What's on the Horizon for Business Communications?
Enterprise unified communications (UC) has come a long way in recent years. However, despite becoming a rather mature market overall, there are still exciting developments on the horizon. At 3CX, we are seeing several interesting trends which we expect to continue to drive the market forward in 2017 and beyond.
Moving on up to the Cloud
An important UC innovation for businesses today is the ability to seamlessly transition between on-premises and the cloud. In fact, the share of UC services hosted in the cloud is forecast to grow at more than 16 percent annually from 2016 to 2023. This isn't surprising, given the flexibility, scalability and efficiency of cloud-based communications.
More enterprises are opting for hosted UC platforms that offer support for both Windows and Linux. This flexibility allows them to run their communications on small appliances on-premises, on a server (virtual or otherwise) or through a cloud server, such as Amazon. This trend affords businesses more control of their data, costs and productivity.
Meet Me on the Web
Office conferencing systems that integrate video and web are definitely on the rise, and this trend doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. From our perspective, we're seeing a huge spike in usage of integrated web meetings among our customers. Many businesses are moving away from standalone software or hardware for conferencing, preferring to integrate these features into their UC systems.
In addition to the obvious cost considerations of paying for dedicated conferencing systems, convenience and ease of use are driving this transition. Office workers want video conferencing to just work without having to install and learn to use additional client software. This type of fully integrated PBX is the future.
Shifting PBX Landscape
The days of being satisfied with simple PBX functionality are gone, and expectations are being set higher and higher as companies make increasing demands of their phone systems. We see enterprises worldwide becoming increasingly aware that they have to consider future technologies in their choice of a PBX system. In addition to video conferencing, for example, companies are looking for landline to mobile app calls and softphones on the PC.
Beyond this evolution of expected features and technologies, we also are seeing a shift in the PBX market in general. At present, nearly every country has multiple suppliers of PBX systems, each focusing on their own geographic market and developing their own technology. However, this model isn't sustainable in the face of growing globalization. Ultimately, we expect the industry is heading for a situation in which there are roughly ten PBX suppliers active worldwide.
BYOD Is DOA
Today's workers are demanding more and more real-time communications tools that they can use across devices. This is particularly true with younger employees who expect the same seamless, digital communications at work that they are accustomed to in their personal lives. Yet, research shows that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies can cause security vulnerabilities, data loss and major IT complications.
As a result, there is a trend among enterprises to opt for more robust, centralized UC platforms that include real-time communications features, such as instant messaging/text chat or presence awareness, which allows workers to see the status of their colleagues - available, busy, away - without leaving their desks. This growing adoption of real-time communications is helping businesses keep up with younger, tech-savvy employees, removing the need for workers to resort to using apps or third-party messaging systems on their personal devices.
By Nick Galea, CEO, 3CX