Unified Communications:: The Good, The Bad, The PonziBy Chris Talbot | Print
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The dream of unified communications has been pushed by technology vendors for decades -- a single interface for all your communications needs including instant messages, email, phone, video conferencing. Here's a look at whether we've finally arrived and the new innovations that are on the way for this Holy Grail of collaboration.
After a difficult 2009, the unified communications market started to grow again in 2010, with many projects that had been put on hold because of restricted budgets finally coming to fruition. New players in the UC space entered the market, and some anticipated product releases were finally launched.
Although Gartner analyst Nick Jones recently called unified communications "the greatest scam since Ponzi," businesses are turning to unified communications in order to reduce costs and for the additional benefits they can’t get from traditional communications infrastructure. To be fair to Jones, though, he was putting unified communications down because it lacks a solid definition – an accusation the market has been hearing for some time.
At a research symposium in Sydney, Australia, he was quoted by Network World as saying, "I’ll give you the real definition: Unified communications is the bundle of things a vendor wants to sell you."
"I think what happened this year is there’s been talk lately about is UC dead, and the Gartner article about UC being the biggest scam since Ponzi, so there’s been some [talk] that UC isn’t meeting its expectations," said Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst at COMMfusion.
Even without a solid definition of the term, unified communications seems to be moving ahead and finding its niche in both SMBs and large enterprises.
How did the industry fare in 2010? Was there an increase or decrease?
There was a fairly nice bounce back from a dreadful 2009, with overall UC revenue growth in 2010 expected in 15 percent to 20 percent range, according to IDC," said Richard Costello, senior analyst of enterprise communications infrastructure at IDC.