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The Future of Unified Communications


At this point, the unified communications industry is divided into three camps: wireless carriers, existing software providers and emerging software platforms.

Existing Software Providers

We’re also seeing office software giants expanding into the world of UC. For consumers, these platforms include Facebook’s Messenger app, Google’s Gchat, Skype, etc.  For the enterprise user, an entire market has emerged around employee communication. We’re seeing UC solutions in the form of Microsoft’s Skype for Business, or Cisco’s Jabber. These products leverage key services, including presence, desktop sharing and video conferencing capabilities. In this way, these platforms are dominating the UC conversation for enterprise users by integrating within existing office software and facilitating real-time conversations. These existing companies are also able to leverage their massive user base and name recognition to drive engagement.

In terms of longevity, it is still unclear which services will actually last. For example, Facebook Messenger is hugely popular with consumers, but it does not fit in a work environment and cannot compete with Skype for Business in the workplace. Only time will tell which platforms are here to stay, but it is clear that there will always be consumer and enterprise UC platforms.  Consumer social networking platforms are gaining ground, and is already the standard form of communication. In the enterprise space, Skype for Business seems to be leading the race. However, federation platforms such as NextPlane’s, as well as AT&T, enable interconnecting with other UC platforms such as Cisco Jabber, IBM Sametime, Broadsoft UC On, etc. and even several consumer UC platforms.  Federation extends UC outside of a company and streamlines real-time communications with vendors and partners, which are typically still handled via email or telephone.


Emerging Software Platforms

The dark horse in the UC race, emerging software platforms, are the new companies that are springing up with a sole focus on providing a new UC experience. These include products such as Slack or Glip, which introduce collaboration solutions alongside built-in productivity tools. These services are generally adopted by development teams, due to their collaborating functionality. Emerging platforms are built to facilitate group work, filing sharing, task assignments, getting the attention of a group member and schedule coordination all in a single environment.  There is also integration with other third party applications (for example, services that report system errors or successes) thus making such portals a single place of communication.

For start-ups and SMBs, emerging software solutions are often the choice du jour. However, they don’t easily scale to enterprise-grade deployments and are even, at times, deployed alongside Skype for Business. The new software platforms on the scene have sprung up as a response to the growing UC trend and unique needs within developer and start-up environments, but they remain a niche solution in a sprawling communications market.



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