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UC is dead, long live UC?

Unified communications will soon reach its “use by” date, and the next evolution of enterprise communications is around the corner, analysts say. But what exactly is coming next?

UC has reached maturity — in terms of language and technology — since entering the market in 2005 and will hit its “use by” date at the end of 2016, according to Art Schoeller, Forrester Research principal analyst.

“New things are happening today that redefine what we do with communication and collaboration,” he said in the webinar “Unified Communications and Collaboration Mash-Up: The Next Wave.”

UC’s maturity has reaped benefits for organizations that adopt UC technology. According to a Forrester report that surveyed 1,078 telecom decision makers, 91% saw improved team collaboration in their organization and 88% reported significantly faster problem resolution.

“It’s not the UC part that’s unique anymore, everyone is doing it,” said David Nuss, senior vice president of IT at real estate agency Cresa. It is how a vendor uses UC technology that will influence the next wave of enterprise communication and collaboration.

Vendors have started applying machine learning technology to their services to map interaction patterns and relationships, expanding on asynchronous communications to offer persistent collaboration workspaces, bridging asynchronous and synchronous communication through upcoming standards like WebRTC, and embedding UC into enterprise applications for real-time collaboration, Schoeller said.

Nuss discussed how Cresa needed to consolidate its disparate communication systems for a consistent employee and customer experience. The driver behind the consolidation was a cloud and mobile-first approach to communications that would be easy for IT to manage, lead to hard-dollar savings and support future communication needs.

Cresa chose RingCentral, the sponsor of the webinar, as its sole UC provider, which allowed the real estate firm to consolidate its 11 customer relationship management (CRM) services and 22 voice systems across the company’s locations.

“You name it, we had it,” Nuss said.

But the deciding factor for Cresa wasn’t that RingCentral simply offered the UC technology that the company needed, but what the vendor did with the technology — like integrating with Salesforce, analytics features and real-time collaboration.

Nuss said Cresa saw high adoption of its new UC system because of the system’s flexibility to allow individual users to customize the service to fit their needs while maintaining uniformity across the organization.

“Those are things you have to look at beyond just comparing dial tone, IM and video — what else are you going to need in the future?” Nuss noted. “Look at usability and efficiency for users when comparing platforms.”