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What Trends Will Dominate the UCaaS Market in 2024?
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is the term for an integrated set of communications technologies encompassing traditional office telephony — call routing, call hold, and transfer — along with modern tools like email, instant messaging, video calls, and even AI-powered automation. These features are combined in a single cloud-based application, therefore businesses don’t have to juggle multiple apps and/or services. UCaaS tools are essential for today’s businesses because they make communicating easier and more efficient.
The leading UCaaS vendors include the following: 8x8, Avaya, Dialpad, GoTo, Microsoft, Mitel, Nextiva, RingCentral, Sangoma, Vonage, Webex and Zoom.
What follows is a short discussion regarding some of the key trends in UCaaS No Jitter expects to see in 2024.
2024 UCaaS Trend #1: Generative AI Gathers No Moss
When Generative AI (gen AI) first debuted, much of the focus was on how well the technology understood natural language inputs and how human-like the generated text replies, images, music, etc., appeared. As 2023 continued, gen AI uses extended into “assistive” tasks such as streamlining the creation of rote content and/or removing some of the “heavy lifting” from laborious knowledge-based processes, such as writing email, summarizing transcripts, etc.
As of this writing, most of the major UCaaS vendors have launched some type of gen AI-powered assistant. 2024, then, is likely to see the refinement of these tools, as well as more hypotheses from many camps (e.g., vendors, analysts, consultants) regarding how efficacious those tools are in assisting knowledge workers, contact center agents, contact center supervisors/managers and executives, to become more productive or efficient in their roles. It will be important to pay attention to how those claims are substantiated.
2024 UCaaS Trend #2: Ongoing Integration of CCaaS Functionality
According to Omdia’s Brent Kelly, the precedent to buy a “PBX plus contact center” combination was around for many years before UCaaS and contact center as a service (CCaaS) existed. For example, between 60% and 80% of contact center purchases were made from the same vendor that provided an organization's private branch exchange (PBX).
Today, that preference still exists. According to an October 2023 Omdia end user survey, of those who have already purchased CCaaS, 64% indicated that they would prefer to buy CCaaS from their UCaaS provider – which is like the pre-UCaaS/CCaaS trend that Kelly mentioned.
Kelly further states that this UCaaS plus CCaaS purchase is likely preferred because organizations believe that having the same underlying platform for all their internal and external customer experience (CX) needs will help make IT operations more efficient and simplify those interactions. This single, unified platform may also help in the next trend the market is likely to see in 2024.
2024 UCaaS Trend #3: Unite Customers with Internal Knowledge Workers
According to Mila D'Antonio of Omdia, connecting the customer and agent more quickly/directly with a company’s internal knowledge worker who has the answer to their service/support issue will become the primary customer service model in the coming years especially as (generative) AI technology advances and adoption of AI in the contact center grows. She states that this shift is occurring because of remote working, a focus on customer satisfaction and a desire to improve contact center efficiencies.
This trend relates to the previous one because the vast majority of (generative) AI solutions for UCaaS and CCaaS are only accessible via the cloud.
2024 UCaaS Trend #4: Ongoing Move "to the Cloud"
According to Omdia’s October 2023 enterprise end user survey, Kelly stated that 80 percent of respondents have a PBX which is, by definition, an on-premises piece of telecom equipment (i.e., it is the company’s “phone system”). These respondents intend to keep their on-premises PBX for a while, but Kelly said they also indicated their intent to migrate some users over to cloud services.
So, Kelly concluded that while there is a lot of life left in the PBX market, vendors encourage their customers to adopt UCaaS solutions for two main reasons:
- The vendors generally make more revenue over the long term than when they sell an on-premises perpetual license. This improved annual recurring revenue (ARR) can help with a company’s stock evaluation.
- Innovating in the cloud is easier and allows the vendor to add new features that can be made instantly available for all users (or added to a higher price tier, etc.). One example of this innovation is the integration of generative AI features.
Hybrid/remote/mobile workers also benefit from having seamless access to their communications and collaboration tools regardless of where they are. These tools are kept updated and secure thanks to how the company’s IT staff can centrally manage the cloud-based data and applications.
It can also be easier to scale the number of licenses up or down depending on employee requirements. Note that this can also help an organization scale their operational costs, if they are rigorous in tracking license usage.
2024 UCaaS Trend #5: Paying Attention to UCaaS Security Threats
As No Jitter covered throughout 2023, the rise of remote work, VoIP and unified communication services have emerged as a prime target for hackers. Of course, this includes UCaaS services and applications such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Webex, in addition to the products from the vendors cited above.
In the linked article about security, there are various common attacks on VoIP services – volumetric, DDoS, small packet size, etc. – that can be used to compromise an enterprise’s communications. Organizations need to be aware of these attacks, and others, and conduct their due diligence to ensure that their UCaaS provider has defenses in place for those attacks. And if that provider does not, then the enterprise should itself take the necessary actions to shore up its defenses and mitigate those threats.
Want to know more?
- The Leading UCaaS Providers of 2024: The following article provides an overview of the leading UCaaS providers and what they offer in terms of features, functionality, integrations and/or partnerships.
- Choosing a UCaaS Provider for Your Business: This guide provides some tips on what to look for when shopping for a UCaaS provider.
- What is Microsoft 365 Copilot: Microsoft 365 Copilot is available now. Learn more about Microsoft 365 Copilot, what it is, how it works, and how to use it, as well as its features, price, and more.
- Microsoft 365 Copilot: Microsoft 365 Copilot is generally available to enterprise customers. It offers a generative AI-powered assistant that can potentially boost productivity in multiple ways and it integrates with Microsoft Teams, the UCaaS application.