Communication Endpoints – Predictions for 2019
What can we expect to see in the UC endpoints market this year?
2019 looks as though it’s going to be another crucial year for the communication industry.
From every angle, new technology is stepping further into the spotlight, introducing employees and business leaders alike to a workplace, unlike anything we’ve seen before. 5G is opening the door for a new brand of mobility, while VR and AR deliver new possibilities for immersive interactions that overcome geographical borders. Even our headsets are more intelligent today than they’ve ever been.
As we move into 2019, it’s important not to overlook the endpoints that are furnishing the workspaces of the future, and what they’ll mean to our continued growth. Here are some of my predictions for how endpoints will evolve this year.
Softphone Deployments Continue to Grow
While I think that rumours about the death of desk phones have been seriously exaggerated, it’s difficult to ignore the increasing popularity of the softphone. According to one study by Credence Research, businesses are increasingly drawn to flexible, packaged UC solutions which feature a versatile softphone experience.
One of the most obvious trends driving a continued demand for softphones this year is the overwhelming need for more mobility in the workforce. Today’s team members don’t just need the freedom to work from wherever they choose; they also need to know that they’re not tethered to their desk. The latest research on mobility shows that it can lead to up to 23% more productivity and 100% more satisfied employees.
Competition Heats Up for SIP Vendors
SIP has been on the rise for some time now. You could argue that the switch from ISDN to SIP trunks is one of the biggest transformational concepts that the communication space has seen for decades. Already, research shows that 98% of all phone systems have SIP capability as of 2018, and SIP trunks are used by around 70% of all businesses.
As demands for flexibility increase, the “open” SIP space is the place to be for market leaders. Avaya has just approached the playing field, joining giants like AudioCodes, SNOM, Yealink, Grandstream, and Polycom. Plenty more are set to fight for differentiation in the year ahead – the question is how they’re going to stand out. Some brands, like AudioCodes, are relying on highly-secure solutions with built-in features like WebRTC support. Other companies may depend on differentiation through collaboration with new innovators.
More Endpoint Options Enter the Market
The headset and handset aren’t the only contenders for endpoint glory anymore. Wearable popularity is expanding at a rapid rate, appearing in the office, on smartwatches, and even in connected cars. Jabra recently released a pair of wireless earbuds for business operations, and countless companies are exploring the opportunities of VR and AR goggles. Just imagine sitting in your next meeting with a VR headset showing you your colleagues. Gartner believes that mixed reality is set to change the way that we interact with the business world in 2019.
Wearables aren’t just novel concepts either – they’re genuinely useful. According to a recent PwC survey, 49% of respondents said that wearing “wearable” technology in the workplace improves efficiency. It appears everyone is on board for a more immersive meeting experience.
Plantronics and Polycom will Announce a New Brand
In 2018, two behemoths in the endpoint space came together. Plantronics and Polycom have always been powerful presences in the communication industry, and now they have the potential to achieve so much more as a duo. Already, the two companies are working together to deliver more compelling, yet architecturally simple solutions for endpoint devices.
However, the two organisations are likely to refine their identity this year by introducing a new brand that they can build together. I’m excited to see what the lovechild of Polycom and Plantronics looks like.
Plantronics Releases the Habitat Soundscape
Speaking of Plantronics, they’re certainly continuing their pattern of innovation in the endpoint market. During 2018, the company revealed the new “Habitat Soundscaping” system. This innovative endpoint solution is designed to transform workspaces into a more productive, stress-free environment for employees.
When placed throughout the office, your soundscape will create a spatial audio experience that immerses your staff members into a more relaxing atmosphere, complete with focus-boosting sounds like waterfalls, birds tweeting and more. You can even create your soundscape to match your visual environment so that the standard office feels less like a boring “box,” and more like a creative hub. Could the soundscape be another good reason to keep plastic phones on your desk in the future?
Yealink Continue to Disrupt
Yealink proved itself to be a serious contender once again in the endpoint market throughout 2018. As one of the leading providers of communication and collaboration solutions, Yealink has begun to step on the toes of Polycom’s market share, and we’re bound to see the trend continue in 2019.
Within the last 3 years, Yealink has accomplished some incredible things, successfully growing it’s IP desktop shipments to CAGR of 24.7% for instance and achieving a growth rate of 50.4% in 2017. Currently, Yealink is responsible for shipping more phones in the open SIP market than any other contender. In 2018, Yealink won the Frost & Sullivan Growth Excellence Leadership Award. In 2019, continued success could mean that Yealink achieves new heights in the SIP space.
Cisco Works to Sway BroadSoft Resellers Away from Third Parties
Since Cisco successfully completed its acquisition of BroadSoft in 2018, we’ve seen some significant changes to the newly combined company. Before the acquisition, both businesses had fairly competitive portfolios to offer. Together, both BroadSoft and Cisco hope to deliver something truly disruptive to the communication and endpoint markets.
To help drive growth forward, Cisco will be making moves to pull their existing BroadSoft resellers away from third-party endpoints and convince them to use internal hardware instead. We can only wait and see whether pricing bundles and innovative room solutions like the WebEx Room kit mini will be successful in the long-term.
MZA Say the Headset Market will Attract New Players
Finally, industry analysts MZA have suggested that the growth of the headset market will attract new players in 2019, particularly from innovators ready to implement new and disruptive technology. We may see that new forms of wearables begin to change the office environment once again and play a part in the future development of headsets as we know them.
Personally, I’d rather stick with my in-ear solution over a headset, but that’s just my personal preference. There are plenty of people out there who feel the other way. What do you think you’ll be wearing this time next year?
How do you feel about my predictions for the endpoint market? Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below!