4 UC Predictions for 2016

Business leaders and CIOs alike are increasingly prioritizing business communications across the enterprise, leveraging unified communications (UC) services as a key platform to lower costs, improve flexibility, and provide stronger productivity.

Unified communications as a whole is gaining momentum. Adoption is at an all-time high as organizations are realizing the value of integrating the growing number of communication methods, such as chat, video, file sharing, and conferencing. Laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and even the Apple Watch are being used as communication devices for business.

The continued proliferation of mobile devices will impact the whole IT market, including UC. We will continue to see the growth in new and expanded cloud-based applications, with more distributed and open architectures.

Looking ahead, here are four predictions on the unified communications market:

In the upcoming year, unified communications as a service (UCaaS) will continue to grow at a much faster rate than the rest of the UC market, and adoption won't be limited to any particular vertical or business size. Increasingly global and mobile workforces will drive greater demand for globally available UCaaS solutions. This as-a-service model has compelling and lasting value, providing organizations greater flexibility to manage their capabilities as they grow.

Most companies will still leverage their existing on-site platforms, but will also take advantage of new capabilities and applications in the cloud. In 2016 we will see more companies adopt a hybrid consumption model, a mix of on-premises and cloud solutions. This approach provides the greatest flexibility and an easy migration path to cloud-based services for the future.

This flexible delivery model enables companies to optimally solve their business problems. For example, companies may want to keep their voice systems on-premises, but have their contact center application in the cloud. As they grow, companies may add new sites and remote offices through a cloud-only offer, while having a single directory and set of user profiles across the enterprise. A hybrid consumption model can assure service continuity and availability.

The rise of CCaaS will allow businesses to turn on and scale a contact center quickly with minimum capital outlay. Contact center agents will add functions beyond voice and email such as chat, workgroups, and analytics. Greater customization of agent interfaces will enable access to relevant data.

We will see a rise in the importance of proficient enterprise-class contact centers in the cloud to improve the customer experience, as the demand for omni-channel customer support persists. With highly cost effective contact center technology available today, small to medium businesses will take advantage of capabilities that were not available previously.

New collaboration capabilities that enable virtual work groups to share and store more information will continue to proliferate. In their continuous search for productivity, we will see organizations moving beyond basic application integration toward integrating more powerful collaboration tools with their communications platform. We will see more businesses looking for integrated collaboration tools that enable a natural flow between instant messaging, phone and conference communications, video, and desktop and file sharing -- without needing to open multiple applications or remember multiple passwords. As these new collaboration tools go mainstream in 2016, some will demonstrate enduring business value, and others will go unexploited.

UCaaS, hybrid consumption, contact centers, and collaboration will all be top of mind with business leaders as they adopt unified communications solutions in the new year. Early adopters will stay ahead of the competition through greater cost effectiveness, business responsiveness, and employee productivity.

To see if these predictions hold true in the New Year, attend Enterprise Connect Orlando 2016, taking place at the Gaylord Palms, March 7-10. Register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price.