by Jeff Wellemeyer, Executive Vice President of West IP Communications

Fully deploying an enterprise-wide unified communications platform such as Microsoft Lync remains a top priority for most large, highly-distributed organizations. This intention is borne out since the market for UC was $7.3 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9 percent through 2015, according to Wainhouse Research.

The challenge – and it is a huge one – is moving these deployments out of the pilot phase deploying IM, presence and conferencing into full-scale production to optimize the full capabilities of workloads, enterprise voice and remote user enablement. For many the answer lies in a hybrid approach that blends the traditional options of on-premises with the enhanced optimization provided through a hosted deployment.

While the hybrid approach for Lync is capturing attention within the enterprise right now, it is not the only trend affecting the move to a fully UC environment. Other concerns on the minds of business and IT executives include:

Faster on-ramp – It used to be that enterprise IT organizations with a remote office of 50 people in it could get by with T1 lines. Those days are over. With more cloud adoption and greater use of the multitude of UC services, organizations are looking for faster on-ramps to their cloud networks to get quicker responses not just for remote offices with large staff but also for telecommuters.

Softphones everywhere – The advent of collaboration tools that rely on unified communications has led to a greater use of softphone technology, as early adopters look to leverage multimedia (primarily voice and video). More and more this collaboration is taking place on a laptop/PC, tablet or mobile device, as opposed to the traditional hardphone on the desktop.

Complete transparency of services – With today’s monitoring tools, it is now acceptable for clients to have the same level of visibility into their voice, data and network services as their provider. Bringing all of this information onto one portal gives them a single point of reference, enabling them to make informed decisions and more effectively manage communication costs. It also means that for providers there is nowhere to hide if service isn’t up to par.

2013 promises to provide an inflection point for  communications capabilities. The world is getting smaller, so as companies expand geographically there will be a strong demand for a global network reach including unified dialing plans and singular infrastructures across all regions.

Depending on each organization’s unique needs, a move to a hybrid UC model, greater adoption of softphones and/or infrastructure consolidation will help them remain competitive not only in 2013 but in the years ahead.

Contact the author at [email protected]

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