UCUnified Communications (UC) has compelling advantages over on-premises UC solutions and therefore Frost&Sullivan analysts expect 2015 to be a breakthrough year for cloud UC solutions – especially due to several new trends, including UC-enabled “everything” services, UC enriched mobility, and the maturing of cloud infrastructures to handle cloud UC services.

Fact is that the UC industry became more software-centric with an emphasis on cloud computing and associated business models, pushing systems integrators to the fore and challenging the well-tried sales strategies. Hence, Shailendra Soni, Industry Principal for ICT, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific expects service providers to form alliances or acquire companies, such as channel partners or small emerging solution vendors, to increase their reach and offering and believes that a few regional telephony vendors will fold or be acquired by other vendors.

The analyst’s top UC trend predictions, that will shape the industry in 2015 and beyond, however, are in a few words the following:

  1. The UC on-premises market will migrate to UCaaS, whereby especially large and very large enterprises migrate to UCaaS at a fast pace. The flexibility of deployment from on-premises to hybrid to cloud will put UCaaS solutions ahead of UC on-premises solutions.
  2. Third party vendors will play a pivotal role by providing solutions that help to enable integration and enable growth for the UCaaS market, since the UC industry is expected to move to the cloud
  3. Asia Pacific is catching up with the trend of working from remote locations, from home and while on transit. This trend is here to stay, and many more offices will migrate away from fixed desks to hot desks; as such, the need for hard endpoints will reduce, giving way to softphones, UC clients and mobile clients. As a result of this, IP phones and digital phone sales will decline in the near future
  4. Video conferencing will continue to move from the conference rooms to desks and from hardware powered to software solution. WebRTC will start to see growth in SMBs and the education sector.
  5. Google's 'Apps for Work' and Microsoft's 'Skype for Business' will further disrupt the UC market. In fact, Microsoft is expected to be more aggressive this year with Office 365 and Skype for Business and increase its penetration in large and mid-sized enterprises. Google's 'Apps for Work' is used in Asia Pacific enterprises mainly in the education sector, but will soon break into SMEs.
  6. Wearables will enter enterprises, since using smart watches might start to track employee's activity, push timeline notifications and meeting alerts or popularize the usage of "speech to text".. Executives are expected to use wearables to stay on schedule as per their to-do list and keep track of time.
  7. Headset sales to go up as the UC clients, softphone and mobile clients will see accelerated adoption. In addition to this, growing acceptance of "Skype for Business" translates to a very good business proposition for the enterprise headset market, and other market leaders such as Plantronics and Jabra are expected to grow as well. Wireless headsets will have faster growth than wired, as employee usage moves from one device to many devices.
  8. Resurge in hosted telephony market, since service providers will attack the hosted telephony market with new offerings and with new vigour, as telecommunications infrastructure across the Asia Pacific region is expected to continue improving in the future. Enterprises will adopt hosted telephony as a part of UCaaS solution or as a part of their future roadmap in UCaaS adoption.

Assuming that 2015 is indeed the year when cloud-based UC becomes the standard, businesses will of course need to choose the right solutions provider carefully, especially since we already started to welcome the UC-enabled ‘Everything Cloud’ and the fact that mobile UC for the BYOD generation goes mainstream

So, choose your cloud-based UC providers wisely according to the purpose or, if in doubt, simply take those with established reputations for performance, customer service, and technological advancement.

By Daniela La Marca