Q: From your perspective, what role does UC play in digital transformation?
A: I believe UC will play a critical role in digital transformation and feel that this fact is still not completely understood by many enterprises.
In general, I think many organizations tend to underestimate the role that communications will play in many digital transformation initiatives.
Q: What UC&C trends do you predict will emerge in 2018?
A: We expect to see more interest in team collaborative applications, “intelligent” communications with more integrated cognitive capabilities, AI and ML integrated capabilities, and voice-activated digital assistants for easier, more intuitive to access to calendars and applications. We also think more organizations will begin to consider infrastructure technology such as SDWAN in support of their UC deployments.
Q: What advice would you give to organizations that are currently evaluating their options for migrating UC to the cloud?
A: Recent end-user adoption data from IDC's U.S. Enterprise Communications Survey, 2017: Unified communications & Collaboration (May 2017) highlights that a healthy percentage (54%) of respondent organizations prefer a hybrid approach to deploying new UC&C solutions (i.e., a mix of cloud and premises). So, if you are a bit apprehensive about moving to the cloud, consider moving one or two communications components or applications (e.g., messaging or conferencing) as a first step toward cloud, then build from there.
Q: What impact do you believe the Skype for Business Online/Microsoft Teams announcement last year had on the market? How do you see this playing out in 2018?
A: In the short-term, I think the Microsoft Teams announcement caused some consternation in the UC market, including confusion among customers and non-customers about how to proceed (Skype for Business versus Teams). IDC has heard from some customers that Microsoft has been aggressively trying to move them to Office 365, but investment protection, and/or the overall metrics and drivers for such a move may not be there yet for them, causing some friction. Within enterprises, even though several departments are mostly consolidated under IT now, telecom personnel have traditionally shown themselves to be somewhat conservative and very deliberate in moving to new communications technology – a buying behaviour we think Microsoft must more effectively address as it continues to execute on its Office 365 and Teams vision and go-to-market strategy moving forward. Longer term, I believe there is growing support for team collaborative/chat-based applications and Microsoft will continue to offer good enhancements and options to the Teams capabilities to appease its customers.