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Enterprise Communications Trends

As we have just concluded the 1st week of 2012, I can’t help but reflect on the contrasting differences between the start of 2011 and 2012.  It appears that 2012 is starting in a cautiously more optimistic note compared to 2011. The proliferation of Unified Communications, Videoconference, Telepresence, Cloud and Managed Services within the enterprise domain sets up 2012 for continuous growth through quantifiable ROIs and expansion towards the SMB space.

Among the key 2011 predictions, the pundits called for:

  • The year Unified Communications would truly be defined through proliferation within the enterprise and true ROI established
  • SIP Trunking adoption would continue to redefine enterprise communications architecture
  • The year Videoconference/Telepresence would see adoption
  • The year of cloud computing
  • The year of mobile applications and media tablets
  • The continued change to the enterprise by Social Networking and Collaboration
  • And more…

In-spite of the timid start to the 2011 economic climate particularly within planned enterprise expenditures, many predictions for enterprise communications came to fruition, as exemplified from Fierce Enterprise Communication’s article by Jim O-Neill:

  • Videoconferencing growth that showed a 20.3% spike in Q3, 2011 and a continued compound annual rate of 19% through 2015.
  • Unified Communications realized ROI established by over 75% of organizations
  • Cloud brought about options for vendors and customers to change their entire cost, delivery, operations, maintenance and productivity methodology
  • Mobile applications and tablets have changed the dynamics of enterprise IT control over the network
  • Contact Centers have changed the dynamics of customer interactions by utilizing all forms of customer touch points from Social Networking to Videoconferencing.

As we start 2012, it’s interesting to review the potential technology evolutions that can impact enterprise communications, and in my opinion it’s evident that both mobile and video will continue to define the major changes to the enterprise:

Videoconference and Telepresence – Similar to Unified Communications, large enterprises will continue their adoption into videoconferencing and Telepresence provide real returns in investments. However, as we see further development into lower cost videoconferencing solutions, we will see videoconferencing technologies available to both the non C-Level executives and SMB market space that can provide true returns in productivity. Furthermore, we will see the adoption of Video to contact center solutions as another touch point to the consumer.

Unified Communications – While large enterprises made advancements in migrating their communications infrastructure to adopt UC, we will see more cost effective UC solutions available for the SMB markets space. Albeit, the industry must do a better job in defining the ROI for the SMB to create a catalyst for change.

Cloud – 2011 was definitely the year of the cloud, however as virtualization and cloud solutions are further adopted for real-time communications such as Video, the challenge for Cloud providers will be to ensure sufficient bandwidth and quality. The migration from a LAN based application to a cloud hosted application will create usability changes and to ensure little impact to users, IT and Cloud providers will have to ensure the perceived quality is similar. As applications continue to migrate towards Cloud based  offerings, we will see more applications that are also optimized for Cloud based delivery.

Mobile – The IT organization will continue to grasp the loss of application control as employees utilize iOS devices within the network. Since there is evidence that iOS devices are the preferred mobile technology by enterprise employees, the rumors of Microsoft creating an iOS based Office Application will leap the iPAD into a more effective producing device that will exasperate the IT dilemma. Conversely, enterprise employees will face a paradigm change in enterprise communications as more IT organizations look towards mobile VoIP and IP soft phones to replace the physical phone device.

Session Based Communications – We hope to see 2012 be the year of more session based applications for real time communications. This would mean more disparateproducts and manufacturers provide off-the-shelf solutions for session based interactions between devices.

Enterprises must review their internal strategies for managing the continued changes towards communications to mitigate complexity of multiple manufacturers, migration process and production operations. Similarly, Companies offering Remote Managed Services solutions may require additional partnerships and technologies to meet the growing enterprise needs and competitive advantages.

We look forward to the opportunities from the continued evolution of our industry in 2012.