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Key trends in UC: A look back at 2014, a look ahead at 2015

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2014 turned out to be another great year for Unified Communications (UC) with significant growth in cloud based systems and adoption of new technologies like BYOD.  As we approach the end of the year, it is interesting to see where we are today and how some of the key trends that are emerging will affect the communications of tomorrow. It is no secret that the pure PBX market is on the decline and more and more companies are holding off on new PBX systems and investing in unified communications and evaluating cloud.

The pace of technology change is accelerating. Some are predicting that technology will change more in the next 18 months than it has in the last 10 years! The role of IT is shifting from being a gate keeper to a productivity enabler – giving employees the tools to operate more productively, communicate and collaborate more effectively, and allowing users to be self reliant – in turn reducing their demands on IT resources. IT needs solutions that are flexible in order to respond to today’s ever changing business climate. They need to support the demands and configurations of today and tomorrow. With this in mind, there is an increasing adoption of cloud UC. Most major UC vendors are offering both hosted and cloud-based solutions as key components of their future growth strategy. Channel partners are also adjusting their strategies.

Mobility is a game changer and 2014 saw a lot of deployments of mobile collaboration applications and BYOD with the availability of LTE and high-speed mobile data. Video has always been a key feature of unified communications, available through traditional premises-based devices and room-based systems, but this year there were notable differentiators in that market with companies offering cloud-based video. Also this year saw more and more applications getting integrated with unified communications to offer productivity boosts for employees. These tools help with team collaboration and sharing to fully deliver on the promise of unified communications and business VoIP.

As we look to the future, some of these technology trends within unified communications will continue to gain traction.

Web Real-time Collaboration (WebRTC): Companies have already added, or are in the process of adding, this technology to products because of the business benefits it brings. As we move forward this technology will allow companies to collaborate faster within the UC environment.

Mobility and BYOD: With lightning speed data connections available through LTE networks, smart phones are fully equipped to allow employees to perform their jobs at the same level of agility when they are outside of the office as they would if they are in the office. This trend will continue to grow, and the applications on mobile devices will have huge impacts on productivity and company profitability in the future. The BYOD  trend will continue and allow users to integrate their personal tools into the work environment

Cloud-based Services: UC service from the cloud offerings will continue to grow. Adoption will continue to increase as more and more companies will look to outsource their unified communications solutions as these offers will eliminate the need for systems to be managed and maintained by IT; therefore eliminating the difficulties involved in deployment and time to service.

Application Integration: This will be a key area of focus for companies in the future not only to improve productivity but also to cut costs. This trend will continue with the integration applications that support social media with unified communications to help provide a seamless interaction.

2014 has been a busy year and the unified communications market will continue to grow in 2015 as companies tailor technology that can be used for both work and consumer purposes.

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