No Jitter is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

6 Predictions from a Consultant in the Trenches

From SMB cloud to analytics and corporate culture, here’s an in-the-trenches look at what to expect in business communications in 2015.

Many analysts and consultants have already made their New Year predictions for the UC&C market (see 6 UC Predictions for 2015). For those who have been reading my articles over the past couple of years, you know me as an 'in-the-trenches' consultant. My 2015 predictions are based on my client experiences, discussions with many manufacturers and integrators as well as 22 years of consulting/analyst experience.

  1. SMB Cloud Grows--Not really a bold prediction based on recently published market share and premises/cloud numbers. The ability to get the desired functionality while not having to deal with internal IT support offsets the higher cost (5-year TCO) for SMBs.


  2. SMB Managed Services Grows-- I'm still a bit surprised that we don't hear more about this. Most UCaaS/voice offerings have a demarc that serves as the 'dividing line' between customer and service provider responsibility. In the event of a problem, the customer may have to diagnose the issue, prove it lies on the carrier side of the demarc (and/or deal with the carrier in seeking resolution) – not typically a fun experience. Unless I'm missing something, it is also a major disincentive for the SMB customer to go cloud in the first place if they STILL need to have IT capability in this regard. Many integrators (such as SPS) and some carriers such as Sprint provide managed services where they will manage the entire customer premises IT infrastructure (LAN switches, routers, even Wi-Fi). I am keeping my eye on how pricing models evolve for these offerings in 2015.


  3. Cloud UCaaS/Voice Pricing Stays Consistent-- I predict pricing, on a per seat basis, will NOT change much in 2015. I've sat through a number of vendor presentations that have predicted the future of UCaaS pricing will follow the cost curve of PaaS (i.e. AWS, Azure, etc.) which is approaching $0 (hard to make money with that model). Maybe there is a critical mass that hasn't been reached yet; in any event, I haven't seen significant price reductions in looking at responses to RFPs that I've administered on behalf of my clients and don't expect this to change much in 2015. For larger users, cloud-based offerings typically haven't penciled out as being affordable. Please note that my Enterprise Connect RFP session (March 16) will have quite a bit of data on cloud and premises provider solutions).


  4. Analytics Gains Ground--I wrote about the two classes of analytics that I see as applicable in the UC/voice market in September 2014 and believe that system analytics will become a significant product differentiator in 2015. Those that don't offer this capability will lose some deals as a result.


  5. The New Way of Working Won't Impact Collaboration Market-- The 'New Way of Working' as defined by products such as Unify's Circuit and Cisco's Project Squared will have a limited impact on the market (as I understand it, the Cisco offering won't be a product until at least midway through the year). The idea of persistent chat and threaded conversations is not new - I've used wikis for at least 10 years (due to many higher education clients) and really liked the open source Twiki product. I do believe that a small segment of the market will gravitate toward these offerings, but that 2015 will see very little in terms of revenue. I'm not sure how market share will be measured as this is another piece of collaboration.


  6. Corporate Culture Reigns--What do I mean by this? The UC&C/voice market has seen a huge amount of innovation from the entire provider ecosystem (manufacturers, integrators, consultants, analysts). Great products that can help solve real day-to-day problems are readily available at a reasonable cost. However, in my (and many of my clients' CFOs) opinion, there is very limited implementation/utilization and real value being derived. We have learned over the past two decades the importance of changing business process, yet in the vast majority of cases, it isn't happening. Successful implementations of CEBP and related approaches are the exception. Vendors are investing heavily in this area, but I just think that there is too much inertia to overcome in 2015. As they say in sports, wait till next year!

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

Remember to register to attend Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015, taking place March 16-19. Dave Stein will be presenting the session, "UC RFP and Review: Enterprise Communications Platform – Premise vs. Cloud-Based" on Monday, March 16 at 2pm.