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Mobile, cloud to change unified communications next year

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As the new year approaches, companies around the world are trying to get a headstart on 2013 by developing plans to implement the most advanced collaboration tools. Unfortunately, since the telecommunications industry is constantly shifting, even analysts are having a tricky time determining what should be prioritized next year.

In a recent blog post, Frost & Sullivan analyst Elka Popova said the macroeconomic crisis is having a monumental impact on the unified communications and collaboration industry and should prepare decision-makers for an uphill battle next year. Nevertheless, there are significant changes happening in the unified communications landscape that will help the market progress, despite financial obstacles.

Video conferencing, VoIP phone services and other critical unified communications applications are maturing and providing users with more substantial benefits than they did in the past, Popova said. Since these solutions are evolving at a rapid rate, it is becoming harder to disrupt innovation, as each business races to adopt the most advanced offerings.

Still, encountering challenges within the unified communications landscape is virtually inevitable.

The consumerization conundrum

The proliferation and rapid development of smartphones, tablets and other next-generation devices is one of the most important concerns decision-makers need to address in 2013, Popova asserted. As consumer electronics continue maturing, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs will be implemented more frequently and without much resistance. This will lead to new problems.

A separate report by Gartner also highlighted the growing importance of BYOD, noting that it is widely considered one of the most radical shifts in enterprise operations since the introduction of the personal computer.

"With the wide range of capabilities brought by mobile devices, and the myriad ways in which business processes are being reinvented as a result, we are entering a time of tremendous change," said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Unfortunately, many companies are not taking the right management approach to mobility and are experiencing substantial issues, Popova noted. If an organization fails to accept the inevitability of BYOD, it will find itself struggling to stay secure when employees choose to use personal gadgets without permission.

New and improved delivery models

Popova also said the cloud is becoming increasingly incorporated into communication strategies, providing enterprises and small businesses alike new opportunities to improve accessibility and quality of service without overburdening IT budgets.

A separate study by ABI Research noted more than 41 percent of organizations will be using cloud-based communications by 2016. Analysts said the traditional premise-based market is only forecast to grow 4.3 percent through 2016, while cloud communications will expand by more than 21 percent.

"Enterprise mobilization is also driving migration to the cloud," said Dan Shey, practice director at ABI Research. "Cloud applications ease application delivery for businesses that are increasingly relying on access across fixed and mobile endpoints."

As cloud technologies continue to evolve and IT departments become more familiar with securing the virtual environments, decision-makers need to come to grips with the fact that the cloud will relentlessly change the current communication industry.

Executives that want to remain competitive in today's increasingly cutthroat private sector need to consider preparing next-generation initiatives regarding the cloud and advanced mobile devices. If businesses fail to adapt to these innovations, their unified communications systems will not be as effective as they could be, resulting in lower productivity rates and unsatisfied workers - both of which can annihilate financially unstable organizations.