One for All: UC to See Huge Growth

Wainhouse Research and In-Stat earlier this week released a global forecast that predicts that the unified communications products and services market will hit the $48.7 billion mark by 2012, a 13 percent increase from current levels.

The two research firms have concluded that the services market alone, which consists of hosted telephony components, Web collaboration, and conference bridging, will climb to $24.2 billion, up from $8.8 billion this year, representing a nearly 25 percent growth. The UC products market, which includes on-premises telephony components,team workspaces, and systems for unified messaging, conferencing,telepresence, and instant messaging, stands to reach $24.6 billion, upfrom current levels of $17.4 billion, for a 7.7 percent growth. Deployments of integrated unified communications solutions, containing interfaces that allow for ad-hoc use of multiple components from many different vendors, are expected to reach $12.5 billion, while the services market in that area is likely to achieve $4.1 billion in sales.

Among all components, Wainhouse and In-Stat see video and IP multimedia subsystem services as one of the largest potential growth areas, "given the push from major players promoting video." According to the report, other significant growth areas are likely to include broadband voice and hosted telephony, while conferencing service revenues will increase only moderately.

While the report  suggests that companies will increasing turn to unified communications on a solutions as a service (SaaS) basis, "we expect that additional regulatory pressures and security issues will cause more organizations to bring IM, presence, and Web conferencing in-house" during the next five years, it said.

"Traditional barriers to entry have been shattered by the rise of standards-based communications protocols, voice moving to IP, social-networking capabilities, like presence and IM, moving into the business space, and off-the-shelf servers capable of delivering fully functional, software-based business communications capabilities," they predicted further

Also driving the expected growth is the entry of powerhouses like Microsoft, IBM, Cisco Systems, Nortel, Adobe, Siemens, and Alcatel-Lucent, which the firms say suggests that "unified communications is emerging as a focal point for the future revenues of some of the largest corporations in the world." These companies, especially Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft, "intend to capture significant portions of this market, and they are investing heavily to create offerings that integrate with their existing products—such as networking solutions, middleware, and business applications—and office desktop productivity tools," the firms concluded. "Many other companies are working vigorously in less visible roles to create supporting platforms and infrastructure to enable unified communications for their existing and future customers."

"As we move into 2008 and beyond, the market dynamics are changing. The migration to IP telephony is disrupting the market in such a way that nearly every PBX vendor feels pressure to provide applications, such as presence, IM, and collaboration, that will integrate with a business’ voice system."

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