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The Future of Enterprise Communications: A Customer Perspective

A few findings of Frost & Sullivan's annual end-user survey may come as a surprise, including significant confusion over the meaning of "UC" and "UCC."

Frost & Sullivan has published the results of our annual end-user survey on enterprise communications, and some of the findings may surprise you. For starters, 42% of the 1,028 respondents--IT decision makers in the U.S. and Europe--say they have a limited understanding of the meaning of the terms "UC" and "UCC." This is especially true for small organizations and those in government and manufacturing. This is a significant challenge for the market and for its prospective customers, since IT managers and end users can't benefit from UC if they don't even know what it is, let alone what it can deliver.

Video, Web and audio conferencing, as well as mobile apps, top the list of UCC applications in use within businesses today. Many respondents, however, expect to see a decrease in the use of video and audio conferencing within their organizations over the next three years. We believe this is due to the growth in use of Web conferencing, which increasingly includes built-in audio and video capabilities. Business-grade softphones, tablets, and UC clients are expected to experience the most significant increases in demand over the next three years, and cloud computing is expected to increase by 20% over the same time period.

The cost and complexity of deploying and managing multi-vendor communications solutions continues to compel businesses to consolidate and integrate their disparate platforms and applications or switch to single-vendor communications solutions. Then again, IT managers have been telling us this for years; whether they will actually make the dream of unification a reality in 2014 remains an open question.

The cost of supporting new business needs, such as an increasingly distributed workforce, is more significantly felt by IT decision makers in the U.S., larger organizations, and companies in the financial and manufacturing sectors. The largest proportion of IT decision makers agree that new regulatory requirements are driving up IT costs for their companies, but this issue is more pressing for U.S. companies and those in the financial and healthcare sectors.

The rise of the virtual organization and the need to support remote workers, mobility, and bring-your-own technology (BYOT), along with the growing demand for social networking, visual collaboration, and a more personalized experience, are top of mind for IT decision makers and having a considerable impact on IT investment decisions. Overall, the largest proportion (62%) of the workforce operates out of office locations, while 22% are mobile workers, and the remaining 16% are remote employees.

Clearly, vendors, consultants and analysts must continue to educate the market and take a more consultative approach to their sales efforts, focusing on business needs and value instead of the technology itself. Vendors should also deliver UCC solutions and specific vertical applications that improve regulatory compliance at a lower cost, and help customers consolidate their UCC infrastructure through the use of open standards and advanced technologies.

The full report--which includes breakdowns of responses according to region, industry and company size--is available now. Please contact me ([email protected]) for more information.

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