Welcome to our UC Insights Series for 2018

We talk to some of the UC industry's leaders about the last year and what's to come in 2018

Welcome to our UC Insights Series for 2018

‘Tis the season for celebrations, decorations, and speculations on the future of Unified Comms. Now that 2017 is quickly drawing to a close, and 2018 is just around the corner, the crew at UC Today thought it was a good idea to speak to some of the industry’s finest about the year we’re leaving behind, and the one that lies ahead.

It’s fair to say that we’ve seen a lot of activity in the UC space during 2017, with disruption happening around every corner. Analysts predict that the UC market will triple in size in the years ahead, up to a value of $96 billion by the end of 2023. From new entrants into the field like Amazon and LogMeIn to changes to big-name brands like Avaya, Cisco, and Mitel, there’s plenty to talk about as we prepare for 2018.

So, what are the buzzwords and hot topics to be aware of as we count down the days until the new year?

Digital Transformation and the Age of Customer Experience

One of the key areas we’ll be looking at during our UC Insights Series is user experience, and the drive for digital transformation. Both topics are crucial terms and essential elements on any CIO’s priority list. As we move into 2018, vendors around the world will be looking for ways to differentiate themselves with better digital solutions, stronger portfolios, and carefully-set strategies for customer satisfaction.

Part of this journey will involve looking at the collaboration market, where connectivity between groups has emerged as a must-have for the enterprise space. Microsoft formalised their decision to integrate Skype for Business into Teams this year, and we’re sure to see the results of that move in 2018. At the same time, countless other vendors have continued to develop their own collaboration applications, seeking new ways of differentiating themselves.

At the same time, as new strategies for customer satisfaction emerge, and prompt companies to invest in broader portfolios, brands will need to look at methods for refining their digital strategies in a year that’s defined by security and privacy. With GDPR‘s deadline looming in May, we can expect to see plenty of UC providers, platforms, vendors, and service providers creating formal statements and features around privacy rulings.

The Changing State of Communication

2017 hasn’t just been a time for companies to think about improving customer journeys and expanding their portfolio, it’s also been a year where we’ve started to address the versatile nature of unified Comms.

Hybrid Cloud UC is quickly gathering speed as a potential deployment option for large enterprises

Integrated video conferencing system

HD quality integrated video conferencing units aim to recreate the experience of having remote participants present in the meeting room,

who want to dip their toes into the world of cloud communications. After all, many big businesses have placed significant investment into their legacy platforms, and 2018 will be the year that they need to start deciding whether to move completely to a UCaaS model or deploy hybrid solutions instead.

Video has also emerged as a powerful component in this evolving industry. While the hardware market remains relatively flat, video calls are now a popular way to improve engagement between teams and deliver more immersive communications. Part of the reason for this is that vendors have deployed cloud solutions for video, while another factor could be the upcoming possibilities of 5G, combined with a higher accessibility in fibre broadband. We’re keen to see if the rise of video sparks new consolidations for 2018.

As companies look for new ways to craft the “ideal” UC solution, we’ve also seen a huge drive towards APIs and CPaaS for the modern CIO. Market leaders like Twilio have officially found their place and begun to grow their revenue. The features and solutions you can build on these customisable platforms are phenomenal, and if you don’t have APIs in your platform for 2018, then you probably won’t be the vendor of choice for those exploring the cloud and upgraded communications.

Disruptive Technology in 2018: AI, IOT, AR, and VR

Using Cisco Spark VR

During 2017, companies throughout the UC environment have begun to experiment with their options in everything from virtual reality, to the Internet of Things. As 2018 draws closer, it will be interesting to see how these technologies grow. Already, we have Cisco implementing VR with Spark, contact centres building AI into their platforms, and businesses using IoT to connect devices in real time.

There’s even been a significant rise in the presence of “voice assistants” like Google, Cortana, Alexa, and Siri. Though we’ve seen plenty of action from these concepts in the consumer space, they’ve been somewhat slower to emerge in the business space. Yet, according to experts like Scott Hoffpauir, the CTO of BroadSoft, these strategies could have incredible potential when it comes to boosting productivity in the UCaaS space.

BroadSoft says “We foresee that in 2018, the first generation of business voice assistants will be put through their paces, at least in trials – by leading suppliers and early adopter enterprises.”

The Case for Consolidation

Of course, there’s also been plenty of growth and consolidation in the marketplace from some of the industry’s biggest vendors. Mitel purchased ShoreTel in 2017, and we can only wait and see who they snap up next. After all, it’s only a matter of time before they continue their buy and build strategy.

Avaya entered Chapter 11 this year and may leave again by the time we hit 2018, meaning that we’ll be seeing the growth of a whole new company in the year ahead.

Even Cisco did their part to blow the marketplace away in 2017 by purchasing BroadSoft. Universally, this seems like a particularly smart move for the brand, as it gives them access to the SMB market and the service provider customers that BroadSoft has gathered globally over the years. We can’t wait to see how this all pans out in 2018.

Explore All the Trends with Our UC Insights Series

Looking at all the trends we’ve outlined above, and the countless other issues that CIOs, vendors, businesses, channel partners, and customers are facing this year, and in the year ahead, it seems safe to say that we’ve officially entered the age of digital transformation.

Our UC Insights Series for 2018 is your chance to catch up on some of the best advice, and tips from leading brands around the world, while looking back over the challenges and lessons the industry has tackled in 2017.

Here, you’ll see what vendors have seen from their time in the marketplace, and learn what you should be considering as a reseller, channel partner, service provider, or customer in the changing UC environment.

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