Predictions for Unified Communications in 2014, Part One

Expectations for Consumerization, Video, Contact Center, and SBCs

Today, we’ll follow our annual tradition and make some predictions for what will happen in 2014, starting with “old business” to suggest what 2013 trends will continue into the new year, then moving on to a couple of items that could start afresh. 

Last year, we saw dozens of announcements on cloud-based video, and we think that while the video conferencing and collaboration market will continue to grow in 2014, so it is probably time for some consolidation here.  In the meantime, we think that cloud-based video conferencing services will fight hard to differentiate themselves, and we expect to see notable marketing activity around cloud-based video services.  Demand for mobile video communications will continue to grow; we still hold to our position that within the next 4-5 years we will see more “video minutes” between mobile devices than “voice minutes.” 

The consumerization of IT, most visible in the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend, will also continue this year.  However, we think that the easy ability to personalize consumer devices (especially via apps) will start to have an effect on how business applications for these devices are developed and positioned.  Since many business apps for mobile devices must be integrated with a cloud or premise based enterprise infrastructure, we see increased participation from these infrastructure suppliers in “personalization for business.”  Look for OTT players like Vonage or Skype to play a key role here as they seek to differentiate their business UC portfolio, followed by premise based solution providers, with traditional network service providers lagging.   Lync will also play a key role in personalization. 

The past year saw several contact center portfolios enhanced, but most of these came from premise-based solution providers.  Cloud-based, full scale contact center solutions are likely to follow but we’re not sure traditional service providers are quite ready to offer unified communications and collaboration services via a managed contact center solution quite yet.  Rather, pieces of contact center features will be more likely.   

We saw a wave of session border controller (SBC) and application server upgrades in 2013, and we expect the next steps in 2014 will be improved interoperability between competing solutions. This will be especially critical for enterprise-to-enterprise network designs that support inter-company UC ecosystems. 

Make sure to join us next time for part 2 of our predictions where we’ll cover WebRTC, potential outcomes of the net neutrality decision, and mobile UC trends. 

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