Though unified communications has been around for the past 15 years, some believe that 2016 will see a whole new approach to UC — and with it a massive change in IT’s core function.
Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst of ZK Research, believes that while UC has historically failed to live up to the hype, the push toward usability and ease of deployment will force it into the mainstream this year.
“That’s the most salient point,” he said. “It’s been largely technology-driven, not driven by what the user actually needs.”
Ease of communication has historically been considered a difficult metric to measure, and thus a difficult problem to approach from an ROI perspective. The adoption of more advanced analytics tools, however, has helped build a use-case for UC that hadn’t existed previously.
“What you’ll see now — from both the traditional vendors and also start-ups, management vendors, things like that — is more of a focus around gathering data around utilization of tools, and they can use that to measure productivity,” said Kerravala.
If the top three tools that a sales team uses are chat, web conferencing and LinkedIn, for example, a company could use analytics to definitively say those who use those three tools sell X per cent more than those who don’t.
UC deployment and integration
Kerravala also believes 2016 will be the year UC takes off because of a shift in the way it’s now being built and deployed. Instead of a standalone application, developers now approach UC as an integrated function.
“If I’m in a current application and I want to send you a message, I should be able to do it within the app,” he said, adding that in a desktop-driven world, switching between applications is simple. “In the mobile world, having to switch between applications is very disruptive on the worker, so the shift to mobile combined with these development platforms makes UC much easier to use because it becomes an integrated part of what we do.”
Another key driver in what Kerravala believes will be wider-spread adoption of UC is the ease of use and deployment through cloud services. UCaaS, says Kerravala, will start to see greater adoption by line of business managers purchasing cloud-based services for specific purposes.
The evolution of the IT function
Kerravala explains that the evolution of UC is part of a more significant evolution within the IT function, one which will require managers and staff to think differently about their core responsibilities.
He says that the days of moving phones and configuring ports are quickly coming to an end. Instead, IT professionals will need to work alongside line of business managers on larger problems such as optimizing the cloud, data analytics and building financial models around usage of tools.
“IT administrators need to understand that their job will change now. The days of IT being purely about IT is rapidly coming to an end,” said Kerravala. “Understand that the world is changing; it’s becoming more mobile and cloud-driven, and they need to change along with it.”
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