Outlook 2013: Unified Communications & Collaboration

By Khali Henderson and Kelly Teal Comments
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Those figures mirror findings from an April 2012 survey of more than 1,100 IT and business decision makers conducted by IDG Enterprises. Ninety percent of respondents said they had scheduled UC&C investments into 2013 and 74 percent of enterprises were accelerating those plans because of the BYOD phenomenon. And a significant percentage (27 percent) of buyers were eyeing a combination of on-premises and hosted UC within three years.

Industry Predictions. Suppliers, partners and analysts all foresee uptick in the adoption of UC&C platforms in 2013, although the economy remains a sticking point and will continue to slow the sales cycle. Perhaps due in part to that fact, sources say large enterprises accustomed to buying hardware will start to give more consideration to UC-as-a-service, while self-service options will flourish among companies with 50 or fewer employees. Regardless of organization size, UC&C will thrive, particularly as deployments let people bring their own devices to the network; as installations allow for customization with third-party Web apps, CRM clients and more; and as UC&C helps IT departments save money while fueling productivity.

“The major ILECs will come into the cloud PBX and UC space with aggressively priced offers for small business. The next telecom boom will begin as a ‘land grab’ develops."
—SimpleSignal’s Dave Gilbert

"We will begin to see virtualization in the UC&C space, as it will allow users to improve the efficiency of their applications, consolidate servers and reduce power usage."
—Catalyst Telecom's Mike Ferney

"Audio and text become interchangeable. Sometimes it’s easier to read a voicemail, and sometimes it’s easier to hear a missed chat message. However, the greatest part is that increasingly in 2013, all options will be available and searchable. Likewise, it will become more commonplace to search recordings from audio and video meetings."
—Siemens Enterprises' Patrick Kehoe

Channel Opportunities. Customization and integration are key to winning the UC&C game. Overwhelmingly, our panel cited these capabilities as critical to retaining customers and furthering a next-generation partner practice. For example, be sure to include BYOD functionality, IM clients and video collaboration to supersede the traditional phone-system sale. Partners who make UC&C platforms work with an organization's other business-critical applications will foster customers for life, sources agreed.

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