We’ll wrap up our 2013 year-in-review today by looking at the unified communications (UC) ecosystem highlights that were not necessarily tied to specific company or product announcements.
Before the end of January, we saw the first of many announcements on teaming --with a video partnership between AT&T and Polycom intended to personalize, mobilize and virtualize video meetings. This partnership’s goals proved prophetic for many such 2013 activities—with announcements from dozens of companies that focused on personalization, mobility, and cloud-based video solutions. A survey released by BroadSoft in February substantiated users’ increasing demands for mobile UC.
Throughout the year, we took note of a need to improve video systems and solutions interoperability, whether addressing interoperability issues via premise-based solutions, company-to-company partnerships, or cloud-based federations that include multiple video and UC participants. Federation news was especially noteworthy.
By early spring, we started to notice the introduction of WebRTC gateways and applications servers. Frankly, the love for this latest protocol took us a little by surprise, but we’ll promise to catch up with the WebRTC interest when we make our 2014 predictions.
The year also marked another important milestone. According to US Telecom estimates, more households choose wireless only or VoIP technology than use landlines, leaving traditional landline voice in the minority to substituted alternatives.
We also saw an expansion of carrier services across the oceans as international providers expanded their business UC service into the USA and as U. S. carriers expanded internationally. While these companies were focused on the larger or multinational market, many carriers and infrastructure providers continued to focus on gaining market share in the SMB market. Polycom’s Chris Thorson put it well when he noted that growth in cloud based VoIP (also market as hosted VoIP) is especially “hot”—approaching a 30% growth rate year over year because, according to Thorson, “lots of SMBs don’t want to bother with phone systems.”
And finally, we saw more announcements that we expected about premise based and cloud-based contact center solutions with a series of upgrades from more than half a dozen suppliers that more fully integrated UC, video, and social media features. And SBC suppliers were also very busy this year, introducing expanded feature sets such as video transcoding and software-based / virtual machine options.
All in all it was a busy year for UC. In case you missed our earlier posts, make sure to look at our recent archives for 2013 UC highlights for service providers and infrastructure suppliers. Next time, we’ll see how many of the predictions we made at the start of the year actually came true.