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Fundamental shift happening in unified communications market

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Historically, businesses approach unified communications technology as a collection of various technologies, including business phone services, videoconferencing, text messaging, email and other similar systems. In a recent Unified Communications Strategies report, industry expert Marty Parker explained that 2011 witnessed a significant ideological shift in the UC market.

According to Parker, a growing number of organizations are looking at unified communications technology as a platform that supports business processes instead of a basic collection of technologies.

"[The past year] displayed an evolving understanding of what unified communications is. Customers are increasingly savvy that UC is not just the assembly of technologies; rather, it is even more important for them to focus on what UC will do for their businesses and their governments and healthcare organizations and so forth. This is highly visible as the major vendors are now using the term 'collaboration' in their UC marketing, since collaboration is definitely a business process, not just a technology." Parker told the news source.

This shift to a focus on business processes instead of technology is also leading to changes in how vendors package and organize their services, Parker told Unified Communications Strategies. Instead of selling the UC platform as a basic collection of technologies, providers are increasingly tying the solution to a single collaboration process, whether it is email or PBX-related communications. This is leading to more feature-rich bundles aimed at specific organizational goals.

The unified communications industry is also focusing more toward the cloud than it has in past years. Throughout 2011, the shift to the cloud became clear, Parker told the news source. Over the course of the year, a variety of vendors began moving their services to the cloud in an effort to reach early adopters and businesses that are already working in the cloud and wanted to align their communications infrastructure with the rest of their operations.

As a whole, cloud computing has the same impact on business phone systems as it has on other enterprise capabilities. The cloud vendor hosts the hardware and foundational systems. In turn, the client simply rents space in that data center. This turns capital costs into operational fees and offers built-in disaster recovery systems because the hardware will stay up if a disaster hits the client's headquarters and puts its systems out of service.