Cloud based Unified Communications to drive uptake of UC in Australia

Infotech Lead Asia: Cloud based Unified Communications (UC) or UC as a Service (UCaaS) will be one of the key enabling factors that will drive widespread uptake of UC in Australia.

Traditional on-premise applications struggle to meet the real time communication and collaboration needs of current users.

Cloud based access is already having the effect of making UC available to a wider range of organizations and end users. As the model matures, security and privacy issues, which are currently the biggest concerns, will be mitigated. This shift from an on-premise to a cloud based or hosted model will be the vehicle for growth in the medium to long term.

Frost & Sullivan said the Australian UC market will grow at 8.6 percent from 2011 to 2018.

“The overall UC market is expected to be worth $1 billion by 2016 with the largest adopters, BFSI and Government sectors accounting for 40 percent of this revenue. Other sectors driving growth during the forecast period include professional services, education, healthcare and mining,” said Anand Balasubramanian, industry analyst, Australia & New Zealand ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan.

Though video and collaboration have been the growth engines for UC revenues in recent years, organizations rate voice based applications as the most important UC application. Enterprise telephony – both traditional and IP telephony, accounted for a major proportion of UC revenues in 2011. Although this segment will continue to be the biggest contributor to overall UC revenues, growth will begin to gradually decline as the market approaches saturation.

Cisco, Avaya and NEC are strengthening their hosted voice platforms to address fast emerging demand for hosted voice solutions. Vendors such as ShoreTel, Interactive Intelligence and Mitel are beginning to compete against the established players.

“Cisco and Microsoft are the biggest competitors in the market, due to the breadth of UC solutions offered. Both have a strong collaboration focus and leverage their expertise in networks and desktop applications to drive growth. Although in its early stages of growth, Microsoft’s Lync is emerging as a competitive force in the marketplace. Competition is also keen amongst other players such as Avaya, NEC and Polycom who all vie for market share,” said Audrey William, head of Research, Australia and New Zealand, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan.

Other players such as Interactive Intelligence, ShoreTel and Mitel have a strong foothold in the SMB segment and are securing bigger deals whilst recording strong growth rates. As these players increase their addressable market and become capable of catering to large scale requirements of organisations, they will pose a serious threat to the major UC vendors.

About 50 percent of organisations increased their UC budget for 2012 over 2011.

62 percent of organisations use Over-The-Top (OTT) applications for some of their communications with ease of access being the main reason for using OTT applications. Microsoft is considered to be the vendor offering the most complete UC solution – mainly attributed to its Lync solution; Cisco – for overall UC solutions and Telstra – for UC services.

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