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No Jitter Survey: Enterprises Warming to Cloud Comms… Slowly

No Jitter recently completed our third audience survey, this time on the topic of cloud communications. We wanted to get a sense for how fast communications is moving into the cloud, and after digging into some of the data, my first take is that the migration is proceeding, but not at a pace that indicates disruptive near-term change.

Since there are so many varying definitions for the cloud, we spelled out two different interpretations and asked our respondents what they were doing in each scenario. The first we described this way: "a hosted service from a third-party provider (i.e., the provider owns, operates and maintains the software in facilities it owns or buys capacity on)."


We contrasted that in the second section of the survey with this scenario: "your enterprise owns, operates and maintains the software on a cloud-based hardware platform owned and operated by a third-party provider." In general, there was even less appetite for this second option, so I'm going to focus here on the former -- i.e., the fully hosted option. In this scenario, the enterprise essentially treats communications as a utility or at least outsources the basic operations of the application/platform to a service provider.

And just to give you a snapshot of a particular market, I'm also going to focus here on larger enterprises -- those with 1,000 or more employees. These folks made up about half of our respondent base.

Overall, our survey showed that larger enterprises do use the cloud for communications -- but not necessarily in a revolutionary way. Among respondents whose enterprises have 1,000 or more employees, 48% have at least one service in the cloud, while 52% reported having no cloud communications services.

There's a big caveat as well: Respondents overwhelmingly are going to the cloud today for conferencing services -- hardly the most cutting-edge application. The most popular cloud application for larger enterprises is audio conferencing -- 48% use a cloud service for this. It's followed by Web/multimedia conferencing (42%) and video conferencing (40%).

On the one hand, you can look at audio conferencing as the granddaddy of cloud communications applications, going back to basic conference calling services; but at the same time it's also the eternal poster child for bringing functions in house as a way to make your ROI for a UC deployment. Buy a premises-based UC system that includes a conference bridge, the argument goes, and you can get rid of that expensive conference calling service and pay off the cost of the whole UC system with the savings.

When it comes to other applications, the cloud isn't making as much of a dent with larger enterprises -- though the figures are consistently above the 10%-market-share Mendoza Line that Centrex established in earlier technology generations. A rundown of adoption rates by the larger enterprises in our survey:

When we presented the same list and asked which applications our respondents expect to get from the cloud within 12 months that they don't get now, here are the figures we got:

So a year from now, according to the large enterprises we surveyed, PBX/call control and ACD/contact center will be pushing or exceeding 30% market share, which isn't too shabby even if it's not exactly a hockey stick curve. And, interestingly, more of our large-enterprise respondents are looking to grow their use of the cloud for applications we tend to think of as more forward-looking -- mobile, Web communications, and APIs. These applications will be near or over 40% share a year from now, according to the survey.

I'll just mention one final high-level statistic that I think is in keeping with the overall positive-but-not-spectacular results that this survey seems to have given us. We asked a basic attitude question, "I believe the benefits of migrating communications to the cloud (in any form) are... ." Here are the choices and the percentage responses from our large-enterprise survey base:

Over the next few weeks on No Jitter, we'll be sharing more results from our cloud communications survey, including results relating to vendor migration strategies with regard to the cloud, and what our respondents say they pay for various cloud communications. Stay tuned.

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