If you want to know how much unified communications (UC) has changed, just take a look at Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report on the technology.
It’s gone. The Magic Quadrant for UC, that is. In January, Gartner fleetingly mentioned that it’s nixing its ratings report of on-premise unified communication vendors. Instead, the research giant will put out a much less detailed product called the UC Market Guide but will continue to update its Magic Quadrants for UCaaS and CCaaS.
Moreover, Gartner stated that from now on, it will only cover vendors providing full-stack SaaS-based solutions for UC and UCC rather than just individual piecemeal products.
What does this tell you about the UC space itself? One, that on-premise UC is in danger of extinction. And two, the disparate pieces of the UC puzzle are finally coming together as a more unified, cohesive entity for enterprise customers.
Where else is UC headed? Let’s take a look at these and other trends taking us into the future of unified communication.
Okay, so we already mentioned UC is firmly entrenched in the cloud. Here’s a more detailed breakdown from a Nemertes Research survey: 67 per cent of organizations now have at least part of their UCC applications in the cloud, while nearly one-third already have their entire UCC living in the cloud.
“As UCaaS offerings mature and are increasingly able to support larger, global organizations, Nemertes expects a shift toward the multi-tenant model as the preferred cloud UCC approach for organizations of all sizes,” according to a note by Nemertes analyst Irwin Lazar.
Allied Market Research says the mobile part of the UC equation will see the most growth between now and 2023. Allied says smartphones and BYOD propelled the first wave of mobile UC growth and that “deployment of cloud-based IoT software and platforms” will help drive the next one.
Artificial intelligence is everywhere, including UC. No Jitter’s Eran Abramson calls it a key part of “UC 2.0.”
“AI has emerged in recent years as a way to provide personalization, automation and intelligent capabilities within UC solutions to help both contact centres and employees,” he writes.
Cisco is just one of many vendors rolling AI into UC offerings. As noted by IT Business Edge, Cisco announced plans at its 2019 Partner Summit to bake AI into several UC applications, especially for virtual meetings. Those enhancements will include automated voice transcription, language translation, meeting scheduling, pulling relevant attendee data from LinkedIn and automatically adjusting camera angles to give participants the best view.
Nemertes also reports that:
- almost 20 per cent of organizations support streaming video
- another 14 per cent plan to support it in 2019
- 25 per cent have rolled out anenterprise content delivery network to optimize streaming video across their network
- another 13 per cent plan to deploy such a delivery network in 2019
“Use cases such as supporting field workers, enabling customer service agents to see what customers see and enabling video to replace written communications are all driving growing interest in supporting streaming video,” Lazar writes.
Nemertes also expects more UC vendors to “deliver drag-and-drop integration capabilities” in response to customer demand — a trend that’s already underway.
“A growing number of UCC vendors now offer APIs to enable customers to integrate communications features into their existing apps or to create new customized applications and features like reporting and call management,” Lazar writes in the same Nemertes note.
That push for further integration should bring UC closer to being the sort of full-stack solution Gartner says it will now cover instead of various rag tag pieces. Eranson believes “we still have a way to go until it’s available in a truly unified form, complementing enterprise employees in and out of the office across products, services, devices, locations and even state of mind.”
UC isn’t there yet. But it’s on its way.