The Unified Communications industry is usually seen as forever waiting on the launchpad, but if recent studies are any indication, UC vendors and service providers alike stand to rake in billions in the coming years.
Hexa Research offers custom research and consulting services to an array of industries, including the communications sector. The company has conducted a study to re-assess the state of Unified Communications and found that things are looking good for players in this market. In fact, “good” is an understatement.
Giving a new meaning to “handsome profit,” the business intelligence firm reports that increasing mobility in enterprise environments will help the global Unified Communications market attain revenues upwards of $75 billion by 2020. The only things presumably holding back widespread adoption of UC solutions are capital investments and challenges linked to seamless operation across platforms. However, this is where hosted UC comes into play.
The future is “hosted”
As avid readers of our blog should know, Unified Communication solutions are divided into two distinct breeds: on-premise systems, or hosted (cloud-based) solutions. On-premise involves a lot of hassle and high maintenance costs. Take IP-PBX. On-premise IP-PBX is tough to set up, tough to maintain and requires a large upfront investment. It’s also a pain to scale it up or down. Purchasing an on premise IP-PBX phone system means buying actual hardware – not just the phone terminals, but also a server.
- Buy more hardware than you need and you’re stuck with it
- Buy less and you’ll go through more bother every time you need to rig new lines
- Change your mind about the setup after everything has been said and done… let’s not even go there
At the other end of the spectrum, if you go with a modern, hosted system, you get the utmost functionality, pay-per-use licensing, the ability to add or subtract lines at the flick of a switch, and your upfront investment will be marginal (compared to the on-premise solution). Hosted IP telephony lets you juggle functionality for virtually any business and any scenario. You can even throw your personal devices into play. Off the top of my head, I can name these key positives:
- Lower costs for initial equipment and set-up
- No maintenance costs of the IP-PBX
- Low monthly service cost
- Easy to add extra lines
- All-new feature sets are possible at the provider’s will
- New feature installation is handled by the provider
- Managing virtual numbers (picking, canceling) is a walk in the park
- Moving a phone system is as easy as plugging it into a broadband connection
- The provider handles the patches and the upgrades
- Redundancy (ensured by an additional facility) means that even loss of Internet doesn’t affect operations much
Seeking support from big institutions
Hexa Research reports that on-premise UC accounted for 59% of the total demand in 2013, a figure that keeps dwindling down with each passing year as hosted services look more and more attractive to enterprises and SMBs everywhere. By 2020, it projects a rapid growth rate for cloud-based UC but only if the institutions that have the power to make real change play ball. The report notes that “government, healthcare and education applications” hold serious potential for UC’s growth on a global scale.
North America contributed to more than 34% of the total market share in recent years, becoming a key regional market for the global Unified Communications industry. Europe and Asia Pacific are not too far behind, as businesses there begin to note the savings resulted from efficient use of Unified Communication & Collaboration products.
The full paper sells for $4,500, but you can probably hold on to your cash and consider investing it in what the report promises to be a no brainer – hosted UC.