It seems nowadays the answer to all things IT is "cloud." This is certainly true in the unified communications market, where a variety of services -- including telephony; audio, video and web conferencing; team messaging; and file sharing and authoring -- are available as cloud-based UC as a service. The IT leaders we at Nemertes Research work with struggle to determine an ideal cloud and unified communications strategy, one that balances cloud's benefits, like reducing capital costs; provides faster access to new collaboration capabilities; and frees up internal resources to focus on strategic tasks that ensure optimal performance and information protection.
Nemertes finds continued momentum behind a unified communications strategy centering on UCaaS adoption, no doubt because the benefits so often outweigh the drawbacks. By late 2018, we estimate about 56% of organizations will be using UCaaS for telephony, with more using cloud-based email and web conferencing services.
The rapid rise of available UCaaS offerings has led to a great deal of market confusion. Some providers offer a full suite of UC features that enable customers to replace existing phone and UC platforms. Others provide narrower functionality. Vendors in a crowded market are trying to differentiate themselves from competitors. All this creates challenges for IT buyers attempting to pick the ideal available service for both current requirements and anticipated future need.
To succeed, IT leaders must take time to understand the varieties of UCaaS, including service delivery models like hosted and pure cloud. They must understand how providers build platforms and what that means for speed of innovation, reliability, security, customizability and cost. Knowing how to best integrate UC as a service with existing business applications, governance models and endpoint strategies is also key. Taking the time upfront to craft a careful unified communications strategy will pay long-term benefits, as it will ensure that you select the right service.