The unified communications market is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, fueled in no small part by cloud-based UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) offerings which are finding favor among organizations of all sizes, but especially smaller ones.
BroadSoft Sees UCaaS Growth Across All Sectors
First up, BroadSoft. The company provides a platform that service providers use to offer UCaaS offerings to end customers. At its annual user conference last fall, it queried “129 global service provider and industry leader respondents” who were in attendance. Keeping in mind that attendees are, for the most part, service providers looking to offer UCaaS services, you can look at their responses in at least a couple of ways.
The first is these folks are on top of the UC market and know what they’re talking about. Another is that they have a deeply vested interest in the UC market and may be wearing rose-colored glasses. Some combination of the two is also quite possible.
At any rate, these folks are bullish indeed on prospects for the UCaaS market. The number of new UCaaS or Hosted PBX lines shipped will increase nearly six times over the next 5 years, marking a shift away from premise-based UC systems. On average, 41% of companies will be using UCaaS or Hosted PBX services by 2020, vs. 7% today, according to BroadSoft.
Here’s how BroadSoft survey respondents expect usage will break down in 2020 across market segments (vs. current BroadSoft estimates):
- Small businesses (<100 employees): 48% (10% today)
- Midmarket business segment (100 – 999 employees): 37% (5% today)
- Large enterprise segment (1,000+ employees): 20% (6% today)
Respondents also expect UC to become increasingly mobile, with 42% of respondents expecting that more than half of all UC interactions will occur via mobile devices by 2020. Of course mobile UC is an issue we’ve been talking about for some time and it does appear the stars are aligning for some real growth there; in fact, that was one of my 2016 UC predictions.
Another interesting finding is that survey respondents expect over-the-top (OTT) team messaging and collaboration applications to largely displace email. Such applications will be deeply integrated with UC and business applications (another of my predictions), making email largely extraneous. A robust 82% of survey respondents expect OTT integrated messaging and collaboration applications to displace email, while only 18% feel email will remain the primary business-messaging tool.
PWC Predicting Steady UC Growth
For its survey, PWC UK surveyed some 400 small and medium business (SMBs) in the UK, defined as companies with 10 to 1,000 employees.
It found the market for UC and collaboration (UC&C) will grow at an “impressive pace” of 11% per year through 2018. By comparison, the overall telephony market, while far larger overall, is growing at just 2% per year, PWC says.
Hosted UCaaS services, which account for 38% of the UC market, are expecting to grow even faster, at 14% per year through 2018. As in the BroadSoft survey, PWC found UCaaS offerings are particularly well-suited to SMBs, with 39% of respondents saying they were already inclined towards the hosted model, at least partly.
Interestingly, WebRTC also appears to be of interest to SMBs in the UK. More than three quarters of respondents report they are aware of the technology and either already use it or plan to within the next 12 months.
PWC Looks Ahead to the UC World in 2020
Some of the most interesting findings, however, are respondent expectations for the state of UC in the year 2020. (Not to digress, but it’s scary to think the year 2020 is less than 5 years away. Seems like that whole Y2K thing was just a couple of weeks ago.)
By 2020, respondents to the PWC survey expect:
- Nearly 100% penetration of UC in their companies, including a mix of UC 1.0 (telephony-focused) and 2.0 (multimedia IP-based)
- The smartphone to be ‘king’ – the primary communications device across their businesses. Desk phones will either be gone entirely or replaced by ‘smarter’ phones offering seamless integration and content sharing between the smartphone and the desktop/laptop
- A “cloud-first” universe, where the vast majority of service provision is hosted and managed remotely.
- VoIP: tried, tested and “now trusted,” with markedly improved quality and reliability thanks to real-time traffic management enabled by the first wave of software defined network deployments.
How does that square with your vision for UC in 2020? Any predictions of your own? Let us know in the comments below.