Frost and Sullivan’s forecast for the North American Hosted IP Telephony and Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) market indicated growth of over 30 percent in 2016, with a similar growth rate continuing into 2023. As this growth continues, there will be several trends that emerge throughout the coming year. Some of these include a shift in market composition, technological advancements, a need for customized collaboration tools and a greater use of microservices.
Growing Confidence in UCaaS by Large Enterprises
In previous years, growth in the UCaaS market has been primarily sustained by smaller enterprises. Going forward, there is likely to be a shift in growth in the large enterprise market segment. This shift is coming about as larger enterprises are recognizing the reliability and flexibility of UC cloud-based systems. They are also realizing that improvements in security and scalability combined with lowered overall cost of implementation make UCaaS very appealing for deployment in their organizations.
Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide, indicated a growing confidence in successful, larger-scale UCaaS deployments. The report advises that: “UcaaS capabilities now exceed those available from premises-based UC. The pace of UCaaS innovation is accelerating as vendors focus R&D resources on cloud delivery.” And as other cloud-based infrastructure technologies like software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) continue to make improvements in speed and efficiency, the appeal of UCaaS will steadily rise.
Voice Assistants for the Enterprise
Voice assistants have gained momentum in the consumer market, with a recent report estimating that 55 percent of U.S. households will have a voice assistant installed by the year 2022. But the use case for businesses is also growing by leaps and bounds. Similar to the way in which smartphones began as consumer tools and evolved into BYOD tools for the business world, voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Cisco’s Spark are becoming tools for enterprises as well.
In fact, Alexa for Business was introduced by Amazon Web Services about two months ago, with the goal of relieving employees of tedious, repetitive and basic tasks like checking calendars and re-ordering supplies. Around the same time, Cisco introduced Cisco Spark Assistant, a voice-controlled interface for Cisco Spark meeting hardware. This new functionality will allow enterprise users to give Spark a voice command to turn up the volume, join a meeting, invite users, and more. As business applications for voice assistants and associated AI-based technology continue to evolve, we’re likely to see them implemented in a wider variety of UCaaS functions. Some examples could include: accessing corporate data for a meeting; taking meeting notes; or proactively offering advice during team collaboration sessions – the possibilities are almost limitless!
Comprehensive and Customizable Team Collaboration
In 2018, the implementation of flexible UCaaS for collaboration and workspaces will become increasingly important. For individuals working in an office environment - whether onsite or remote – their average day consists of an ongoing exchange of data through chat sessions, email and file sharing. This workflow requires a comprehensive UCaaS solution to unify and optimize interactions amongst co-workers and vendors alike.
And while many users work from a single location, others in service industries are continually on the move, requiring a UCaaS solution that can “go with the flow.” In this scenario, UCaaS mobile apps and web interfaces will need to be customized to maximize workflow for these types of users. So, again, demand will drive the need for comprehensive, productive, yet flexible and customizable UCaaS solutions across enterprises in the foreseeable future.
West’s Cisco Spark offer is an example of a complete and flexible UCaaS solution for all types of enterprises, across all industries. It offers mobile, desktop and web-accessible messaging, secure file sharing, instant meetings, voice, video and content sharing, plus, superior calling options. Whether the collaboration need is big or small, Cisco Spark can be tailored to meet your businesses’ specific needs.
Using Microservices to Improve UCaaS Innovation
Software development guru, Martin Fowler, defines the microservice architectural style as “an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API.”
While this concept is not new, its scalability for unified communications in the Cloud will help drive the speed of UCaaS implementations in years to come. Microservices will foster faster innovation – allowing functional integrations for industries like healthcare, retail and education – in less time and at a lower cost of implementation.
West already provides access to APIs that can interface and integrate with its Cisco products. As the use of microservices rises, the industry is likely to see innovation in the area of Internet of Things (IoT), as well as improvements in collaboration, mobile and analytical and reporting tools. The use of microservices and APIs should help increase efficiencies across enterprises, and see UCaaS solutions reach their full potential for improved productivity and effectiveness.
If you’re an enterprise considering a UCaaS implementation in the coming year, there’s no better time than now to pull the trigger. With improvements in voice assistant AI, enhancements in team collaboration tools and innovations found via microservices, there’s bound to be a UCaaS solution that is perfect for your organization.
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