2008 was the year of communications. Unified communications became a reality, with products and solutions actually being deployed, to form a collaborative strategy within organizations. Perhaps the need for cost efficiencies, combined with the plummeting economy, forced enterprises to rethink how they utilize their communications platforms to improve overall productivity within their organizations, and ultimately add to their bottom line. While tools such as UM and e-mail have been deployed for quite some time now, the emergence of a more unified communications and collaborative strategy took shape. The integration of telephony and presence features became much more critical to business processes. All of a sudden, there were so many modes of communications that calling someone on the phone really became secondary. Modes such as IM and SMS have become the way to have a conversation.
As the year comes to a close, what does 2009 hold in store for this industry? With emerging technologies taking shape, business models changing, a new group of millennials coming into the workforce, the blending of personal and professional lifestyles, and a new president-elect, I think that despite the economy, we’re in for change. Here are a few things that I think will happen in 2009 (in no particular ranking order-they’re all important):
- The Unified communications market will consolidate-as the credit crisis continues, the financial viability of vendors will be challenged, those who don’t survive will simply get acquired in a rapid fire sale, or simply go away.
- Interoperability will happen-There’s no way around it, if UC is to succeed, vendors will need to interoperate and partner with other vendors, in order to drive UC adoption. Most enterprises will take a best of breed approach, simply because of existing, disparate technologies within the organization, which becomes expensive to rip out and replace. 2008 was a lot of talk about making it happen; 2009 will see it happen…really. Vendors finally understand that this is not a one vendor-take-all space and will learn to guess what? Collaborate!
- Customers will have the option of deploying UC and collaborative tools overall, in the Cloud, making for better resource efficiencies. Although still a relatively nascent market, vendors will capitalize on this opportunity and make it enterprise ready. Enterprises will evaluate any technology that can help to rationalize capex/opex.
- Enterprise social networking will become a legitimate collaborative tool. Look for Facebook and LinkedIn type enterprise applications take shape in order to enhance partner, supplier and customer relationships, while at the same time, securing an organization’s intellectual property.
- SaaS will gain traction as enterprises, both big and small, look to reduce hardware investment and create efficiencies; market will move towards anything as-a-service.
- Terms like software, hardware, and telephony will go away, making way for new terminology.
Although there are many things that MAY happen, I believe these WILL happen. The market must go in this direction in order to further the value proposition of UC and collaboration in general. The value and benefits will be hard for enterprises to ignore, even in this economy. This is a good time for enterprises to take the time to re-evaluate their equipment, strategy and ultimately resources. Automating many business processes and implementing productivity applications is key in this environment and vendors have a choice of solutions to choose from.
On that note, thank you for reading me, and providing feedback. I’m very interested in reading what you think will happen in 2009, feedback is very much welcomed. It’s been quite a year and glad to have been a part of it. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions with you in 2009, and wish all my readers a wonderful and prosperous New Year!