Wrapping up 2015 in Unified Communications
This is the time of year for retrospectives. Mine is pretty simple: 2015 was a “meh” year for UC. Reminds me a lot of my San Francisco Giants in 2015 – a respectable winning record, but the team didn’t meet expectations and didn’t make the playoffs. The UC industry had some interesting moments in 2015 but it certainly was not a breakout year.
The name change of the UC Summit to the BC Summit this year symbolizes the search for momentum in the industry.
The market seemingly spent much of the year waiting for Microsoft’s Office 365 Skype for Business (SfB) offer to release, which it did in December. A lot of vendors have pivoted to accommodate / enable SfB, but it is way too early to see what kind of impact SfB will have on the UC market.
Some other news items from 2015 included the purchase of Unify by Athos (still unknown what that portends), the emergence of Vonage as an SMB player, and Cisco’s announcement of Spark. All interesting, but hardly dramatic. There were a spate of consolidations in the industry, some exits, some rebrandings, and some recapitalizations – but again, nothing dramatic. WebRTC is growing in interest, but the actual revenue flowing through that technology is scarcely notable; maybe 2016 will be the year from WebRTC to break out.
Considerably more attention was given to the prospects for solutions like Twilio and Slack, which impact UC but are not generally considered to be UC. Similarly, Salesforce’s Chatter collaboration application seems to have improved its adoption rate over the course of the year, enough that Microsoft’s Yammer appears to have disappeared. All interesting developments, but nothing that was striking.
2015 was the year all the UC vendors executed on their pledges to make mobility a top priority. By now pretty much every UC vendor has a mobile app, but most of these apps are still underwhelming. I think of 2015 as Mobility 1.0, and am expecting to see better in Mobility 2.0 during 2016.
The cloud was supposed to be big in 2015, and it was, but not so much in UC. UC as a Service (UCaaS) offers increased but the results in 2015, while solid, were not exceptional.
Enterprise pricing for UC products continue to decline, but not as dramatically as some of us thought – and that was good news for vendors. There were no significant developments in the UC channel in 2015, and no particularly compelling advances in UC technologies. But also no significant security breaches and no crippling product failures.
On the whole, a solid year for the UC industry, but not a remarkable one. Like my Giants, the hope is that 2016 will bring much better results.