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Past Predictions of the Future of Unified Communications

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How Our Predicted UC Trends From 2016-2018 Check Out

unified communications - evaluating past predictions

Towards the end of every year, Unify Square makes a series of predictions for what to look for in the coming year. This year, we thought not only would we make predictions for 2019, but we’d also take a look back and see how we did on some of our past predictions.

Because the unified communications market has changed drastically over the course of the last 10 years, we’re going to reference our 2016 – 2018 predictions below for relevancy.

What We Got Right

unified communications - what we got right

In 2016, we predicted that end-user satisfaction will drive key unified communications initiatives within IT departments. Fast forward to 2019, and we’re still seeing this to be true. End-users aren’t just more vocal about their dissatisfaction – they’re downright daring.

With more and more software vendors providing cloud-based services that are directly marketed to the end-user (rather than IT teams), end-users are now taking matters into their own hands and finding alternative solutions that can often be implemented without any intervention, evaluation or configuration by IT.

To combat these “shadow IT” effects, as the industry has labeled these end-users, IT teams are taking a more proactive approach to understand end-user satisfaction (or more importantly, dissatisfaction), and implementing UC (and now also workstream collaboration) initiatives to increase user satisfaction.

In 2018, we made two key predictions: The UC App Store would reach the enterprise, and Skype for Business and Teams deployments would shift to migration and coexistence. It’s safe to say that both issues have become some of the most commonplace conversations surrounding workstream collaboration (WSC).

WSC vendors like Slack and Microsoft Teams are seeing new integrations added to their App Store at a frenetic pace. While the enterprise app store makes for a great user-adoption tool, its Wild West approach to app availability can also wreak havoc on IT teams. Large enterprises are embracing the App Store model by releasing pre-approved sets of apps to their organizations, thus preventing any security issues, without stifling end users, and thereby allowing for ongoing, increased adoption rates.

Where We Were Off Target – Oops!

unified communications - where we were wrong

We can’t be right all the time. In 2016 we predicted that Slack momentum would plateau, yet it remains one of the biggest rivals to Microsoft Teams. In 2017, Slack rolled out Slack Enterprise Grid, designed to target large and complex companies. By the start of 2018, Slack signed on over 150 enterprise customers, and their service as a whole hit 8 million daily users in May 2018.

Slack continues to stay competitive. In addition to launching their enterprise service, they’ve made several acquisitions (most notably a key technology purchase from Atlassian). While UC giants like Microsoft enter the WSC space, Slack is still leading the pack and a major thought leader in the market.

Not a Clear Answer

unified communications - not a clear answer

Our 2017 prediction that unified communications in the cloud is not the only answer remains an open deliberation in the predictions game. The reality is, as we kick off 2019, many companies remain on-prem with their UC workloads (particularly the larger enterprises). This is not to say that these same enterprises aren’t also aggressively piloting WSC in the cloud – it’s getting harder and harder to not have some sort of hybrid model that supports some cloud services.

So, while there are organizations who aren’t quite ready to make the big leap to operating solely in cloud-based services, it’s time they start considering a plan to get to the cloud. On-prem UC or WSC solutions won’t last forever.

Wrapping up 2018

unified communications - wrapping 2018

As part of our reflections process, we had a chance to look back at the blogs we’ve published in 2018 and wanted to highlight some of them for you. The following blog posts were some of the most read posts we’ve had this year:

Check out our top 2019 predictions for enterprise digital communications to see what we’re tracking this year, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter (located on the top right of this page) to stay in-the-know for 2019.

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