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Maturation coming in the unified communications market

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For most businesses that had used unified communications prior to 2011, whether in the cloud or not, the focus has been on VoIP, instant messaging and presence solutions. According to a recent Channel Insider report, the past year has seen significant growth in the sector, as more businesses moved toward advanced UC capabilities, including video and mobility, to go along with their other investments in the technology.

This trend is expected to continue into the coming year, and 2012 will likely see a continued evolution of unified communications, the report said. This will lead to significant investments in the sector with more businesses turning to advanced UC capabilities to support more robust collaboration systems.

Rich Costello, senior research analyst for unified communications and enterprise communications infrastructure at IDC, told the news source the UC market will likely continue its current trajectory moving into 2012. Furthermore, the slow economic conditions will be unable to hold back video and mobile unified communications investments as more businesses recognize the considerable cost savings and operational gains offered by the technology.

"There seems to be a lot of discussion in 2011, in particular around [collaboration, mobility and video] as key drivers for UC, and obviously beyond 2011. We’re looking at the next phase of deployments for UC beyond the basic stuff like IP telephony, instant messaging, unified messaging," Costello told Channel Insider.

Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst at COMMfusion, told the news source the primary shift in unified communications will center around collaboration. Pleasant explained that UC is creating a new way for employees to communicate with each other, making collaboration a dominant force in the telephony market.

As unified communications solutions become more robust and capable of handling a more diverse range of capabilities, videoconferencing is experiencing significant gains. As one of the most advanced UC capabilities, videoconferencing was long held in the exclusive realm of executives. However, a recent InformationWeek report explained that videoconferencing is showing so many benefits that businesses are deploying it at more levels. Instead of simply delivering a return on investment by removing many travel costs, videoconferencing is also creating value in business continuity and productivity, industry analyst Andy Miller recently told analysts and reporters, according to the news source.