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Many businesses today are already experiencing the benefits of deploying a cloud strategy, opting to move their existing IT services to the cloud while keeping traditional communications solution in-house. However, emerging dynamics such as employee demand for flexible working practices, the desire to have productivity enhancing tools to increase customer satisfaction and the need to show a positive net outcome on investments are driving businesses to sophisticated cloud-based UC solutions for their real-time communications.
The shift among businesses from premise to cloud unified communications is already underway, and poised to accelerate significantly. A 2015 BroadSoft survey of global telecom service providers and industry leaders expects that cloud UC market share will increase 6x to 41 percent by 2020 as businesses replace aging premise UC equipment in favor of cloud-based unified communications and collaboration services. The survey is a strong signal that cloud UC is proving disruptive due to its superior value proposition – reduced complexity, lower cost of ownership and greater productivity, as well as improved mobility for the increasingly millennial and distributed workforce.
"Cloud UC vendors report an acceleration of mobile-first deployments"
Accelerated UC adoption is being fueled, in part, by four market factors:
We’ve Entered the Age of Millennials
From the proliferation of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) tablets and smartphones to the consumerization of mobile applications, an evolution of the workforce is underway that is largely driven by millennials, which make up 34 percent of today’s workforce and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, will comprise nearly half the workforce by 2020. This always-on, always-connected generation is bringing its dynamic and diverse communications expectations to the office.
Millennials have grown up with technology at their fingertips, and they are quick to bring their preferences to the workplace. Over 85 percent of millennials have an iPhone or Android smartphone, and it is often their primary device.While other demographic groups have been convinced of the merits of a cloud-based delivery model, for millennials it is a more “natural” choice and solidly in their wheelhouse. It should be no surprise that as they have begun to move into management positions and make business-impacting decisions, cloud adoption is accelerating across organizations of all sizes.
UC Becoming More ‘Unified’
Unified Communications, by their very nature, should be “unified.” A simple enough concept, but one that proven incredibly difficult for vendors to execute. Conferencing, instant messaging & presence, telephony, video collaboration, desktop and file sharing, contact center – it is difficult enough to integrate these UC services, let alone making sure they play nicely with popular collaboration tools such as Salesforce, Google, Dropbox, Redbooth and Concur.
Workforce productivity in the enterprise is suffering because various tools and off-the-shelf applications used by teams and workers to communicate only address niche solutions, and are disjointed from workflow processes. This often creates scattered communications (costing the U.S. economy $650 billion annually), ineffective meetings (wasting $37 billion each year in the U.S.) , and fragmented workflows decreasing productivity and decision-making.
Cloud services enable employees and teams to reach new levels of productivity by integrating real-time communications and collaboration, cloud applications, and contextual intelligence, into a unified end-user experience that meets the requirements of today’s workforce.
Enterprises Ready for the Cloud
As is the case with many cloud services, early adoption tends to be in the SMB market. Small businesses seeking out technologies and tools to help them consolidate their communications infrastructure, integrate applications, and reduce the cost and complexity of their communications systems eye the cloud as the idea vehicle for those objectives.
Cloud unified communications followed a similar path, but evidence is growing that cloud UC is moving upmarket to the large enterprise. These large firms are being lured away from their current premises-based infrastructure by the superior cost, scalability, mobility and multi-site capabilities the cloud delivers. The BroadSoft global survey reaffirms the shift from premise-based UC to cloud UC is occurring across all market segments: By 2020, the survey finds cloud UC market penetration is expected to grow 3x in the large enterprise market
Cloud and Mobile Becoming Synonymous
Another key finding from the survey is that UC and mobility are becoming synonymous. By 2020, 42% of those surveyed believe that more than half of UC interactions will occur on mobile devices. In fact, many organizations today, particularly European SMBs, are eliminating all desk phones, and the BroadSoft survey predicted that one-third of all SMB’s would be 100% mobile phone based within five years.
Cloud UC vendors report an acceleration of mobile-first deployments. It is increasingly common for users to have a major segment of their workforce not use a traditional handset at all. Their voice communications are entirely through softphones and mobile devices. In some isolated cases, the entire workforce is mobile-only. Whether users choose to adopt a mobile-only deployment depends on a number of factors, including employee age, business vertical and geographic location.