With the recession having forced business decision makers to change their investment priorities, communication vendors and service providers are re-assessing their challenges and opportunities for growth. One of the top questions on communication vendors and service providers’ minds is how perceptions of unified communications (UC) have changed and how the down economy is impacting demand for the individual communication applications as well as demand for UC as an integrated set of voice, data and video applications with pervasive presence across all communication media.
UC Awareness and Usage on the Rise
We conducted an end-user survey of over 100 C-level executives at U.S.-based multi-national corporations (MNCs) that sought to accomplish the following objectives:
Measure awareness of communication and collaboration tools
Identify leading communication and collaboration vendors and service providers
Identify frequency and level of communication and collaboration tool usage
Determine importance of communication and collaboration tools
Understand the effect of the recession on communication and collaboration tools
Determine future intentions for deploying communication and collaboration tools within organizations
We sought to understand the degree of awareness, usage and importance of the following applications:
- Audio conferencing
- Web conferencing
- Video conferencing
- Instant messaging
- Unified messaging
- Unified communications
One of the most positive findings was the fact that over 30% of respondents were aware of all these applications. Most respondents (80%) were aware of VoIP and the three main types of conferencing applications, whereas about 31% were aware of UC (the lowest awareness level of all applications). Interestingly enough, over 30% of respondents also claimed to be using UC within their organizations, which may indicate that, due to varying UC definitions, users identify UC with IP telephony and/or other advanced communication applications. Another reassuring survey finding was the fact that at least 30% of the respondents found all the communication applications listed above to be “very important” and at least 73% found each one of these applications to be either “very important” or “somewhat important”.
The really bright spot was the finding that 74% of the respondents expect their budget for communication and collaboration products and services to increase or stay the same with only 26% anticipating a budget reduction over the next 12 months. Some of the stated reasons for increasing spending included expansion and growth at the respondents’ organizations and industries as well as technology advances and replacement of outdated systems and use of new applications. Respondents who stated that they planned to continue or increase their usage of UC explained their decisions listing a number of actual and anticipated benefits including: cost savings, productivity and the ability to better communicate both internally and externally.
Finally, one other interesting phenomenon revealed by the survey was the respondents’ strong intentions to increase their usage of managed and hosted services. Only 18% planned to decrease their usage, whereas the rest intended to either “somewhat increase” or “significantly increase” their usage of such services.