Unified comms are opportunity in challenging ICT market

According to the latest research by IDC, the unified communications (UC) market in Europe was worth $2.6 billion in 2008, and will grow at a CAGR of 39% to a value of $13.5 billion by 2013. This makes it one of the brightest spots in a very tough technology market.

Said Chris Barnard, research director, European Telecoms and Networking at IDC: “In such a challenging market, where spending is plummeting, there is a strong opportunity for solutions that can reduce expenses, such as travel, in the short term. This means that UC, which includes video and audio conferencing and collaboration solutions, is one of the few technology areas well placed to grow during the recession. In addition to cost savings, we see that in Europe environmental issues are becoming a major driver of the overall UC market, and specific submarkets such as high end videoconferencing in particular. Not only can UC reduce an organization’s travel budget, it can also reduce that company’s carbon footprint and improve its corporate social responsibility standing.

“In addition, we believe that the real longer term UC opportunity lies with communications event management platforms that enable the enterprise to build new applications and enhance existing applications in order to streamline voice intensive processes and deliver productivity gains,” Barnard added.

IDC also believes that UC could change the way European enterprises buy voice and data solutions. In the past, most of the sales efforts have been focused on selling to the ICT department, but now the integration of voice and data with business-critical applications requires line-of-business (LOB) managers to have seats at the negotiating table.

IDC believes that UC will offer significant opportunities for network related services players (from both the service provider and systems integrator sides) in the short and medium term. Services companies can act as a single point of contact for the enterprise and resolve issues (ranging from licensing to network and application integration) by interacting with desktop UC players such as Microsoft and IBM, as well as voice vendors.

IDC also believes that in the first half of the forecast period, premises-based UC solutions will lead the way, but that later on in the forecast, hosted solutions will offer interesting opportunities as fixed and mobile providers work out their UC strategies.

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