Unified communications (UC) have been steadily evolving and they aim to provide businesses with new kinds of communications through a wider range of endpoints. UC vendors worldwide are integrating wired and wireless technologies for the betterment of unwired workers who spend more time on tablets and mobile phones than at their desks.

Here are four UC trends with the ability to alter the way businesses deploy IT services and how business professionals communicate:

1: Cloud Based UC: How SaaS Will Change The Way We Spend

Over 90 per cent of businesses worldwide use Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. It is observed that the two main reasons why businesses are turning towards SaaS are due to:

  • A lack of in-house expertise
  • A company’s need for speedier deployment of products and services

But the major reason is because SaaS allows businesses to be flexible with their IT resources and spending.

When companies invest in cloud based UC applications, it allows IT to eliminate the capital expenses. This lets the company move towards an operational cost model where they only pay for what they need and only when they need it. In other words, SaaS allows IT departments to push service expenses directly out to specific lines of business.

However, remember that cloud UC is not meant for everyone. The larger your user base, the more expensive the cloud services are going to be compared to on-premises UC instead. The tipping point for IP telephony is about 2500 users. Additionally, cloud services do not enable the customisation that most organisations need and cloud services will not be acceptable if security regulations dictate that companies must store all data on premise.

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The only solution to this is deployment of a product that is a mix of cloud and on-premises applications. However, developing such a product requires integration of a middleware application from vendors such as Esna and NextPlane to enable presence federation between applications. This includes additional costing and complexity.

Remember that when you implement integrating services from various cloud providers, it becomes more problematic and complex. Despite these challenges, several businesses will be taking cloud services into consideration as they go to evaluate UC technology.

2: Mobile UC: Enterprise Must Deliver UC To Multitude Of Devices

Businesses worldwide quickly adapted to the fact that the BYOD trend is beneficial to them if the personal and enterprise issued devices are put to use to improve employee productivity. Because of this, businesses are moving towards supporting mobile employees across a wide range of devices and mobile operating systems, and are enabling mobile UC applications.

With mobile UC applications, employees have certain demands such as single number reachability and same UC features on their tablet and mobile phones that they have on their desktop. For a company’s IT infrastructure to support mobile employees, there are numerous new challenges which include:

  • Guaranteeing real time application performance on crowded wireless networks
  • Tracking of the users location in case of emergency
  • Secure applications
  • Information on the employees’ own devices
  • Managing UC performance on mobile devices, which is ultimately out of the company’s control.

To tackle these problems, the businesses will have to embrace mobile device management and mobile application management tools from several vendors. Alternatively, they could turn to mobile carriers for hosted mobile device management services. Several UC vendors are delivering fully functional mobile clients for personal and company devices which support their applications and features.

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Mixed vendors on the other hand face much larger issues. This is because it is impossible to enable a flawless end user experience across disparate UC applications and features on a single mobile device. It’s mainly because of this challenge that UC architects opt to consolidate UC vendors around one strategic partner, which entirely delivers a fully integrated set of applications on an employees’ desktop, as well as on mobile devices.

3: Video: Not Just For Conferencing Anymore

Video is a centralised source of all the collaboration technologies. This has made it a universal tool, while simultaneously transforming into a medium for enterprise content sharing. The front-end of video conferencing is now developed with new codes such as H.264 high profile and H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC). This is reducing the network impact of video and also enables high definition video across the Internet or public 3G/4G wireless network.

H.265 on the other hand is an alternative possibility that offers the same benefits. However, in standard protocol, H.265 should allow interoperability among several video vendors. Several cloud services have an ability to hold conferences amongst a mix of rooms and desktop endpoints, mobile users and customer services (for example: Skype). All this can be utilised without the capital cost of purchasing a multipoint conference unit.

Additionally, businesses are now embracing user generated videos. From recording video conferences for future use to distance learning, video is an easy and quick way for people and groups to share their content. Because of these reasons, companies are investing in the deployment of multipurpose video platforms from vendors. Businesses are mainly focusing on integrated options from video conferencing vendors.

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Also, service providers such as Verizon are stepping into the game, delivering content management and sharing as a hosted service.

4: WebRTC: Voice And Video For All

WebRTC allows web browsers to function as voice and video endpoints without the need for separate applications or browser plug-ins. Simply put, it means that users can “click to call” from within the webpage or the mobile application without having to pick up the phone. Lastly, WebRTC is aiming to provide UC applications, such as telephone and video conferencing to all people within the company.

Since WebRTC is implemented using JavaScript language, it is easier for web developers to use this technology to add voice, video and screen sharing to their own applications. By this, we simply mean that web developers can enable peer-to-peer communication without the use of a UC platform. This raises concerns that web developers may create rich media applications without the knowledge of the network department.

Despite the hype, WebRTC is still a relatively new technology that has a long way to go still. Video codec standards are not globally defined and common telephone features, such as compressed voice codec are not supported by Safari and Internet Explorer. Regardless, WebRTC looks to be one of the most exciting and potentially transformative areas in unified communications.

The UC trends mentioned above are set to change the collaboration game in 2018, so get ahead of your competitors and start delving further.