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Mega trends boost unified communications market

Frost and Sullivan has identified ‘mega trends’ that will support unified communications (UC) market growth in the APAC region.

These mega trends include cloud computing, big data analytics, social media, the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility.

According to Frost and Sullivan these trends will have a positive impact on the UC market and will make UC more critical for businesses than ever before.

"UC will no more be just about an IP phone, or a soft client, or just email and presence,” says Harsh Upadhyay, Frost and Sullivan Asia Pacific industry analyst for ICT.

“It will now be a business communication suite which integrates convergence, interoperability, security and dependability with collaboration.

“Collaborative suites will be further enhanced to deliver business outcomes, as this would be the key consideration of CXOs prior to deploying any communication suite," he says.

Frost and Sullivan says cloud computing reduces UC deployment costs, and in turn orgnisations are realising the increased value of UC suites.

UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions are growing at an unprecedented rate, and they now form a significant portion of the SaaS market, Frost and Sullivan says.

Large enterprises are now choosing the hybrid UC deployment model, and mid-market businesses also provide an opportunity for UC vendors and service providers.

Almost all leading telecom service providers already have their UCaaS offerings in the market, and large system integrators are also pushing themselves into this market, making it even more competitive, according to the analysts.

Organisations have also started using big data analytics to provide a better customer experience, says Frost and Sullivan.

According to the report, businesses can derive benefits from deploying strong analytics engines and make the most out of existing and exponentially growing data.

For instance, contact centres gather large amounts of data which can produce actionable insights and increase the quality of customer service .

Frost and Sullivan says social media is gaining traction as a contact center channel, and it is expected to become a channel as important as the phone by 2018.

Businesses should not underestimate the power of social media as it gets embedded within the various unified communication components, the analysts say.

“Analytics that run on top of social media platforms can help organisations build that extra edge which helps them in delivering superior customer experience, deriving deep consumer insights, and reducing customer churn,” says Frost and Sullivan.

Frost and Sullivan expects 80 billion connected devices by the end of 2020, and says it is important to unify the various modes of communication, for instance chat, SMS, call, social media and others, over the multiple devices.

Multiple functions within the organisation, including remote maintenance, process optimisation and intelligent branches, all require UC solutions at the backend, says Frost and Sullivan.

Growth in XMPP is a live example of such phenomenon already growing in the market, the analysts say.

The increased number of connected devices ties in with another trend: mobility.

Mobility and BYOD acceptance is imperative for organisations who want to increase productivity, enable a mobile workforce and tune into user preferences, says Frost and Sullivan.

A disparate need across the various working profiles will push UC solutions to be available on all devices as apps.

Upadhyay says, "UC vendors must re-align their strategies, solutions and messaging with upcoming market trends and changing business priorities.

“A seamless communication amongst employees, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders is a key focus point for all enterprises amidst this very complex world; and this makes unified communications very crucial."