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Unified communications to hit $4.2B by 2014

Posted: 04 Dec 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:unified communications? IP telephony? communications market?

Unified communications, merging IP telephony, conferencing and collaboration, messaging and other forms of integrated information exchange, are on a steeply rising curve of adoption in the enterprise. This is according to an ABI Research report, which stated that that the market's size was just $302 million in 2008, but will rise to nearly $4.2 billion in 2014.

However the market is far from monolithic. "Companies have been buying only those component technologies that they think will deliver immediate value," says Stan Schatt, practice director at ABI. "It's only later that they start tying it all together as true unified communications."

Once that happens, synergies multiply: for example, many companies have messaging by voice and e-mail, but when they are integrated, a user can "see" voice mails and have e-mails read aloud. Such synergies can deliver increased productivity and efficiency, and greater customer satisfaction.

Big corporations with multiple locations will benefit most immediately from unified communications, but many vendors' systems are not interoperable. There are still gaps where no standards exist. Even the largest vendors such as Cisco don't make everything, so there's a premium on partnerships. A few vendors will try to sell end-to-end solutions, but most others will attempt to integrate their offerings with the legacy components they find. That opens a tremendous opportunity in replacing older equipment.

The largest companies may have the required integration expertise in-house, but, says Schatt, "We foresee a booming market for managed services, simply because unified communications are tricky and many companies won't want to spend the time and effort to do it themselves. That applies to the market as a whole, but particularly to smaller businesses."

Despite the large potential, unified communications vendors won't find it all plain sailing. They are up against internal corporate "turf wars," a widespread lack of understanding of the benefits unified communications can deliver, and a high initial cost.

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