A recent survey of the unified communications landscape paints a picture of (modestly) rising spending on UC, with web, audio and videoconferencing on the rise, and cloud-based services coming on strong.
The IDG Enterprise Unified Communications & Collaboration Survey 2015 is based on an online survey of 653 responses from readers of IDG publications including Computerworld, CIO, CSO, InfoWorld and my former employer, Network World. (IDG is also the parent company of the research firm IDC, but IDC had no hand in this survey.) Respondents spanned a variety of vertical industries and company sizes, with the average company size weighing in at 15,416 employees and $6.4 billion in annual revenue. All of that gives the survey some credence, at least at the enterprise-level, as does its margin of error of 3.83% – not bad.
UC&C Spending is on the Rise – for Some
First, let’s talk money. Exactly one-third of respondents plan to increase spending on UC&C initiatives by an average of 9%. Another 48% will have flat budgets and only 3% plan a decrease.
It should be noted that to be eligible for the survey respondents had to be either already using Unified Communications and Collaboration technologies, or have plans to. That colors the spending question somewhat, given many of the companies had already shelled out for UC&C solutions, perhaps recently (the survey doesn’t provide that level of detail).
Web, audio and videoconferencing services top the list of technologies in which respondents are investing, noted by 47% of them. IP telephony calling and management come in next, at 44%, followed by e-mail, fax and voicemail, including unified messaging, at 42%. Videoconferencing shows up again at no. 5, coupled with telepresence, but this time for systems and equipment, not services. It was cited by 38% of respondents overall but 44% of those from companies with more than 1,000 employees.
In a separate question focused solely on telepresence, 58% of all respondents said their UC &C plans include the technology, although there’s no timeframe on the investment.
Respondents from larger companies are also quite interested in mobile UC&C hardware, software and applications. Forty-two percent of them cited it as an area of investment, vs. just 31% of respondents from companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.
UC&C Is Headed to the Cloud
If respondent plans hold true, precious few will be hosting all of their UC&C solutions on premises 2 years from now.
Today nearly half (49%) of respondents say 100% of their UC&C solution is hosted on their own premises and only 13% are 100% in the cloud. Another 29% use some form of hybrid, skewed either toward majority premises-based (22%) or cloud-based (7%).
But within 2 years, only 18% expect their UC&C solution will be 100% premises-based and 20% say it’ll be 100% cloud. Nearly half (47%) will be using a hybrid solution, split fairly evenly between majority premises-based (26%) and majority cloud (21%). The numbers vary somewhat depending on company size, but not dramatically.
UC&C Drivers and Deciders
In terms of what’s driving investments in UC&C technology, it’s all the usual suspects: improved employee collaboration, increased productivity, enabling a more mobile workforce, reduced travel costs and the like. Interestingly, those from smaller companies cited the mobile workforce item more often than those from larger firms, 38% to 29%. On the other hand, twice as many larger firms (30%) cited reducing travel costs as a driver as compared to smaller firms (15%). (Telepresence anyone?)
In terms of who’s involved in UC&C purchase decisions, at larger firms senior IT managers (CIO, VP IT) are involved more than two-thirds of the time (67%) vs. 62% for smaller companies. That actually seems low to me, as it means at nearly a third of large companies, and even more at smaller firms, senior IT management is not involved in such decisions. Hard to believe.
Involvement falls off rapidly from there, to IT/networking managers (VP, Director, Manager) at 43% for large firms and only 25% for those with fewer than 1,000 employees. Non-IT senior management (CEO, CFO, COO, CMO) is involved at 38% of large firms and 45% at smaller ones. Line of business managers are largely out of the loop altogether, involved at only 16% of large firms and 13% of smaller ones.
Those are the report highlights as I see them. Check out the full report here and use the comments below to let us know if you see things differently and how the findings square with your own UC&C plans.