Collaboration Consultancy

As we celebrate not only the start of a new year, but the start of a new decade, it makes sense to look back on how 2019 changed the unified communications and collaboration arena and what we can expect to see in the industry throughout 2020. Not only that, but we will take a look at the last 12 months at 4C Strategies, including details of a range of exciting projects that we were able to work on and a variety of other ways in which we were able to share our expertise, from speaking at events to industry publications.

What Happened in 2019?

The Launch of 5G


After years of anticipation, 5G was finally launched in the UK in 2019. BT’s EE provided the UK with its first ever 5G network, initially limited to six UK cities, including Edinburgh, Cardiff and London.


Ofcom has suggested that, in time, 5G could offer speeds of 20GB per second; that’s fast enough to download an HD 4K movie in less time than it takes to read its description. Unfortunately, however, this is not yet the reality; the fibre lines that EE is using to link each 5G site to its network currently have a total capacity of 10 GB per second, and that has to be shared around.


Aside from the obvious benefit of increased speed, 5G will also allow mobile networks to provide more connections at once. In theory, 5G will be able to support more than a million devices per square kilometre, compared to 4G’s maximum support capability of around 60,000 devices per square kilometre.


5G could provide a number of benefits to UK organisations in both the private and public sector. Read more about these benefits here.


Changes to the NHS


Throughout 2019, increasing attention was paid to the topic of digital transformation within the NHS. This comes, in part, as a result of the announcement that fax machines and pagers are to be entirely phased out throughout the NHS in the coming years.


In addition to this, 1st July 2019 saw the official beginning of NHSX’s task of transforming digital practices within the NHS. NHSX is made up of teams from NHS Improvement, NHS England and the Department of Health & Social Care. This supergroup has been set up to take responsibility for the future shaping of digital and data technology across the NHS. They will introduce policies and technology that will be used across the whole of the NHS, as opposed to the silo culture which is currently in operation. NHSX will drive this revolution in digital transformation from planning through to delivery, setting policy along the way for everyone in the NHS to follow.


You can find out more about what NHSX has been tasked with doing here.


The Effects of Brexit


For much of 2019 the UK remained uncertain of its future either inside or out of the European Union and, as with most industries, this had an effect on the unified communications industry. This uncertainly was particularly prominent when it came to matters of public sector procurement. In 2019, some definite guidelines started to be communicated with regards to public sector procurement post-Brexit. Largely, the public sector procurement regulations will be unchanged, but there are some points which the public sector and relevant organisations should consider.


You can read more about these guidelines and how they will affect your organisation here.


Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams


The retirement of Skype for Business has been a hot topic within the unified communications and collaboration space for some time, and that continued in 2019 as the ultimate “pulling of the plug” crept ever closer. It was announced in 2019 that Skype for Business Online will officially be retired on 31st July 2021. Microsoft also announced that Skype for Business Online users with 3PIP devices who have migrated or intend to migrate to Teams will only be able to continue using their 3PIP devices, with limited functionality, until 31 July 2023. After this date, Microsoft will no longer support 3PIP phones on Teams and so, to ensure business continuity, these phones should be replaced with native Teams-certified phones. You can read more about 3PIP devices and Microsoft Teams here.


For a more detailed insight into how an organisation can prepare for the retirement of Skype for Business in favour of Microsoft Teams, read 4C Director Dave Mailer’s white paper, Navigating the “Roadmap” to Microsoft Teams: From Pilot to Deployment.


Further Changes in the UC Industry


Of course, there were many more notable changes and events in 2019, including Avaya’s CS1000 reaching end of manufacturer support, Mitel’s bid to acquire Avaya and Apple’s retirement of iTunes.


2019 at 4C Strategies


2019 was certainly a busy year for 4C Strategies and our team of expert unified communications consultants. To find out about some of the many projects we carried out over the course of the year, you can visit our case studies section.


Industry Events and Publications


Aside from acting as consultants to clients in a number of industries, 4C was able to share its industry expertise in other ways throughout 2019. Our directors spoke and exhibited at a number of industry events, such as the UCISA 19 Leadership Conference and UC EXPO. In addition to this, 4C Director Gill Rowbotham recently spoke at an event at University College London, discussing the ways in which Microsoft Teams is transforming intelligent communications.


Throughout 2019, 4C Director Dave Mailer wrote a regular column for No Jitter, a leading industry publication. You can view a collection of Dave’s articles here.


4C Director Mark Sayers also wrote an article for ESPO, discussing the ways in which artificial intelligence and chatbots could benefit local government.


Procurement Frameworks and Accreditations


In 2019, 4C Strategies was awarded a place on the G-Cloud 11 framework, enabling our expert consultants to continue delivering IT and unified communications consultancy services and project management as a Crown Commercial Services Supplier. Find out more here.


4C was also re-awarded its Cyber Essentials accreditation.


What Does 2020 Hold for Unified Communications and Collaboration?


Leading up to 2020, the trade press and Internet were full of all types of predictions on the future; the telecoms industry being no exception. But should we believe them, or are they just marketing hype? Should they influence your organisation’s thinking for the coming months and years? To find out, here is 4C Director Dave Mailer’s article, fact-checking 2020’s biggest predictions for the UC arena.


Seeking Advice from an Expert Unified Communications Consultant


4C Strategies is a group of qualified unified communications and collaboration consultants with a wealth of experience in a variety of industries and sectors. We appreciate that every organisation is different, and we specialise in the assessment of each client’s unique business requirements. This means that we are able to ascertain exactly what would be required from the organisation’s telephony, unified communications and collaboration applications and ensure that we can recommend a solution that will successfully and efficiently meet your needs. In addition to this, each client is assigned a project manager that will work with them onsite to oversee the project from start to finish.


To find out how 4C Strategies can make unified communications work hard for your organisation, contact us on 01858 438938, or email