We’ve looked back at how VoIP and convergence have evolved over the past 15 years: in part one of this series, we outlined the early days of VoIP from 1995 to 2000, then tracked how VoIP evolved into unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) between 2010 and 2015 in the second part of this report. Today, we’ll look at three factors that will shape the future of UC&C’s evolution over the next five years including cloud, mobility, and video.
Cloud-based UC&C got its start when enterprise found out that IP-PBX and UC systems worked just as well (or better) in a remote data center when operating as a managed service, freeing corporate IT resources to focus on vertical business requirements rather than a horizontal communications application and infrastructure. As virtualization and common server resources began to better accommodate real time applications, carrier-scale hosted UC&C platforms became a reality that enabled shared resources between organizations. Today, demand for cloud-based UC continues to see double-digit growth while premise-based UC system demand has slowed. Cloud is winning the battle for market share, although we contend that cloud, premise-based, and hybrid architectures will all continue to exist and grow for at least the next five years.
With the widespread adoption of smartphones and Wi-Fi, mobile devices will continue to grow as a preferred endpoint for UC&C services. For the consumer, some markets have already reached the tipping point—seeing mobile devices as more likely to access voice and Internet networks vs. traditional phones and computing that used a wired connection. However, we don’t see the desk phone going away for business. While the wired phone network will move to an all IP network in tandem with the adoption VoLTE, smart phones and home phones will continue to co-exist in the consumer market.
Video, which has already eclipsed data and voice combined as the dominant traffic type on global IP networks, will continue to grow in popularity. We stand by our prediction made three years ago that in the next three years mobile operators will see more video minutes than voice minutes on their networks—including streaming video, along with point-to-point and multi-point video conferencing.
Next week we’ll look at how real time communications technology (e.g. WebRTC), Microsoft’s Skype for Business, and collaboration will also factor into what comes next for UC&C. We’ll also conclude our series and our blog next week with a look at the telco transition to an all VoIP network, and offer a few thanks and goodbyes as we sign off.