The other day I came across this article:
Microsoft pushes into crowded Unified Communications market – ComputerWorld
It says that Lync Server 2013 is pushing into an already-crowded Unified Communications market. And that it doesn’t really stand out from its competitors…or show any real innovation.
Are these valid concerns? Is the UC market really crowded?
All due respect to the article’s author (it’s still a good read)…but I don’t think it is. And I think Lync Server is well-suited for the future of communications. Let’s explore the market a little, and see what we find.
The Current Providers
As mentioned in the article, the major Unified Communications providers right now are:
- Microsoft Lync
8 major IT players. Definitely some healthy competition going on here.
That by itself doesn’t mean the market is crowded. Crowded implies the market is glutted, or the current providers are offering solutions the market doesn’t want.
Not even close. In fact, businesses are moving to more UC technology, not less.
The Current State of UC: 51% and Growing
According to a 2012 IDG Enterprise report, Unified Communications adoption is at 51%. Half the organizations out there.
Plenty more room for UC expansion. And in fact, 90% of organizations DO plan to invest more into Unified Communications & Collaboration solutions over the next 3 years, starting in 2013.
The most popular UC solution in use? Web conferencing (76% of organizations). Followed by IM (72%). VoIP is at 52%. (“The State of Unified Communications Adoption”, Osterman Research 2010) Again, plenty of room for more service adoption.
The BYOD trend is helping to accelerate adoption too. The enterprise is accelerating UC investment due to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets.
Because employees are buying such equipment themselves, they’re essentially giving enterprise businesses ready-to-use UC endpoints. (Just be careful of security!)
Finally, consider that the market is not universal. We do have the enterprise, mid-market and small business segments. Are the current providers focusing equally on all three?
No. According to their websites’ UC content, they’re concentrated mostly on enterprise-level:
- Cisco – Enterprise, Mid-Market
- IBM – Enterprise, Mid-Market
- Avaya – Enterprise
- Siemens – Enterprise
- Alcatel – Enterprise
- Mitel – Enterprise, Mid-Market, Small Business
- ShoreTel – Enterprise, Mid-Market
- Microsoft Lync – Enterprise, Mid-Market, Small Business
Clearly, there’s plenty of room in the small business and mid-market space. And this is where the ComputerWorld article slipped – it appears to characterize Lync Server as an enterprise product only, like the other providers’ offerings.
Lync is more adaptable than that. In fact, far from “not showing innovation,” Lync Server is one of the very few which can provide Unified Communications to ALL market segments!
Unified Communications is Spreading Out, Responding to Market Demands
BYOD, almost half of the market still open, UC expansion continuing, most providers concentrated on the enterprise…I don’t think the Unified Communications field is crowded at all. I think it’s undergoing metamorphosis.
One final statistic: Right now, there are more cellphones than people in the U.S. (327 million phones, for 310 million people). And they’re still buying more!
In light of continuing phone & tablet proliferation, some of these providers will change their offerings. Some may drop out of the space, or be bought out. As mobile access speeds improve and business adapts to changing information flow, Unified Communications will provide necessary channels.
Perhaps that’s a little optimistic. But we’ll see, very soon!