The Future of Unified Communications

By: Gary Gluzman

In the communications industry, “Unified Communications” (UC) has become a ubiquitous term. But what does that mean exactly? At the moment, UC is defined as the convergence of multiple communications platforms, facilitating real-time communication in a digital space. This industry buzzword is ringing through the enterprise and is resonating with the consumer base. Millennials are pushing the industry into the cloud, where a text is no longer the most efficient way to reach a friend. From a consumer standpoint, we’ve come full circle in our preferred method of communication. In an almost nostalgic move, UC solutions allow users to return to a time of personalized communication, except instead of face-to-face, it’s video-to-video.

UC technology up-levels communication, marching our digital conversations closer to real-time exchanges. The average consumer or employee is now inundated with messages—SMS texts, endless email chains, paper mail, the list goes on. But what does this mean on an enterprise level? How can employers facilitate seamless and efficient communication? That question lies in the hand of UC developers. As the industry free-falls into an age of evolving UC platforms, CIOs are wondering—who will lead the charge towards UC technology in the workplace?

The Fight for UC Domination

At this point, the unified communications industry is divided into three camps: wireless carriers, existing software providers and emerging software platforms. In their corner, the wireless carriers have reign over network technology, existing software providers have widespread credibility and emerging platforms have an expanding user base. Who will come out on top of this brawl? Here’s a closer look at the three contenders:

Wireless Carriers

Unified communications is not a natural fit for today’s major wireless carriers. While texting was once the trendy way to communicate, many carriers are seeing most of their SMS revenue leaving in favor of popular consumer-facing applications such as iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, etc. To combat the rising competition, carriers are turning towards heavy investments in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) platforms such as AT&T’s Toggle, as well as existing software providers’ UC platforms, so as not to be left behind. These services ultimately enhance consumer and business users’ experience, which fuels bandwidth consumption.

Additionally, if these services are purchased through the carrier, people are less likely to switch to a competing solution. Despite having the network technology in place to connect users, wireless carriers are forced to leverage outside software provider technology to keep up with the growing UC demands SMS once filled. In this way, wireless carriers have the platforms in place to facilitate UC expansion, but they are not able to drive growth through their existing product base.


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