizations. This year large organizations will realize the cloud offers a better way of deploying UC then the traditional premises model. Many will begin adopting UCaaS for branch offices, remote workers, or as noted above, within the LOB, and some organizations will shift entirely to UCaaS.

4. UC analytics rises
One of the challenges enterprise IT has faced with UC is the inability to show clear return on investment since much of the value is from "soft" factors such as increased worker productivity or faster decision making. So, how do you take something that historically has been unmeasurable and make it measurable? The answer, "With data and analytics." Expect to see more vendors offer tools that analyze utilization and consumption data they've captured from their products. With such analytics capabilities, enterprise IT buyers should find an easier task of quantifying UC's value. In addition, the rise of analytics will create opportunities for channel partners to develop consulting services aimed at helping customers gather and analyze UC data, and then determine the best actions to take based on the results.

5. Workstream communications and collaboration (WCC) acquisition activity
WCC hit the market in a big way in 2015. In addition to the multitude of tools from WCC startups, Unify Circuit and Cisco Spark went into general availability this past calendar year. RingCentral acquired Glip, bringing another mainstream vendor into the fold. I'm expecting to see at least two WCC acquisitions in 2016, with the most likely targets being HipChat and Redbooth. You might ask, "What about Slack?" Slack certainly has a great brand, but in April 2015 the company's valuation was estimated to be a shade under $3 billion. At the premium price that would be required for a purchase, most vendors would likely find Slack too expensive a target. The one wild card is Oracle, which despite dropping billions on infrastructure, is still just a minority player in the UC industry. Slack would give Oracle one of the top vendors in this red-hot market.

6. Communications-enabled applications go mainstream
It has been my thesis for years that most workers really don't want UC as a standalone application. Users have enough applications on their desktops, and having to flip between business applications and UC tools is inefficient and annoying. Having UC functionality built into the applications we already use would be a much better approach. This is the main reason why, for almost a decade now, the UC vendor community has been building APIs that can enable integration. However, despite the efforts of the solution providers, the expense and complexity of having to rack and stack premises-based equipment have made it prohibitive for developers to build UC-enabled applications. As a I pointed out in my year-end blog, communications platform as a service (CPaaS) offers developers the ability to create integrated applications via a cloud-based platform. This will open the doors to large software companies, corporate developers, and the tens of thousands of small ISVs out there today.

Follow Zeus Kerravala on Twitter and Google+!
@zkerravala
Zeus Kerravala on Google+





COMMENTS



August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.