Unified Communications Grows Bigger and Broader

Carl Weinschenk

Unified communications (UC) is one of the most interesting categories in enterprise communications because its definition more or less tracks with the very evolution of general telecom tools that steadily emerge. More simply – by way of example – video is an emerging UC tool. However, just about everyone uses Skype or a similar service. UC vendors thus have to simultaneously keep up with the more general technology while creating their own niche.

Thus, it makes sense to follow the category carefully. One of the biggest pieces of recent news was the announcement last month that Mitel had agreed to acquire Polycom, one of the highest profile companies in the field, for $1.96 billion.

This week, however, the road to the deal got a bit windy. eWeek reports that Polycom filed documents with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that said a private equity firm – it was not named – had revised its offer and the new one may be better than Mitel’s. The piece offers Mitel’s side of the story – why it thinks its offer is superior – and background on the deal.

The outcome of the battle for Polycom is being waged on a battle field that is getting bigger. Gary Eastwood at UC Insight focuses on the fact that the market is growing. He looks at a study by Global Market Insights that says that the UC market will increase from $34.8 billion last year to more than $95 billion by 2023. The main driver will be enterprise mobility resulting from bring your own device (BYOD) adoption. User goals include workforce efficiency and long-term cost savings.

The unified communications market is forecast to grow from $34.8 billion in 2015 to over $95 billion by 2023, according to a new report from Global Market Insights. The market will be driven by growing enterprise mobility due to BYOD adoption, it says, which itself will exceed $365 billion in revenue by 2023. Thirty-five percent of the market is in North America, with Asia Pacific expanding most rapidly with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 percent from this year to 2023.

The drivers are varied. PCR, a site in the United Kingdom, offers a commentary by Russell Lux, the CEO of TelcoSwitch. Lux looks at what he sees as three drivers of the current UC sector to which the channel – the folks who sell the products – should take heed.

He writes that “low touch” sales are on the decline. There are more choices as UC’s mandate increases. Therefore, more handholding is necessary. The second trend is one that is growing. It is getting larger and, perhaps more importantly, it is getting more varied. The final trend that Lux points to is “soft phones” – an application that enables a desktop, laptop or workstation computer to function as a telephone – are replacing hardware.

UC is a vital and interesting field. It clearly is one that is growing in size and mandate. That suggests that the winner in the battle for Polycom will be well positioned for the future.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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