Frost & Sullivan have forecasted the UC market to continue double digit growth for the next five years but they have dramatically reduced the number of UC clients shipped over the time period. They now believe that instead of 50 million UC clients by 2016, there will only be 30 million. This is a significant change in their forecast and mobile devices are identified as the reason for this change.
It is certainly true that mobile clients have changed the way businesses and employees communicate. And with the popularity of the iPhone, most businesses have either conceded to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or are looking at ways to incorporate devices other than those that are “corporate” approved. However, even with all of the capabilities and applications that Android and iOS driven devices can bring to the table, these devices need to fit into a UC strategy not remain outside of it. Fixed to mobile convergence is but one aspect of integrating mobile devices into a unified communications implementation. In order to maximize presence, video conferencing and other key UC capabilities, mobile devices must be included in the process, not excluded.
Although, the devices individually support a range of UC like features, it is the lack of cross corporate integration of these features that requires a true UC platform. And it is important to address this as soon as possible. According to Frost & Sullivan, 68 percent of enterprises view mobile devices as a primary communications endpoint. Furthermore, 10 percent of tablet owners use them for business purposes.
There is no debate about the advent of BYOD. Each major player in the UC solutions arena is actively working on improving how they integrate and include user selected devices versus those sold or represented by the UC solution provider. So, how do we get to prognosticate the end of the desk phone?
F&S also expects business users to migrate from PCs to tablets, with tablets used for businesses growing from 10% today to 70% in 2016. This will result in a corresponding reduction in PCs. Moreover, desktop phones will drop from 37% of enterprise endpoints to 20% over the same time period. The F&S conclusion, “The clear implication is that the need for a UC client like Lync or Sametime on the PC desktop will decrease, since fewer employees will use a PC on a regular basis, if at all. And UC clients on a desk phone will all but disappear.”
I agree with everything but the disappearing act. In order to move the entire enterprise to tablets, it will be necessary to totally embrace the cloud which most enterprises are reluctant to do. More pieces must fall into place before the desktop phone and PC disappears.