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by Peter Hutchins

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications highlighted the 2012 trends that are impacting UC and will shape its path this year. The top UC trends named are collaboration, bring your own device (BYOD) environments and UC as a Service (UCaaS) with a focus on hybrid cloud offerings.

Employee collaboration in particular is becoming increasingly prevalent enabling companies of all sizes and industry affiliations to gain cost savings and productivity improvements through web conferencing, instant messaging, collaboration suites, enterprise social software and mobile applications.

BYOD accelerates the adoption of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) providing enterprise-class UC&C capabilities and seamless integration on disparate platforms. With mobility and flexibility becoming indispensable for today’s modern workforce, companies need to have a BYOD strategy that supports the use of a range of devices including smart phones, tablets and netbooks from multiple vendors. At the same time it’s critical to mitigate the inherent security risks of a BYOD device using strategic UC applications for business continuity.

UCaaS has changed the UC world by “putting it all” into the cloud. However, not every cloud has a silver lining. Managing new-found complexity that comes with redefining existing communications, automating business processes and unifying them all into 21st century communications technology creates a significant challenge that needs to be addressed for mass UCaaS enterprise adoption. As such, many companies are adopting a hybrid approach when deploying UCaaS; having some of their UC infrastructure on-premise but hosting UC services in a private or public cloud to minimize hardware costs and take advantage of knowledgeable cloud vendors.
So, looking at these trends means we must ask “how far will UC&C impact our upcoming strategies?” Integrated Research’s Head of Unified Communications, Peter Hutchins is sharing his view and insights with us in addressing the complexities of the “Collaboration-BYOD-UCaaS-Cloud-Labyrinth”.

IR’s Insights
Despite the best intentions of the CIO that sees some enterprises exhibit dramatic increases in productivity after deploying full enterprise UC&C suites, other companies stumble and in some cases become less productive if the infrastructure isn’t aligned with the corporate objective of a successful UC&C deployment. This applies to on-premise, hybrid and UCaaS deployments. Enterprise adoption of UC&C is highly dependent on the robustness of all facets of Unified Communications – from instant messaging, video conferencing, mobile presence and collaboration regardless of whether it’s being used on corporate or BYOD assets. However, most importantly for an enterprise with a highly mobile workforce, the inability for UC&C to work efficiently on BYOD will have a dramatic and negative effect on adoption.

To achieve maximum operational maturity with a UC&C layout, it’s imperative that operational teams have sufficient infrastructure insight to rapidly rectify real-time issues for UC service continuity. Furthermore, it’s imperative not only to react to issues in real time, but also to have the ability to look ahead to mitigate any potential issues. These may occur in a network expansion or expected increases in network utilization scenarios – and this is where UCaaS will benefit the new dynamic corporations of tomorrow – giving large enterprise deployments the nimbleness of a startup. Characterizing and continually optimizing the end-to-end UC&C layout, whether using on-premise or cloud services, is a necessary step towards business maturity and full operational effectiveness.