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UC Sales On the Upswing

The results of the annual InformationWeek State of Unified Communications survey have just come in, and they show a significant uptick in UC sales. After lying relatively dormant from 2012 to 2013, respondents claiming to have deployed UC jumped from 38% to 44%. By the same token, 32% still claim to have no plans to deploy UC at all, roughly the same percentage as last year.

Just as important is the fact that more users are getting UC. Last year, 48% of respondents who had or were planning to deploy reported serving 25% or fewer of their users. This year the percentage of users served with UC shifted upward, with only 31% serving 25% or fewer of their users; the percentage serving 76% to 100% of users jumped from 21% to 37%.

Despite all of the talk about the cloud, 64% of deployments are either all on-premises (40%) or primarily-premises based. Only 3% are 100% cloud and another 20% are "primarily cloud-based."

Looking forward, 52% see either full or primarily premises-based UC deployments. And at long last, it appears that the allure of the desk phone is starting to wane. Only 30% of respondents who have deployed or are planning to deploy UC envision desk phones for 76% to 100% of their users, while 14% of the UC deployment planners indicate they will have none at all.

Users also have decided preferences regarding UC features. When we asked those who had or planned to use UC what three features they found most beneficial to the business, unified messaging and IM led the list with 36% and 30% of respondents, followed by corporate directory with 22%. Web and audio conferencing tied for fourth with 21%. Rounding out the bottom of the list were mobile UC clients at 8% and social networking with 3%.

While users are adopting UC, it does not appear to have changed how they connect to the public network. While 44% report having UC deployed, only 15% have fully migrated to SIP trunking, while another 33% have a mix of SIP and traditional PSTN connections; 10% report they are piloting SIP.

It is clear that many users are still challenged to find a business justification for UC. Once again, the top two reasons cited for not deploying UC were "Other projects have higher priority" (41%) and "No definitive business value" (40%). That is ironic in that of the 168 respondents (34% of the base) who had deployed UC and done a post-installation ROI analysis, 67% met or exceeded their predicted ROI and another 29% came close; only 4% missed by a wide margin.

One clear message that comes through is the ascendance of Microsoft. When we asked respondents who they considered to be the top three providers of UC systems, Cisco again topped the list with 73% (down from 83% last year), followed by Microsoft with 48% and Avaya with 38%. Microsoft and Avaya were tied at 47% last year. Google actually came in fourth with 11%, passing Alcatel-Lucent, which had 10% of the votes. The rest of the traditional PBX suppliers ranked in the single digits.

With regard to who was strongest in each area of UC, Microsoft led the list in IM, where its Lync product garnered 52% of the votes, followed by Skype (also owned by Microsoft) at 22%; its Exchange 2000 IM drew another 12%. The only other significant finishers were Cisco's Jabber with 20% and Google Talk with 12%.

While Microsoft led the way in IM, Cisco's WebEx dominated in web conferencing with 52% of responses, far ahead of Microsoft's Live Meeting at 29%, though Microsoft's Office 365 added another 9%. Citrix GoToMeeting finished with 26% and Google was the only other offering that hit double digits, with 10%.

I've just started analyzing the results, and that process will take a few more days. I hope to have a preliminary set of results put together for the UC Summit in La Jolla next week. The full report should be ready in a couple of weeks, and we'll have an announcement about it here on No Jitter. If you would like to see last year's survey, it can be found here.

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