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Predictions for Unified Communications in 2013

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It’s hard to believe the conclusion of 2012 is right around the corner. At ShoreTel, we believe the next two years will bring more change in the UC industry than any other time since the initial introduction of voice over IP. So where do we see unified communications heading in 2013?

To a certain degree, the unified communications industry is still in its infancy and in the coming year; cloud-based UC solutions will be on the rise and will become a viable solution for many businesses.

In the year(s) ahead, with the emergence of cloud-based UC solutions, customers will have the option of not only choosing between premise or cloud-based, but also the ability to combined the advantages of both if they so choose. These types of solutions are best known as hybrid and their adoption will increase significantly in the next year.

What will the hybrid solution look like in 2013?

The main goal is to have continuity across devices and provide the end user with an experience that is exactly the same no matter which channel they use. In the next few years, we’ll see additional applications, such as voicemail transcription or email-based fax services, available as cloud services.

We are well aware that with hybrid comes the need for administrators to give up a certain degree of control. But where is the dividing line? What functions will still belong to the administrator and which will belong to the cloud? That will be answered in the next 12-18 months.

Cloud computing is nothing new. It has been around for a long time; however the implementation of the technology has changed and will continue to change over the course of 2013. Hardware does not generate revenue, but it must seamlessly connect with the backend software. Like with Apple – the best user experience is when a vendor controls the hardware and the software together. ShoreTel is the only voice vendor to have the hardware and software and the cloud together. More companies will start to move in this direction.

Hybrid is the future.

With the emergence of cloud-based UC, adoption of hybrid solutions encompassing a combination of cloud and premise will significantly increase. In the next few years, we’ll see additional applications, such as voicemail transcription and email-based fax services, available as cloud services. Vendors that that offer hybrid solutions in 2013 will be better positioned for growth.

So BYOD? Nope. In 2013, it will be CYOD. With stats indicating that employee-owned devices will be compromised by malware at more than double the rate of corporate-owned devices, it’s not surprising why some companies are resistant to the BYOD trend. With employees wanting certain devices, but IT departments holding on to control for dear life, 2013 will bring a year of compromise. The practice of giving employees the ability to “choose their own device” instead of “bring their own device” will increase; which will satisfy security issues concerning the IT department and the desire of choice for employees.

The deskphone has been a mainstay for many years; however recent advancements have led to the integration of UC technology that provides more functionality for mobile employees. While the uptake in cloud-based solutions is on the rise, there is still a role for the deskphone and ShoreTel does not see it fading in the next year.

What are your thoughts on where we’re headed?