Is unified communications still relevant?

By Kathryn Edwards, Computerworld Australia |  Unified Communications, telecom

Debate over the significance of Unified communications (UC) as a technology continues with Gartner and Frost & Sullivan arguing that its is respectively, no longer a strategic priority and its an evolving technology still worth watching.

Speaking at the recent Gartner Symposium in Sydney on the top 10 strategic priorities for CIOs and IT managers, Gartner senior analyst, Nick Jones, said while big gun technologies like cloud computing and virtualisation still made the cut, UC had been dropped from Gartner's list, because it was "evolving rather slowly and is not strategic for so many organisations."

Agreeing that the the technology was still evolving, Frost & Sullivan ICT research director, Audrey William, said that UC was however still important.

"The thing about UC is there is no single solution, so it's a journey for a customer and many companies in Australia are still on that journey of migrating from traditional telephony to IP telephony," William said. "There are also others who have passed that stage and are looking at video collaboration tools and integrating that with web conferencing."

According to William, the economic downturn has seen a rapid uptake of UC technologies, as companies attempt to achieve cost savings and cut down on work related travel.

"A lot of IT managers and CIOs have said that this is one technology they can achieve real ROI from," she said. "UC is still important because at the end of the day you want all these technologies to communicate with each other in a synchronised environment, and therefore it's important to understand how this landscape is evolving."

As mergers and acquisitions continue to drive the UC market and provide a host of integrated solutions from vendors, William argues it's critical for IT managers and CIOs to understand which vendors are best to work with.

"The market now only consists of a hand-full of vendors, so it's even more important to understand the roadmap of some of these vendors and what role they will play during the next three to five years, because ultimately companies will be using one of these vendors' solutions," she said.

Last year, the Australian UC market reached a record high with an estimated value of $608.7 million, according to Frost & Sullivan.

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