Four Predictions for Unified Communications in 2016

    Unified Communications (UC) continue to grow, as both business leaders and CIOs see UC as an important platform to increase productivity and collaborations, improve flexibility and lower costs. 

    Integrating the various forms of communication -- chat, video, file sharing, conferencing, etc. -- to accommodate today’s multi-generational, mobile, remote workforces has become important to most organizations. Especially since laptops, mobile phones, tablets and even the Apple Watch are being used as communication devices for business.

    The continued proliferation of mobile devices and Big Data will impact the services and technology across the whole IT market, including UC. In 2016, we will continue to see the growth in new and expanded cloud-based applications, with more distributed and open architectures. The following are four predictions for Unified Communications this year.

    UCaaS Goes Up-Market

    In the upcoming year, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) will continue to grow at a much faster rate than the rest of the UC market. Adoption will continue to grow in organizations of all sizes and in all vertical markets. This demand continues to be driven by globally dispersed, mobile workforces. This as-a-service model, or cloud-based communication, provides greater flexibility, IT simplicity and scalability that many organizations can benefit from.

    Hybrid Consumption will become Mainstream

    Many companies will still leverage their existing on-site communication platforms, while taking advantage of new capabilities and applications in the cloud. In 2016 we will see more companies adopt a hybrid communications model, a mix of on-site and cloud solutions. This mix provides the greatest flexibility and provides a migration path to cloud-based services.

    Hybrid also enables companies to optimally solve their business problems. For example, companies may want to keep their voice systems on-site, but have their contact center application in the cloud.  As they grow, companies may add new sites and remote offices through a cloud-only offer while having one directory and set of user profiles across the enterprise. Plus, a hybrid model can assure service continuity and availability.

    Contact-Center-as-a-Service Takes Off

    The rise of the Contact-Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) allows businesses to turn on and scale a contact center quickly and with minimum capital outlay. Contact center agents will add functions beyond voice and email, adding capabilities such as chat, workgroups and analytics. Greater customization of the agent interfaces will enable access to relevant data.

    We will see a rise in the importance of enterprise-class contact centers in the cloud that improve the customer experience, as the demand for omni-channel customer support continues to put demand on businesses and e-commerce sites. With highly cost effective contact center technology available today, small to medium businesses will take advantage of capabilities that were not practically available to them before.

    New ways to collaborate

    New collaboration capabilities that enable virtual work groups to share and store more information will continue to proliferate. In the continuous search for productivity, organizations will move beyond application integration to more powerful collaboration tools integrated with their communications platform. We will see more businesses looking for integrated collaboration tools that enable a natural flow between instant messaging, phone and conference communications, video as well as desktop and file sharing – without the need for opening multiple applications and remembering multiple passwords. As these new collaboration tools go mainstream in 2016, some will demonstrate enduring business value, and others will go unexploited.

    UCaaS, hybrid consumption, contact centers and collaboration will be top-of-mind with business leaders as they adopt unified communications solutions in the new year. Early adopters will stay ahead of their competition through greater cost effectiveness, business responsiveness and employee productivity. 

    To see if these predictions hold true in the New Year, attend Enterprise Connect Orlando 2016, taking place at the Gaylord Palms, March 7-10. Register now 

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