Earlier this year, we dubbed 2016 the year of the Unified Communications lightweights, contrasting the agility of cloud-based UC providers with cumbersome legacy systems rooted in traditional hardware.
A new reality is upon us. Cloud adoption is transforming the unified communications space, with UCaaS market annual revenues reaching $4 billion at an annual growth rate of 16 percent according to a recent Synergy Research report.
And with this growth, there are more players for enterprises to consider, generally divided into two categories: the business suite segment and the larger standalone application segment (more on that in this great industry recap by Tech Target).
The report shows that SaaS is the smallest product segment for UC currently but has the highest growth rate, with revenues surging 50 percent each year. On top of that, enterprise buyers today are more interested in products that offer bundles of audio, video, and Web capabilities rather than individual point solutions. Users want options, and they want them altogether in one simplified package available in the cloud.
We couldn’t agree more.
Most companies are wising up to the changing market trends and user preferences. Some faster than others, but inevitably companies are beginning to realize the value of the cloud to enable communications. As legacy players spot opportunities, they’re reaching in to get a piece of the pie. Be it through strategic partnerships or mergers, software, and hardware are joining forces as the industry consolidates to absorb cloud capabilities. From Cisco and Ericsson partnering to marry products and services late last year to Vonage’s acquisition of service provider Simple Signal in spring of 2015, UCaaS is the driving force of the industry. It’s also the apple of the user’s eye, from SMBs to enterprise.
Companies are realizing the need for more sophisticated functionality to meet even the basic requirements to be considered a contender in today’s UC landscape. Add to that ease-of-use and accessibility to more employees. Evolve or die, as they say.
Amid many changes, one thing is for sure: cloud-based systems will need to be executed in simple, secure ways to achieve greater productivity and collaboration for the modern workforce. Cloud integration and services should be a foundational component of a rich user experience, not an add-on or an afterthought. For unified communications to truly work, the solution must be device agnostic. Regardless of when and how you wish to connect, it’s simple and it works. Those who can do this well will rise to the top every time.