Unified comms market to hit $2.3 billion by 2016.


The unified communications market is preparing for a boom as the latest findings from ABI research suggest this area will be worth more than $2 million (1.4 billion) over the next five years.

Last year saw the integrated UC market achieve a 22 per cent year-on-year growth rate to reach 413.5 million, according to the research firm.

Big growth drivers include fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), digital video conferencing and online collaboration as well as various forms of messaging and social media.

The increased demand and appetite for UC gives rise to the need for a new kind of enterprise communication platform, according to ABI Research. This is due to what it calls shifting "transactional boundaries" within contemporary business models.

The market shift won't be without challenges either. Uncertain ROI payouts will compound other issues such as interoperability, network performance and UC security, ABI Research warned.

Given the large number of physical moving parts found in any UC environment, not all implementations will be pain-free. Industry commentators suggest that this pushes the case for more centralised services and federation across different network protocols, devices and LoB (line-of-business) applications.

"UC vendors are rapidly expanding capabilities and are entering into technology and marketing partnerships to bridge gaps in product portfolio and market presence," said ABI senior analyst Subha Rama.

"Many of the vendors are making the transition to software-based UC platforms, supporting virtualisation and centralised implementations in a private cloud environment. Centralised management and multi-modal support eliminate many of the complexities associated with UC in these scenarios."

How vendors respond to these changing business and market conditions and needs will have a massive influence on who ultimately wins contracts, according to ABI Research's practice director Dan Shey.

"Microsoft is consolidating and rapidly growing its presence in the UC market with the launch of Lync including enhanced functionality and presence in both the CPE and cloud markets," he said.

"We believe that the ability to integrate across mobile devices and platforms, coupled with lower costs, will prove to be the most compelling factors influencing choice of vendors."