UC Consolidation Accelerates

Nemertes’ 2015-16 UC&C Benchmark shows continued consolidation toward Cisco and Microsoft in large end-user organizations for a variety of reasons.
Nemertes Research recently released the results of its 2015-16 benchmark on unified communications and collaboration. Based on data gathered from 50 participants representing 45 end-user organizations, largely with 2,500 employees or more, this research provides a snapshot of enterprise plans around UC technologies including IP telephony, video conferencing, team chat, SIP trunking, video conferencing, and more.
This year’s results show an increasing trend toward consolidation of UC applications onto a single-vendor platform. In 2014, approximately 26% of participants had plans to consolidate. That number jumps to 38% in 2015, with another 7% planning to begin a consolidation in 2016. 
This means that, fast-forwarding a year and a half, nearly half of companies participating in our research will have either completed or begun a move toward single-vendor UC. Additional factors driving consolidation include the need to have a single mobile client for all UC apps, the desire to simplify licensing, and the challenges related to interoperability among disparate vendors.
Among those who have selected a consolidated vendor, Microsoft dominates: Fifty-three percent are moving to Microsoft, up from 41% in 2014. Cisco takes second-place honors at 35%, up from 29% in 2014. Other vendors receiving mention include IBM and ShoreTel.
End-user organizations that are consolidating are moving most every UC application. All start with IM/presence, 94% add in desktop video and Web conferencing, leveraging integrated UC suites like Cisco Jabber and Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business. Seventy-five percent are migrating telephony to the consolidated platform, while another 35% are including additional apps like file sharing.
A big driver for consolidation is the desire to improve the user experience, particularly around providing a one-click capability to launch meetings that include voice, video, and screen sharing. More than half of participants either already have this capability, or plan to deliver it by the end of 2016.
Two vendors are notably missing from these results: Avaya, cited by 16% as their primary telephony provider, and Google, cited by 6% as their primary provider for email/calendar. Each of these vendors will need to figure out how to stem the tide of migration to competing platforms.
Of those respondents who said their organizations are using Lync/Skype for Business for IM/presence, Web conferencing, and perhaps voice/video chat, but who have no consolidation plans, just 19% are integrating Lync/Skype for Business with their IP telephony platforms. They are doing so either using plug-ins like Avaya Client Applications or Cisco UC Integration for Lync (CUCI-Lync), or via third-party integration clients like those from Damaka.
Interestingly, Microsoft’s recent rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business doesn’t seem to be having an impact on migration to the platform, but nearly 41% of those we interviewed had a negative view of the name change, noting that they are now dealing with confusion between the consumer and business versions of Skype. This is especially problematic in regulated industries where use of consumer Skype is prohibited. Another 26% rated the name change positive, noting that employees will like the familiar user interface as well as added integration with consumer Skype, while 34% had no opinion or were neutral.
Those who are developing their own UC roadmap and strategy should look from the end-user backwards. If maintaining separate platforms, think about how that impacts usability, manageability, and cost. If moving to a consolidated single vendor, think about how you will make the switch, and how you will address licensing, depreciation of existing assets, training, and integration between UC and other applications like contact center to guide your decision-making.

This article excerpt, by Irwin Lazar, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1KO1TcN