A Year of Unified Communications Transition

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The State of Unified Communications Adoption

Survey finds Microsoft and Cisco, followed by Avaya, are driving the majority of the market.

It's hard to say that any one year is the seminal event in the history of unified communications (UC). Much like the evolution of the LAN technologies that UC depends on, it is going to take about a decade for mainstream UC adoption to play out across the enterprise.


Assuming that we're about to enter the sixth year of the cycle, that would make 2011 a year of transition. In fact, if we consider 2010 to be a year where many of the fundamental technology issues were addressed, then 2011 should be the beginning of a series of cultural adjustments that will need to be made as UC becomes more of an everyday business tool.


In terms of business culture, Eric Schoch, senior director of product management in Cisco's voice technology group, says the biggest impact will come from video. He expects that some users will find it difficult to adjust to the use of video as an everyday business communications tool. But as video becomes a bigger part of the consumer experience on the Web, more people will grow comfortable with using video at work.


Schoch says that in addition to video, 2011 will be remembered as the year UC came to the cloud. That means that instead of deploying UC as an on-premise offering, many customers will opt for a service that is delivered to them by any one of a number of potential providers. There are still interoperability issues that need to be worked out, concedes Schoch, but many customers will still find value in UC as a service delivered via a common set of technologies from a single vendor.


Other UC trends, says Schoch, that will play out in 2011 include a much greater use of UC on mobile computing platforms, especially once we see more convergence of cellular and WiFi networks.


Schoch also says that customers should expect to see presence applications become something akin to a feature and that there will be a lot more blurring of the lines between corporate and consumer UC technologies.



In short, 2011 could be a transformative year for UC. It may not be the definitive year, but it most certainly will be a year where we see UC going from something that a lot of people talk about to something they actually do.



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