UCaaS has potential, but also filled with challenges
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) started gaining momentum from the time of the global recession when companies started seeing gains in taking their UC capabilities and moving it into a service model. With cloud computing reaching maturity, an increased number of enterprises are integrating UC with the emerging elements of cloud services. However, there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed by enterprises as well as their service providers for a wide scale successful implementation.
A recent report by research firm M&M predicts that the global UCaaS market is expected to grow from $2.52 billion in 2013 to $7.62 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 24.8 per cent. The growth in this market is driven by the emergence of video technology and collaboration solutions. The UCaaS telephony market itself is expected to grow from $0.87 billion in 2013 to $2.48 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 23.3 per cent from 2013 to 2018.
According to Daisy Chittilapilly, VP, ITS, Cisco India and SAARC, “As more enterprises are currently deploying UC as a service on their existing infrastructure, the market of hybrid UCaaS will continue to mature.” This provides the opportunity to cloud providers to integrate their services with UCaaS service providers. According to Chittilapilly, cloud based UC will continue to see greater adoption especially with the rise of enterprise mobility and more so with the prominence of the bring your own devices (BYOD) trend.
Although companies across sectors are using UCaaS through web and video conferencing, messaging and VoIP with many noticing a marked difference in their ROI, experts believe that the real adoption is yet to happen when enterprises connect all UC applications into an integrated framework.
Parminder Kaur Saini, Industry Manager, Information & Communication Technology, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia & Middle East, believes that it’s a matter a time before companies realize the real gains of UC services. “There is often a communication gap between the vendor and the customer that creates a lot of ambiguity in adopting the technology. At the same time, solutions offered by the existing vendors often create a huge interoperability problem. This forces an enterprise customer to either choose a single vendor solution or to restrict the component they deploy,” she states.
CIOs should also understand that UC adoption is not a single solution but a process that requires careful planning and testing. Often phased deployment of UC solution help enterprises understand the technology better and reap its benefits. Moreover, there is a need for enterprises to have a strong UC strategy to be more competitive and agile, believes Chittilapilly.
But most CIOs argue that there is no point in creating a unified strategy without integrating it with the business goals. “The management should be very clear on what it wants to achieve from UC implementation. The entire team should be educated on the wide variety of UC applications and measure its impact in the context of the organizational objectives,” points out Vishal Anand Gupta, Jt. Project Director HIMS & Manager - Systems, CMRI.
Enterprise technology evangelist Orin Broberg mentions in his latest blog that UC service providers should act as real consultants to CIOs to create valued customer experience. When there is adequate knowledge sharing, UCaaS can act as a powerful technology, not only driving workforce productivity and effectiveness, but also in accelerating innovation. Choosing a skilled implementation and support partner is critical to achieving the benefits and ROI in UC services, believes Broberg.
The UCaaS opportunity can prove lucrative for the vendor ecosystem, points out the report. Major players such as Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, Alcatel-Lucent and others should come up with innovative marketing strategies to woo the enterprises. Proper training and awareness coupled with a collaborative approach can certainly lead to a strategic adoption of this technology in the coming months.
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