What are the 2014 predictions for the UC industry?

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So looking around the market, this is how we see the predictions for the UC (unified communications) industry, in 2014:

1. Market consolidation

In 2013 we saw further concentration in the UC market, with the merger of Mitel and Aastra. In 2014 We will see at least one other major merger, this time involving one of the major players. In addition, the UC marketplace will continue to see consolidation of the providers that service the small and medium business segment. Providers will start to join forces, to gain market coverage, and improve cost models to expand geographically and eventually up-market.

2. New UC entrants

Amazon and Google will both make major announcements regarding their entry into the enterprise cloud communications market in 2014.

3. UC for SMEs

Leading UC vendors will drive new SME opportunities to cloud and managed service providers, by developing a flexible UC solution that includes UC management at the core, allowing a company to grow from sub-100 users up to 10k+.

4. UC migration

By genuinely improving productivity benefits from rich UC services, and with a greater prevalence of carrier-grade cloud UC platforms, there will be re-stimulation in the adoption of UC services, both in the private and public services. This in turn will drive an increased demand to assist enterprises in migrating either from legacy TDM voice platforms, or from early generation IP voice platforms. As a result, in 2014 there will be a major industry effort to overcome the challenge of on-boarding phones and devices to new UC platforms, to get them into operation as quickly and cost efficiently as possible.

5. UC interoperability

As the biggest names in desktop and networking further collide in the enterprise, enterprise organizations will fight back by rejecting a single vendor route, insisting instead that vendors improve their solutions’ interoperability.

6. UC usability

Cisco recently delivered a very strong statement on “usability” which will resonate throughout the enterprise communications industry in 2014, with all vendors turning their attention to ease of use, with a major focus on self-service.

7. UC mobility

Fixed and mobile voice and video services will merge more quickly as mobile and tablet devices move to 4G, with increased use of IP voice services on BYOD mobile devices making interworking significantly more achievable, with integrated messaging and rich-context presence encouraging better use of UC.

8. UC triple play

There will be a significant increase in rich, triple-play deployments of integrated UC services, comprising IP hard phones, PC-soft phone clients, and mobile clients (on smartphones and tablets). This will be particularly driven by the increasing maturity of both Microsoft Lync and Cisco Jabber service offerings, and the ability to run these seamlessly on PC, IOS and Android devices. This development of rich UC service offerings will demand a higher level of service management with end users requiring integrated management of services on as many as four devices (phone, PC, dual-mode mobile and tablet).

9. Web real-time collaboration (RTC)

The hype cycle around web RTC will continue to grow in 2014 and, as a result, web RTC voice and video services will start to emerge as an extra component of voice and video services, which will require integration into enterprise voice services.

10. Video

Desktop and mobile video services will be increasingly in demand as network bandwidth continues to grow, and video codecs become more efficient and interoperable.

Do you agree? What do you think will happen in 2014?

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