Mitel’s CTO predicts the future of UCaaS in less than five minutes

In a video interview at the recent UC Summit, Jim Davis suggests where vendors will need to offer flexibility

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UCaaS adoption patterns

Watching this recent video of Mitel Networks CTO Jim Davies gave me a sneak peek at the future of unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) – as well as a flashback to my own past.

First, the future.

Interviewed at the 2014 UC Summit in La Jolla, Calif., Davies gives his take on how unified communications will increasingly move to the cloud. Among the highlights:

Who: Davies says the CIO or CTO won’t always be the key decision-maker in deploying UCaaS. “It may be, in some cases, decided by a different person altogether, maybe someone in the business unit, for instance.”

What: Davies defines cloud as “not a new business per se. It’s really a different way of consuming something that people have consumed all along. So it’s not creating new value, it’s a different way to consume it.”

Where: A big chunk of UC will still reside on-premise, Davies predicts. “Maybe 30 to 40 per cent of the customer base will be (in the) cloud five years from now. Which means 60 to 70 per cent will still be buying in a more traditional form factor on-premise.”

When: Davies says UCaaS will eventually reach “the default point of optimization … where customers will be selecting (UC that’s adaptable) for the cloud even if they don’t implement for the cloud on Day One.” That point is “about a year or two away,” he says.

Why: Ultimately, customers will move to UCaaS for their own business reasons, not a vendor’s. So Davies advises vendors to offer flexibility, “rather than saying the cloud is one-size-fits-all, this is how you’re going to do it.”

How: “Very few organizations are going to switch to cloud in one fell swoop. It’s just not practical,” says Davies. He sees UCaaS unfolding as “a series of applications that transition to the cloud. And giving partners and customers the flexibility of doing it at the rate that makes sense for them is absolutely key.”

So Davies is telling UCaaS providers to be patient and laser-focused on user needs. But he’s also fairly bullish in predicting we’re just a year or two away from a key tipping point toward wider UCaaS adoption. Overall, it’s a pretty bright forecast for UC in the cloud.

Now, some brief history.

When I started writing about Mitel in the mid-1990s, I was 24, paying off my student loan and living above a laundromat. Terry Matthews was the hilarious, generous co-founder of Ottawa-based Mitel and its sister firm, Newbridge Networks.

Today I’m 43, paying off my mortgage and living (coincidentally) around the corner from a laundromat. Matthews is now the holder of two more titles: Sir Terry (thanks to the Queen) and billionaire (thanks to the $7 billion sale of Newbridge to French giant Alcatel-Lucent).

Although a lot has changed in two decades, I’m glad I still get to cover a tech firm Matthews founded – one that’s still in Canada and still a player in telecom.

For more on what the future looks like, download The Enterprise Collaboration eBook: A How-To Guide to Unified Communications, from Allstream.  

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