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May 08, 2009

Conferencing Emerging as Lead UC App?

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Nothing ever goes as planned in the broad unified communications business. Developers spent great attention creating products for the business customer. And then consumer VoIP exploded. Great effort went into creating Session Initiation Protocol. And then Skype (News - Alert) exploded.
For the past couple of years, “communications-enabled business processes” has been the mantra. But something has happened to the overall UC market, it seems. IDC (News - Alert) specifically singles out conferencing and collaboration applications as something we might call "lead" applications, not the more typical "unified" applications people tend to talk about.
The unified communications market in Europe will grow at a cumulative average growth rate of 39 percent to 2013, reaching $13.5 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 2008, say analysts at IDC. "In such a challenging market, where spending is plummeting, there is a strong opportunity for solutions that can reduce expenses, such as travel, in the short term," IDC analysts say.
"This means that UC, which includes video and audio conferencing and collaboration solutions, is one of the few technology areas well placed to grow during the recession."
In the European market, other drivers for conferencing exist as well. Environmental issues are becoming a major driver of the overall UC market, and specific sub-markets such as high-end videoconferencing in particular might benefit, IDC analysts say.
Not only can UC reduce an organization's travel budget, it can also reduce that company's carbon footprint and improve its corporate social responsibility standing," says Chris Barnard, IDC research director, European Telecoms and Networking.
The longer-term opportunity likely still will lie with communications event management platforms that enable the enterprise to build new applications, IDC says. Enhancing existing applications with better communications still will be important.
But the near term focus seems to be shifting to conferencing and collaboration.
Similar trends can be seen in the Asia-Pacific market. "In the future, the adoption of Web and video related collaborative applications will take precedence over voice related collaborative applications," says Shalini Verma, IDC Research Manager for IDC’s Asia/Pacific Communications Group.
In part that is because UC is emerging as a driver for telecommuting. The top reason for implementing telecommuting for more than 40 percent of the enterprises was the availability of new UC tools, Verma says. Collaboration and productivity enhancement are cited as main drivers for UC adoption in the region and the impetus to consolidate systems across multiple sites also ranks among the top three reasons for embracing UC.

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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