2015 Cloud UC Predictions

9 Dec 2014

2014 was a strong growth year for Unified Communications as a SaaS service from the cloud. When delivered from the cloud, UC has compelling advantages over on-premises UC solutions. In 2015, we predict a breakthrough year for cloud UC solutions due to several new trends, including UC-enabled "everything" services, UC enriched mobility, and the maturing of cloud infrastructures to handle cloud UC services.

2015 Predictions

The strongest growth segment for UC has been cloud UC. 2015 is poised to deliver more of the same strong growth, due to several trends and opportunities I predict will become reality. Here are my 2015 cloud UC predictions.

Welcome to the Unified Communications-enabled Everything Cloud

Unified Communications in and of itself is a necessary IT infrastructure for all businesses; it is their lifeblood. But in 2015, we will see UC integrated into and interoperating with all sorts of cloud services. A sort of unified communications-enabled everything cloud! Why is this important? It's important because communications is a means to an end, not the end itself. Thus enabling all other IT services, including content management, file sync and share, collaborations, and CRM, with real-time unified communications allows them to be more responsive and productive for the end user. This in turn enables the ultimate goal of business: Get a deal done.

Mobile UC for the BYOD Generation Goes Mainstream

Let's face it, the mobile generation is here and here to stay. What's more, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is not about one mobile device, it's about multiple mobile devices (and of course your old-fashioned non-mobile desktop too). All these devices can be problematic for businesses if their communications infrastructures can't accommodate them or even more importantly, can't take advantage of them.

2015 will see UC vendors get serious about mobile UC integration into their cloud solutions. Cloud UC has a powerful advantage over on-premises UC solutions: the ease with which cloud UC vendors can integrate multiple mobile devices into their solutions. Cloud UC vendors will deliver omni-presence, intelligent fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) call routing, and mobile-enabled support for call center agents in 2015.

Cloud UC Providers Will Need to Deliver Industrial-Strength Infrastructures or Die

Cloud UC "crossed the chasm" in 2014, from early adopters to early majority, and today is a viable solution for businesses that want a future-proof, scalable, globally consistent platform for deploying communications services. However, just as you can't afford to have your heart stop for minutes or hours at a time, cloud UC vendors can't afford to deliver a mission-critical business service on an infrastructure that goes down for hours -- that will not fly with customers in 2015. Customers are aware that reliability and availability matter. Thus 2015 will see cloud UC vendors either fortify their infrastructures or suffer the consequences (which will include high attrition). Beyond reliability and availability, the top cloud UC vendors will also focus on scalability, security, quality of service (QoS), service level agreements (SLAs), and support.

2015 will be a banner year for cloud UC vendors, and opportunities to expand and integrate with other cloud services will ensure long-term value to end customers. The mobile BYOD trend will only strengthen cloud UC's benefits, accelerating market growth. However, all of this will create further expectations for cloud UC vendors to get their infrastructure act together in 2015 and deliver superior cloud- service attributes.

Arthur Chang is CEO of PanTerra Networks.