As longtime industry watcher and No Jitter blogger Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp., noted in his most recent post, thinking that all of IT would shift to the cloud is now and has always been a “dumb” idea. However, as he noted, “what we’re now realizing is that the cloud is going to play a major role in applications for nearly every enterprise.” So, if you ask enterprise IT professionals whether they’ve embraced the cloud, you’re likely to hear a resounding chorus of “yeses.” Certainly, we’ve seen traction in cloud communications, as businesses of all sizes continue to turn to the as-a-service delivery model for UC, contact center, and other collaboration functions -- whether to supplement or replace on-premises installations.
Among the 127 enterprise IT professionals who responded to our 2018 Cloud Communications survey, for example, 63% said their enterprises are using cloud communications services, up from the 56% of respondents who told us the same in our 2017 survey. And the growth trend will carry into 2019, as enterprises continue looking for more flexible, agile, and scalable alternatives or complements to their legacy communications platforms. Indeed, some 79% of this year’s respondents indicated their use of cloud offerings would increase within the next year.
Click through this slideshow to discover more of what we’ve learned about enterprise use of cloud communications through this year’s survey.
When examining functions used within a unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) suite, video conferencing comes out on top -- even beating out voice calling, at 72% compared to 59%, as shown above. Is video truly becoming the default for enterprise communications, as has long been envisioned? Interestingly, IM/presence, a longtime UC staple, falls behind these two as well as screen sharing, with just more than half of respondents indicating use in their organizations (while screen sharing is in use within 58% of organizations). Perhaps this can be, in part, explained by an encroachment on IM by team messaging apps… and for more on that, see the next slide.
When looking at standalone cloud communications apps, team collaboration is hands-down the service in most widespread use -- let’s call it the Slack effect. Slightly more than two-thirds -- 68% -- of respondent organizations are using team collaboration apps. That’s well ahead of voice calling, the next closest on usage, which comes in at 41%, as shown above.
As we saw in the previous slide, team collaboration is getting the most traction among standalone cloud communications apps. Looking out over the next 12 months, the trend will continue, our data shows. When asked which additional communications functions their organizations would be getting via the cloud within the next 12 months, team collaboration once again jumped out as the leading contender.
Single source or best of breed is a dilemma that has long plagued IT when it comes to selecting technology solutions. The move to the cloud changes nothing there. As our data shows, above, fewer than 30% of organizations are committed to a single cloud communications provider. Additionally, half of respondents (51%) said the number of providers they use for communications services has increased compared to a year ago versus only 8% of organizations that have decreased the number of providers. This will be an interesting space to watch as cloud providers evolve their platforms and forge integrations to become the center of a user’s work universe. Will the trend to add in more vendors reverse itself?
As we’ve seen in previous surveys, the tendency for many IT organizations is to stick with what they know, even as they move to the cloud. Put another way, incumbents seem to have an edge among respondent organizations, with nearly two-thirds of respondents either fully migrating from premises systems to a cloud platform from the same vendor or crafting a single-vendor hybrid deployment. A quarter of respondents are going all-in with a cloud platform that’s not from their incumbent vendors, while the remainder (11%) are mixing and matching premises systems and cloud platforms from different vendors.
For more than half our survey respondents (54%), the total cost of ownership (TCO) for their organizations’ cloud communications services are about what they had expected. But for one-third of our respondents, TCO has been higher than anticipated, and a lucky 13% saw costs come in lower than planned. See above for the breakdown of how this looks on a service-by-service basis.
Although the move to the cloud for communications is a clear trend, no single reason leaps out as the most compelling for our survey respondents. In fact, “better scalability,” which tops the list, got that nod from fewer than 25% of respondents; only it, along with only three other factors, cracked the 10% mark. For those organizations that haven’t yet embraced the cloud for communications, security and cost pop up as the two primary reasons among many. “Other” drew a response for nearly one-fifth of respondents, with “adequacy of premises deployment” being a common theme among the explanations for this selection.
Regardless of whether their organizations use cloud communications services today, 49% of our respondents indicated they consider the benefits of migrating to the cloud to be clearly identifiable, with another 21% saying they’re underestimated.