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communications projects moved beyond the basics of VoIP, IM and presence in
2011, with many businesses starting to adopt more of the advanced features that
UC vendors have been talking about for the past few years.

Video, mobility and collaboration were the real stars of the year, and projects
including them are sure to continue into 2012 and beyond.

the growth of unified communications was dampened by the shaky economy, the
market for UC solutions has continued to grow, said Rich Costello, senior
research analyst for unified communications and enterprise communications
infrastructure at IDC. Overall growth is expected for 2012 even through the
health of the economy is still a concern. Deployments will likely continue to
extend into video, mobility and collaboration solutions as businesses look to
take advantage of the technologies’ robust features and the cost savings
typically associated with UC.

seems to be a lot of discussion in 2011, in particular around those things as
key drivers for UC, and obviously beyond 2011. We’re looking at the next phase
of deployments for UC beyond the basic stuff like IP telephony, instant
messaging, unified messaging,” Costello said. So far, though, there haven’t
been many use cases available, but he noted he hopes that will change in the
next year.

to Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst at COMMfusion, the state of
unified communications is changing as collaboration technologies become of
greater importance to businesses. Depending on the vendor defining UC and
collaboration, UC is either a part of collaboration or vice versa. Pleasant
sees collaboration becoming the dominant force.

really going on these days is we’re seeing UC being subsumed by collaboration,”
she said. Pleasant added that companies that consider UC to be a part of
collaboration do so because they’ve been focused on the messaging part, and
what UC is really driving is a different way for people to communicate and work

people see UC as the plumbing behind the merger and intersection of UC,
collaboration and social media, but Pleasant has a different take on it. She
sees it as more than that.

really the way to get people to communicate,” she said.

businesses in the last year adopted UC, but the growth rate is still not going
“gangbusters,” Pleasant said. When UC launched, there were expectations for
explosive growth, but the numbers are still much lower than previously

seeing companies starting with the capabilities and the components that they
need and then gradually adding on to that. We’re seeing a lot more adoption of
enterprise-grade IM and presence capabilities,” Pleasant said.

much of the adoption of IM and presence has still not been integrated into
IP-PBXes, which is the next step that Pleasant said she would like to see. She
anticipates more integration between IP telephony, IM and presence over the
next few years.

was a major driving force for UC in 2011, she said. It’s been driven from the
end-user up.

have seen a pickup in the last year. Things were kind of stagnant the last two
to three years, but in the past year things have started picking up a bit.
Especially we’re seeing the idea of consumerization of IT and
bring-your-own-device, so companies are really making an effort to find ways to
make mobile devices and mobile workers more a part of enterprise
communications, so using UC is very important for that,” Pleasant said.

bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend will likely hit IT departments big time when
people return to the office following the start of the new year, said Michelle
Warren, president of MW Research & Consulting. Tablets are expected to be a
big seller for the holidays. When people shake off their New Year’s Eve
hangovers and return to the office on January 3, 2012, there’s little question
that they’ll want IT to connect them to the corporate network.

trend that has been pushing the boundaries of UC is the emergence and
popularization of the cloud. Hosted and cloud-based UC services launched in
2011, and although the uptake has been slow so far, there is plenty of interest
among SMBs and enterprises.

2011, that became a big talking point, and then we also talked to a lot of
vendors and service providers who were starting to roll out some of these
cloud-based UC solutions,” Costello said. “There’s a lot of interest in those
deployments, particularly among the target, which is the mid and small level of
customer organizations.”

customers spent 2011 kicking the tires of cloud-based UC, but Costello said he
expects many organizations to look at it as a viable alternative to traditional
UC implementations in 2012. He predicts that it will first attract SMBs, as
well as any business looking for a cost-effective UC option.

with many other areas of cloud services and applications, businesses are
looking for ways to move from a capex to an opex spending model, Pleasant said.
She had a different take on the main adopters of cloud-based UC going forward.

seeing mainly small companies and very large companies being the first ones to
move toward the cloud,” she said. “Some mid-sized have, but it’s really at the
very low end and at the very high end. Over the next year, that’s going to be
changing as more mid-sized companies and large companies also go in that

ahead to 2012, Pleasant said she expects some key trends to include more
integration with social software and more adoption of UC by contact centers.

think it’s more of a continuation of what we’ve seen in the past year – hosted,
cloud, mobility, virtualization,” Pleasant said.