According to Dr. Hugh Bradlow, Chief Scientist and ex-Chief Technology Officer for Telstra, unified communications (UC)is the next technology that will transform the way we work. He explains why he believes so.
The term unified communications (UC) isn't new. How has it been redefined over the years and what are the factors that caused the shift?
Although definitions of unified communications (UC) have differed over time, at its heart is the integration of real-time and non real-time communication services across multiple devices. A key feature of UC is the addition of video to our communications and the increasing adoption of media-centric broadband enables video to become more pervasive on both fixed and mobile networks.
As organisations embrace cloud services across Singapore to benefit from its flexibility and scalability, we've seen a variety of enterprise applications move from on-premise to a cloud hosting model, and UC has been no exception. The rise of 'bring your own device' (BYOD) in the workplace has also added another dynamic to the UC sector, with organisations wanting to enable employees to be productive regardless of their device or location.
How will UC evolve in the years to come? What factors will greatly influence these changes?
For employees, mobility is no longer a nice-to-have option - it's a requirement. Teams now require access to a mobile workspace at all times to ensure consistent productivity, regardless of the location and device they're working from. As the proliferation of mobile devices continues, coupled with the move to consumption based business models and the growing demand for mobile workspaces, we will see a growing number of organisations moving their UC solutions to the cloud.
As competition increases in the space, providers will begin to offer a broad range of pricing options to suit a range of customer requirements. Simultaneously, the platforms will need to evolve to embrace the new devices, applications and capabilities coming to the mobile market.
What do these changes mean to telcos, especially for those in the Asia Pacific region?
For telcos in Singapore, it means reliable and modern network infrastructures will be more critical than ever. For example, as mobile workspaces become the norm, so will the development of enterprise applications empowering workforces to operate efficiently in this new environment.
The "personal cloud" will also play a large part in enabling workforces to be more productive as as-a-service platforms like Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) take centre stage. Ultimately, the networks supporting these services need to be robust enough to rapidly handle ever-increasing volumes of data travelling through them.
Even though Frost & Sullivan predicts that the UCaaS market in Asia Pacific will grow from US$1.67 billion in 2013 to US$2.98 billion by 2018, there are definitely factors restraining its growth. What are some of those obstacles? And how should UC vendors, telcos or enterprises/users overcome them?
In our conversations with customers around UCaaS, the most common barriers to adoption are security, reliability, locally hosted services, and competitive pricing. However, in the coming months, we anticipate a perfect storm of events that will remove these obstacles. Key to this is the number of local data centres we are seeing built across Asia-Pacific, as well as partnering with best in breed suppliers such as our Cisco Intercloud partnership which is being expanded into Singapore and Hong Kong. By leveraging these local services, UC providers can make the issue of locally hosted services redundant, while delivering a reliable and secure platform for customers. As such, demand and uptake for UCaaS will increase, driving down price and encouraging differentiation in the sector.
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