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Frost & Sullivan’s End User Study Shows Interesting Trends in UC, Social Media

Microsoft is ranked the top company for delivering UC&C capabilities. Cisco and Avaya rank quite low when it comes to CXOs' perceptions of UC&C providers.

We recently published Frost & Sullivan’s annual user study, "2011 Investment Decisions in Communications and Collaboration Products and Services among North American Decision Makers." The study surveyed more than 200 C-level executives in a variety of industries, including healthcare, financial services, hospitality, IT/telecom, retail, and public sector. Company sizes ranged from small (fewer than 100 employees) to large enterprise and everything in between.

The study is intended to measure awareness and usage of communications and collaboration tools, identify leading vendors in the market, assess the importance of different communications tools, identify current and future plans for communications architectures and delivery models, understand the effect of the general economic environment on UC&C tools and endpoints, and determine executive decision makers' intentions with regard to IT and communications budgets, implementation, and use.

The awareness of all communications and collaboration tools surveyed is generally high, and the fact that utilizations rates lag behind awareness rates indicates potential for further market growth. Overall, most CXOs find value in the various UC&C technologies available to them, and they expect to increase their usage over time. But the study revealed some interesting behaviors and perceptions that will likely impact the market.

For instance, when we asked respondents about their awareness and usage of various types of UC&C applications and services, they said they use enterprise social media tools more often, and more regularly, than video and web conferencing. This is surprising, given the relative maturity of conferencing services as compared with social media. But it suggests that social business is the real game changer, and that any tools that support it will get more traction going forward.

Mobility and consumerization are also clearly having a huge impact on communications. Nearly 60 percent of respondents identified their mobile phone as their primary type of endpoint used on the job. And 35 percent of respondents said they or their employees use Google, Skype and other consumer services for enterprise communications.

Another surprising data point from the study is that Microsoft, Google, Skype, and AT&T have the greatest mindshare as communications and collaboration tool providers; Microsoft is ranked the top company for delivering UC&C capabilities. Cisco and Avaya, which together have a huge footprint in the telephony market, rank quite low when it comes to CXOs' perceptions of UC&C providers. Such views are frequently impacted by vendors' overall portfolios and market positioning, but strong consumer brands appear likely to enjoy a competitive advantage in the enterprise UCC space. Indeed, responses indicate that end users are influencing buying decisions and even adopting communication and collaboration tools on their own; and decision makers are choosing solutions for themselves and the organization based on hands-on experience.