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When Considering the Forecast for the UC Market, Consider History

Recently, I had a call with some folks from one of the leading UC vendors, and one point stands out in my mind: In the context of another discussion, one of the participants noted that the majority of the vendor's customers have yet to standardize on an enterprise IM platform, and that most of those that haven't are struggling to get the multiple services their employees use to federate as needed.Take a moment to consider that. Instant messaging has been around for more than a decade; it was initially delivered as a service to consumers, who jumped on it in large numbers very quickly; it saves people money (on phone calls) and time (to get information), and can clearly boost productivity; it is relatively inexpensive; and it was expected to be "required" by twenty-somethings as they entered the workforce.

And here we are in 2010, with fewer than half of all companies having deployed an enterprise-grade (i.e. revenue-producing) IM platform. Which isn't to say that employees aren't using IM on the job; almost everyone whose work involves a PC is taking advantage of the technology. But the majority of them are doing so on their own, without help from-or even the knowledge of-their IT departments.

What does this mean for enterprise UC? Well, you can't have a unified communications suite without presence and chat capabilities. Throw in integrated voice and conferencing, and things get complicated, quickly. If more than 50% of companies have yet to deploy IM...just how long will it take them to deploy true UC? A very long time, indeed.