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Unified communications vendors and users continue consolidation

For unified communications vendors and users, consolidation is currently the name of the game. Unified communications vendors are consolidating via mergers and acquisitions, while users are looking to consolidate their overlapping services into one UC platform.

"We definitely see a lot of user consolidation," said Irwin Lazar, an analyst with Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. According to Nemertes, 43% of companies are looking to center their UC portfolios on a single, primary provider and its ecosystem. That percentage has continued to climb, Lazar said.

By consolidating UC products, organizations can improve the delivery of integrated services, cut the total cost of operation and relieve interoperability issues.

Unified communications vendors are also seeing their own version of consolidation. Team chat vendors, for instance, have been snapped up by the likes of BroadSoft, RingCentral and 8x8 Inc. According to some reports, Lazar said, some smaller unified communications vendors are making themselves available for sale.

"I expect you'll see the pure-cloud vendors starting to be targeted more," he said. "I expect you'll continue to see more vendor integration or acquisition over the next year."

In addition, Avaya's bankruptcy proceedings are a "wild card," Lazar said, as another vendor could buy pieces of Avaya's business. Mitel, too, could be on the acquisition hunt after its attempt to buy Polycom last year. 

In the video above, Lazar discussed industry consolidation among unified communications vendors and users. At Enterprise Connect 2017, he also dissected the current trends of UC analytics and artificial intelligence tools.

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Transcript - Unified communications vendors and users continue consolidation

We definitely see a lot of user consolidation. The latest research we published showed about 43% of companies were looking at taking their unified communications portfolio and centering it around a single primary provider and their ecosystem. That is a number that's continued to go up just because it's easier to deliver integrated services, lower total cost of operation, you don't have to worry about trying to get different vendors to work together. I think on the vendor side, I think you'll continue to see more consolidation. There have been reports of other vendors, some of the smaller vendors that have made themselves available for sale. You certainly had Mitel try and buy Polycom a year ago. They got cash to not buy them, so maybe they continue their acquisition stream. You've seen a lot of the team chat vendors get picked up, BroadSoft making an acquisition, RingCentral making one, 8x8 recently buying Sameroom for team chat federation. So I expect you'll see the pure cloud vendors starting to be targeted more. There's always that wild card of what happens with Avaya, how they come out of bankruptcy, if someone looks at buying pieces of them, or their services business, or what. But I expect you'll continue to see more vendor integration or acquisition over the next year.

Yeah, analytics is huge. What we find is companies really struggle with user adoption. They've made these investments in, say, Skype for Business or some other platform and then they're finding that people aren't using it or they're not using the features. So they come back and say, 'Why?' And so what they're looking at is how to identify what drives adoption. Is it the kinds of marketing that I do internally, the kinds of training? Are there business cases where I can demonstrate that? You know, one scenario we picked up in our research was a group that measured the use of video among salespeople and found the people who were using video to communicate with prospects had higher close rates than those that were not. So you begin to see that there are some real world ways that you can justify the use of these tools and build business cases around them. So mostly what we see is yeah, definitely performance management is key, but that's something that's been...people have been worrying about that for a long time. Now most of the analytics has been around, 'How do I optimize the experience? How do I identify why people are or are not using the tools, and how do I develop strategies to mitigate that?'

Yeah, I think the kind of interesting areas we're seeing with respect to AI with bots, with virtual reality, some of the other emerging kinds, voice controls like Siri, Alexa-type controls are definitely a year or two away. They're kinda cool to talk about now. I don't think the enterprise buyers have that real high on their list of priorities. In order to use a lot of those tools, you have to have already made that migration to a cloud platform, and we're still early on in that migration.

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