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27 & 28 MARCH 2019

ExCeL LONDON

Unified Communications Predictions for 2019

For decades, companies relied on plain old telephone sets (POTS) to manage their business conversations through the PSTN.

The old strategy wasn't necessarily the most effective, but it was reliable. Inside the office, companies could depend on their PBX to connect employees to countless extensions, keeping the discussion flowing. As time passed by, we discovered VoIP, and the cost-effective support it could provide for worldwide connectivity.

However, in today's digital age, we've learned that the best conversations don't necessarily depend on voice alone. With the internet at our fingertips, we've discovered new ways to communicate, from instant messaging to video conferencing and even full collaboration services. While VoIP providers still exist, many businesses are looking for something more fully-featured in their digital transformation strategy - they're searching for the power of UC.

In an industry defined by evolution, what does Unified Communications mean in 2019?

Here are my predictions on how the landscape will change.

UCaaS Dominates the Conversation

According to MarketsandMarkets, UCaaS adoption is set to double by 2021, particularly among small to mid-sized businesses. Companies everywhere are discovering the benefits of a cloud-based UC system, from lower total cost of ownership to greater flexibility.

In the year ahead, UCaaS will begin to take over more of the market, with countless vendors offering packaged selections of the best UC features over the cloud. However, hybrid will continue to be an opportunity for those bigger enterprise companies who can't afford to move completely off-premises. For some, the option to scale at their own pace will be essential.

The Chess Board Changes

It seems like everyone is battling for a bigger pieces of the UC pie this year. Moving in 2019, expect the competitors and challengers you see every day to evolve, as resellers transform into service providers, and providers make the move into platform vendors.

At the same time, the quest for global domination in Unified Communications continues, with more European players spreading out to new countries. Recently, Waterland, a private equity investor acquired pan-European UC company Swyx Solutions and then Centile, in a purchase designed to help Swyx accomplish its goals for European expansion. Swyx will now have the power to reach new marketplaces, and many other companies are taking a similar approach, including the UK hosted voice powerhouse, Gamma Telecom.

CPaaS Is the New Differentiator for UC Vendors

CPaaS is quickly becoming the must-have solution for businesses in search of a DIY approach to communication and collaboration. Designed to enable seamless and flexible connections, CPaaS allows end-users to mix and match their ideal features, into a system that provides single-pane-of-glass simplicity to end users. It's no wonder that UC Vendors are beginning to look at CPaaS as the ultimate way to differentiate their service.

With open source strategies, developers will have access to a constantly-increasing range of software and features. This means that businesses investing in CPaaS get more low-cost, scalable solutions capable of making a significant difference to their business operations. CPaaS means that anyone can access the features they need fast, from chatbots to customer experience systems and more.

Needless to say, there are other differentiators for UCaaS including SD-WAN and contact centre which will continue to trend in 2019.

Vonage Has the Potential to Grow

Vonage has perhaps one of the most impressive portfolios in the cloud communications market today, with UCaaS, CPaaS, and CCaaS all bundled together. Over the years, Vonage has made some significant investments into this strategy of flexibility, including their purchase of the Nexmo company back in 2016. Now, Nexmo's CPaaS and API technology makes up a valuable part of Vonage's differentiation solution.

As we move into 2019, I'm particularly interested to see how Vonage takes advantage of its position in the communication space. There's a good chance that they'll begin to move more aggressively into the mid-market and enterprise spaces.

RingCentral Continues Amazing Growth

RingCentral is another name to watch in 2019. This leading provider of global solutions for cloud communication and collaboration is continually growing. In fact, at this point, there's a good chance that they'll either evolve even further or potentially be acquired by another big-name company. After all, their share price is already through the roof.

Recently, RingCentral purchased Dimelo - a cloud-based digital consumer engagement platform. This new purchase helped RingCentral to expand their growth even further, with connections to new customers like Orange, Telenor, AXA and Allianz. In 2019, RingCentral also purchased Connect First, another customer engagement strategy for mid-sized and enterprise companies deployed by businesses like the ASPCA, PBS, and Comcast.

Avaya Evolves Fast

Avaya has been one heck of an underdog story to follow in recent years. Ever since they escaped their Channel 11 bankruptcy issues at the end of 2017, Avaya has been transforming at break-neck speed, delivering new solutions in collaboration, cloud voice, video, and contact centre applications.

Not only has Avaya proven itself to be a business that's capable of overcoming even the most complex challenges, but the company has also shown that it's got a seriously loyal following of customers. The consumer base with Avaya today has stuck through them through everything, and with a new leadership team at the helm, 2019 is set to be Avaya's year in the spotlight.

Fuze Prepares for IPO

Fuze is another major company making waves in 2019. The communication business is apparently launching their IPO this year, and they certainly have a lot to offer the market. Providing one of the most innovative UCaaS platforms on the market, along with a fantastic unified desktop and mobile experience, Fuze could be a temptation to some major players in the UC market.

Recently, the business achieved another $150 million of investments in a new round of funding designed to help them expand further internationally and make additional enhancements to their platform. This is certainly a business to keep an eye on.

Dialpad Earns Additional Funding

Finally, Dialpad has big plans in 2019, with more funding in their pocket and a huge appetite for developing their international presence. Thanks to their recent TalkIQ acquisition, the Dialpad platform has got a boost of artificial intelligence support, meaning that the company can now compete with some of the more innovative platforms.

I'm interested to see how Dialpad's ambition and their new round of funding will help them to make a significant impact on new markets.

What do you see in your crystal ball for Unified Communications in 2019? Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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