Unified Communications in 2017: A Consultant’s Roundup

unified communications 2017

A Consultant’s Roundup

A lot of unified communications activity has taken place in the year 2017 and, here at 4C Strategies, we believe there’s never been a more exciting time to be a unified communications consultant. Analysts are predicting that the unified communications market will triple in size in the coming years, reaching $96 billion by the end of the year 2023. 2017 has seen the emergence of new entrants to the market, such as Amazon and LogMeIn, whilst also seeing some important changes amongst the industry’s big-name brands, such as Cisco, Avaya and Mitel. Here at 4C, we wanted to give a quick roundup of the important events of 2017, whilst also looking ahead to what we can expect to see in 2018.

Digital Transformation / Customer Experience

In 2018, vendors will begin looking for ways in which they can differentiate themselves through improved digital solutions, stronger portfolios and customer satisfaction strategies that are carefully considered, both in design and implementation.

This will require a close look at the collaboration market, as the majority of enterprises are now considering connectivity between groups to be an absolute necessity. The biggest change to the collaboration market in 2017 will no doubt come as a result of the end of Skype for Business, as it is replaced by Microsoft Teams. We are sure to see the results of this change as we move into 2018.

Meanwhile, many other vendors are continuing to develop their own collaboration applications and offerings in their own quest for differentiation.

As new strategies emerge handling the matter of customer satisfaction and firms are forced to invest in broadening their portfolios, brands will be prompted to consider refining their digital strategies. 2017 has been a year defined by security and privacy and, as the GDPR deadline looms in May of next year, we can expect to see various UC providers, platforms and vendors releasing formal statements centring around new privacy regulations.

The Changing State of Unified Communications

2017 has proven itself to be a year in which we addressed the versatile nature of unified communications. We have noticed hybrid cloud UC gathering speed, as it acts as an appropriate deployment option for large enterprises who may wish to dip their toes into cloud communications.

Hybrid solutions are a popular option and we believe this will only increase going into 2018, as many firms have invested a lot of time and money into their legacy systems and, for this reason, are reluctant to abandon them entirely, in which case a hybrid solution becomes the perfect compromise. 2018 will most probably be the year in which these companies must decide whether to move entirely over to a cloud model or to employ hybrid solutions.

2017 has also seen the emergence of video as a powerful component in this rapidly evolving industry. Whilst the market for hardware remains fairly flat, video calls have become a popular means by which to stimulate engagement within teams and deliver an all-around more immersive communications experience. This has come as a result of vendors deploying cloud solutions for video, as well as the upcoming possibilities of 5G – something else that we can look forward to seeing more of in 2018 – when combined with the increasing accessibility of fibre broadband.

It will be interesting to see if the rise in video conferencing leads to further market consolidation in 2018.

Disruptive Technology to Expect in 2018: AI, IoT, AR and VR

There are a number of disruptive technologies that have appeared throughout 2017 that we can only expect to see more of in the coming year. Cisco has already begun to implement Virtual Reality with Cisco Spark, contact centres are increasingly integrating Artificial Intelligence into their platforms, and many businesses are now employing the Internet of Things in order to connect devices in real time.

2017 also saw a significant rise in the prominence of “voice assistants” (OK Google, Alexa, etc.), although this has mainly been concentrated within the consumer space and is yet to emerge in a business environment. 2018 could, however, be the year that we see this happen. According to Scott Hoffpauir, CTO of BroadSoft, “We foresee that, in 2018, the first generation of voice assistants will be put through their paces, at least in trails – by leading suppliers and early adopter enterprises.”

Are Consultants Predicting Further Consolidation Within the Unified Communications Market?

If you’re an avid reader of the 4C Strategies blog, you’ll know that we have reported on a lot of market consolidation this year as a result of many substantial acquisitions from some of the market’s biggest players. Maintel acquired Intrinsic, Mitel acquired ShoreTel and Cisco acquired BroadSoft. Consolidation has become an increasingly prominent trend within the market and it is highly likely that this will continue into 2018.

Unified Communications in 2017: A Consultant’s Roundup

And there we have it; our consultant’s roundup of the last year’s unified communications market and trends. If you would like further advice on what the changing UC environment means for you or wish to find out how your organisation could be using unified communications to the utmost efficiency, do not hesitate to contact 4C Strategies by emailing webenquiries@4c.co.uk or calling 01858 438938.