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UC milestones in 2012: Enterprise collaboration tools

Mobility played a large role in the enterprise collaboration tools market in 2012, as vendors offered flexibility and better use cases.

In 2012, vendors of enterprise collaboration tools strove to provide users a consistent experience across desktops, tablets and smartphones as enterprise mobility expanded. As delivery models for collaboration tools have evolved, so must their licensing models, according to Bill Haskins, senior analyst for Duxbury, Mass.-based Wainhouse Research LLC.

For our year-in-review unified communications (UC) milestones series, Haskins gave us his take on the changes enterprise collaboration tools experienced in 2012.

Collaboration tools must be available anytime, anywhere

Cisco and Avaya both responded to mobility in 2012 by offering their respective collaboration "experiences," Jabber and Flare, across any user device, Haskins said. Microsoft will be playing catch-up with mobility features in 2013, but announced that its next-generation Lync experience will include new iOS, Android, and Windows mobile clients.

"Enterprises are still trying to figure out how to actually unify everything … into their collaboration platforms," Haskins said, whether on the desktop or a mobile device.

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Even though users want all their collaboration features in one place, many companies are still not using every UC feature available from their enterprise collaboration tools. Rather than bogging users down with unfamiliar features -- like video, desktop sharing, instant messaging (IM) and presence -- Microsoft has begun by making it possible to embed telephony in its Lync collaboration platform. Users can start by taking advantage of familiar voice features and being able to grow into other collaboration features, all from one platform.

In 2012, vendors started expanding their offerings beyond traditional collaboration tools and tying them into enterprise communications and social media tools. "In order to stick, collaboration tools have to go past IM and presence moving forward -- they have to eventually be relied on for audio, video and telephony," Haskins said. "Once they are in with all of these features, they will be very hard to replace."

Licensing and bundling enterprise collaboration tools

Collaboration licensing models experienced a shake-up in 2012, as traditional hardware vendors -- like Avaya, Cisco and Siemens -- tried to eliminate adoption barriers.

Cisco's Jabber originally required a separate license on top of Cisco's CallManager, but now the license is bundled with other foundational UC products, Haskins said. "Companies don't have to consciously decide to buy it -- with CallManager, enterprises can simply turn on Jabber as their IM client," he said.

Collaboration vendors will continue to simplify licensing models in 2013 because enterprises want "to make it easier for users to have access to all UC and collaboration features," Haskins said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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