Unified Communications (UC) is both for now and for the future. The rise of mobile broadband coupled with the consumerization of IT has helped change the way we interact at all levels of our daily lives. The enhanced flexibility, agility and productivity in our everyday communication activities are now there for all to see.
But what does unified communications actually mean? Well, in its simplest definition it is the suite of communication applications that let us collaborate and interact more quickly and productively than ever before. Applications typically comprise instant voice over IP (VoIP), messaging (IM) or chat clients, presence, video, web and audio conferencing, single number reach and more.
Unified communications give employees a consistent user interface and experience across multiple devices within the enterprise environment. It fosters increased collaboration between individuals and teams, enabling an estimated 10 to 20% productivity gain.
Unified Communications as a Service on the rise
In recent times UC has been central to ICT and the evolution of work practices. Each new trend has impacted and been impacted by UC: remote work, bring your own device (BYOD), use of video and mobile devices, cloud. The importance of UC trends has been highlighted by Gartner in its Magic Quadrant, while the overall market is forecast to be worth more than $8 billion by 2016.
However, it is the unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) model which is currently creating excitement within the industry. As with any "as a service" model, the key to a solution and its popularity are agility and flexibility – but there is also the fact that UCaaS is now mature enough to have overcome traditional concerns like security, control, cost and reliability.
So why Unified Communications as a Service?
There are clear reasons why unified communications as a service will grow in Asia Pacific – the region is dynamic and varied, and companies of all sizes, from multinationals to smaller operators, need local service and support in developing markets. UCaaS offers major savings in installation, maintenance and restoration terms – a significant consideration when expanding in pursuit of growth. Its scalable nature is highly attractive to companies growing their business in Asia Pacific.
The scalability is vital in today’s cost-conscious world; CIOs are under pressure to optimize budgets, and as a result throughout Asia Pacific the attraction of a hosted or managed model has increased greatly. Companies want to see faster returns on investment (ROI) and a reduction in capital expenditure (CAPEX) – and UCaaS delivers on both of these metrics. The cloud-based approach lets organizations remove central infrastructure CAPEX (servers/PBX, datacentre space, security appliances and sometimes licences), enabling faster ROI.
Similarly, the UCaaS per-seat approach also delivers greater ROI and greater business agility. Companies can not only scale up, but also scale down operations on-demand and are not tied an infrastructure which is sized to the peak capacity as they may have been previously. It is estimated that a monthly, per-user billing model can reduce the bill by up to 20% compared to a non-cloud or “integrated” UC solution. Major service providers' offers are based on the ITIL framework, which brings consistency of service delivery, while the hybrid model of existing platforms married to cloud delivery enables scalability on demand.
This shift in the procurement model has been powered by customer demand, and providers have responded with smart, progressive solutions. Put simply, companies are able to reduce their risk, lower their up-front CAPEX, and benefit from greater control and increased scalability.
a burgeoning market
So it is little surprise that demand for unified communications is high and the market is growing fast. Companies looking to grow in Asia Pacific need to be agile and able to use new technologies and demands to their advantage. No matter what vertical sector a company may operate in, they can increase their agility and productivity. From financial services to the mining sector, UCaaS is empowering companies throughout Asia Pacific.
There are varying trends in Asia Pacific too, with each country operating effectively as a region of its own; the ability to ramp up or ramp down unified communications service on demand is, for example, important to business process outsourcing (BPO) organizations in India, where employee headcounts can vary dramatically. In Australia, with its progressive National Broadband Network (NBN) project, companies are keen to put their UC straight into the cloud and enjoy the savings available through the service model. UCaaS addresses business need wherever a company’s operations are located.
These are exciting times for unified communications, as mobile video powered by 4G LTE technology helps to drive the sector forward. With the worldwide UCaaS market is forecast to grow at a predicted 25 per cent per year, companies throughout Asia Pacific are fast recognizing the benefits and getting on board.
To learn more, visit www.collaboration-made-simple.com
image © Bobboz - Fotolia.com
I am passionate about new communication and collaboration technologies that are fast changing the face of business. With over 20 years of experience in IT, Telecommunication and hi-tech sectors, including 13 years in Asia-Pacific, I lead the Asia Pacific business unit of Unified Communications & Collaboration for Orange. I am particularly excited about the dynamic market of Asia and cultural diversity it offers.