Insights from BCC Research

Getting Connected: Unified Communications and Collaboration Techs

Posted by Clayton Luz on May 9, 2016 6:00:00 AM

A recent report on collaboration technology found that 40% of organizations do not have a defined unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) strategy. Another key finding: organizations are increasingly investing in a range of collaborative technologies designed to not only increase internal communication, but also commercial performance.

 
The 2016 Connected Enterprise Report also found that “increasing productivity (19 per cent of survey respondents) was the main priority of businesses when it comes to implementing a collaboration strategy,” Gary Eastwood reports.
 
The report discusses the implementation strategies, collaboration trends and disruptions in key markets. It also investigates the role of lines of business in the decision-making process and the degree to which companies have benefited from collaboration within the broader context of the move towards digital business. Dimension Data and Ovum surveyed 580 IT managers and directors, CIOs, as well as 320 line-of-business managers at companies with at least 1,000 employees.
 
WHAT IS UNIFIED COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION?
 
Unified communication and collaboration solutions comprise a variety of previously disparate products brought together by the convergence of IP networks and open software platforms, according to Nandita Bhotika, BCC Research analyst.
 
“UC&C includes solutions that integrate real–time enterprise communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence, voice telephony with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax),” Bhotika explains. “UC solutions are being integrated with collaboration tools that facilitate group conversation through audio, video and Web conferencing, shared virtual whiteboards, and file sharing among others. UC&C is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user-interface and user-experience across multiple devices and media types.”
 
COLLABORATIVE SOLUTIONS GAINING IN ADOPTION
 
The adoption of UC&C solutions started with the unification of voice telephony with instant
messaging (IM) and voicemail systems, says Bhotika. However, the scope of UC has now expanded to include collaboration tools such as file sharing, whiteboards, Web and videoconferencing, social apps and presence.
 
“BCC Research expects that as technologies evolve to meet the needs of the new way of work, stand–alone voice UC telephony systems will lose its dominance of the market and more businesses will move to unification of their collaboration, conferencing and customer support communication needs,” she notes.
 
Currently, the share of enterprise voice telephony in the overall UC&C market is presently 33% (in 2014) and is expected to diminish to 20% in 2020. However, Bhotika says this does not undermine the importance of voice telephony in the UC&C marketplace. “This is still a critical function and the ability of the UC vendor to provide high-quality and reliable support for the voice communication service is essential in vendor selection,” she observes.
 
The unified collaborative applications segment also is seeing renewed interest as unified messaging, IM or presence and social networking applications converge and are becoming important channels of collaboration and group communication. Recently, there has been a surge in UC&C players launching team–based collaboration tools that unify all aspects of team communication. Cisco launched Spark in 2015, Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise Communications) launched Circuit and other players are acquiring niche solution providers in the team collaboration solution segment.
 
OTHER KEY FINDINGS: DIMENSION DATA REPORT
 
Evan Kirchheimer, practice leader of enterprise services/telecoms at Dimension Data, which conducted the 2016 Connected Enterprise Report, noted that companies also perceive collaboration as boosting sales (14 per cent).  In contrast, only 4% of organizations use return on investment (ROI) as the primary method of determining whether their deployment of new collaboration technologies has been a success, Eastwood writes.
  • Enterprises rely on collaboration to drive sales and new revenue
  • Few enterprises view return on investment as the main way they measure the success of their use of collaboration technology
  • Not enough focus on what happens after the technology is deployed
  • Collaboration improves the ability of companies to interact with customers
  • Collaboration accelerates decision-making, but many organizations need to leverage it to improve their competitive position
  • Cloud-based collaboration is a strategic goal for many enterprises, but it will take some time to achieve
  • Line of business has a prominent role in deciding which collaboration technology to use