Top UC predictions for 2013

Today, we have once again dusted off our crystal ball and offer our predictions for 2013. We'll cover the mobile voice, video and collaboration ecosystem; discuss the role Microsoft and Skype will play; and touch on our expectations about the evolution of unified communications for consumers.

1. Starting with the mobile ecosystem, we are pleased to announce that (as we have predicted for at least three years) we really and truly believe that we will start to see native VoIP offered on a large scale by mobile carriers in 2013. We admit that we've already seen some of this with "over the top models" such as Skype on mobile, with T-Mobile's Bobsled mobile app, and with the MetroPCS joyn service. But what we expect to see is VoIP/VoLTE start to displace mass market, legacy mobile voice infrastructures.

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2. We also expect to see 2013 bring continued demand for mobile video calling/mobile video conferences. And just for the record, we predict that in the next five to seven years we will see more mobile video minutes on carrier networks than mobile voice minutes.

3. When it comes to full-time mobile carrier support for "Rich Communication Services" (RCS) as the preferred infrastructure for global collaboration, we think the jury will still be out at the end of 2013.

4. We think that tablet computers will start to become mainstream for business collaboration in 2013, and not just another "nice to have." However, collaborations apps written specifically for tablets (especially document management) still need to be proven to make this happen.

5. Microsoft's Lync will continue to play an important role for many enterprise-grade unified communications deployments. And Microsoft 360 will also evolve as an optional solution for small businesses who want UC and collaboration features, especially when offered as an integrated package with carriers' managed services portfolios. But we also expect to see "something dramatic" happen with Skype integration involving Lync and 360 this year. We're not sure what that "something dramatic" is yet, but the timing just seems right following Microsoft's 2011 acquisition of Skype.

6. Finally, we offer our predictions on the consumerization of UC. (Those who may have missed our final 2012 newsletter on this topic may want to click here to read about it.) We think that landline voice providers will continue to enhance their VoIP services with presence management, but mobile services will still be lagging when it comes to offering the consumer a "unified experience." But if predictions one and two above come true, then consumer UC may become more than an "over the top" service option -- it may actually be integrated into carrier services.

As we have done for the last 13 years, we'll come back at the end of the year to see how well we did with our annual forecast. In the meantime, we wish all our readers a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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