Middle East businesses warming to unified communications

Two analyst houses have published figures suggesting 2010 will see significant uptake of unified communications by enterprises. Gartner predicts the market for unified communications and collaboration will reach a value of US$7.4bn by the year end -- a 22% rise on 2008. The firm also highlights that the technology has plenty to offer from a green perspective. It reckons HD-based video meeting solutions will replace 2.1million airline seats annually by 2012. That equates to savings of US$3.5bn on spending within the travel and hospitality industry every year.

Research by Frost & Sullivan, commissioned by vendor Avaya, predicts the unified communications market in the Middle East will be worth US$235m by 2014, with half of the enterprises in the region planning to deploy unified communications systems in the next three years. There's certainly the awareness to sustain that level of uptake. Frost & Sullivan reports that current awareness levels of unified communications exceed 80% in the region. However, adoption remains in the early stages, leaving plenty of headroom for growth.

The recession has had almost no effect on adoption of the technology, even though some enterprises continue to have concerns about the return on investment potential of deployments. Sixty percent of Middle East business surveyed said the downturn has had no impact on their decision to deploy communication and collaboration tools. The good news is that those enterprises are optimistic about the potential to increase their IT budgets. 65% of respondents expect to see their IT budgets increase over the next two years.

Although the formal concept of unified communications may have limited penetration at the moment, the Avaya research also uncovered that 59% of Middle Eastern enterprises currently use at least some form of unified communications with senior management at more than 30% of companies utilising video and web conferencing and presence information while conducting business. In addition, there is a near even split between large enterprises and SMBs using the technology. Large companies currently contribute 52.3% of unified communications revenues while 47.7% of revenues come from SMBs

Stewart Baines
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.