Unified Communications: Dialling in mobility and video – Part 2

Demands from employees for mobility and flexible work spaces is driving adoption of unified communications solutions in the New Zealand market – Heather Wright dials in the views of local experts.

Last July, Gartner noted in its Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications that the enterprise UC market ‘is now considered by Gartner to be entering the early mainstream adoption phase’.

The research firm noted that unified communications applications are increasingly being integrated or offered in concert with collaboration applications to form unified communications and collaboration (UCC) and in some cases, being integrated with business applications and workflows, something Gartner calls communications-enabled business processes (CEBPs).

Cisco and Microsoft topped the magic quadrant as leaders, with Avaya and Siemens Enterprise Communications also making the leaders category.

Challengers included Alcatel Lucent, IBM, NEC and Huawei, with Aastra and StoreTel making it as niche players.

The mid-market contact centre

While mobility appears to be the biggest driver locally, there are other forces at play. Meadows says the mid market contact centre is a hot area at the moment.

“The large insurance companies, councils and big enterprises have had the contact centres and unified communications for a long time.

But there’s a big requirement in the mid market for solutions that may not be quite as complex but can offer things such as social media integration and email queuing. Essentially becoming true contact centres, rather than call centres.

“The big organisations like IAG, the police, State… have enterprise grade platforms. But in the SMB and mid market, the offerings available have previously been quite basic and you had to buy third-party offerings like Zeacom to enhance the offering of, say, Avaya.

“Now, vendors have taken a lot of the technology from the enterprise platforms and shrunk it down and applied it to mid-market offerings – and there’s a wide market for that, especially in New Zealand.”

Meadows notes Microsoft’s strong play for the market with Lync, particularly with last year’s release of Lync 2013 and its improvements. “The licensing is very easy, and it links into Exchange, which 90% of customers are using, so it’s a considerable threat to traditional [unified communications voice] players.”

He adds that traditional players have moved rapidly to shore up their offerings.

Back in June 2012, Avaya acquired Radvision, a leading provider of videoconferencing and telepresence technologies over IP and wireless networks.

“Most of the traditional unified communications vendors are making sure they’re able to hold their own as Microsoft comes into the voice market.”

Gartner, in its June 2013 report, Critical Capabilities for Unified Communications, says most unified communications vendors
can provide all the real-time communications tools in UC suites, including IM, voice, telephone, videoconferencing, web conferencing and desktop sharing.

“The competitive challenge is increasingly shifting toward awareness and leadership through the marketing of capabilities.”

“Most suppliers can offer a complete, or nearly complete, set of UC functions with their own technologies; however, the need to coexist and integrate with partners and competitors is essential for many organisations to develop their unified communications and collaboration strategies without using a rip-and- replace approach,” the report notes.

For Part One, click here. And for Part Three, check back to The Channel on Friday

This article was originally published in the March issue of The Channel magazine, click here for more details

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