A Look at the Future of Unified Communications


Our last post discussed this year’s report from Nemertes Research analyzing the capital, implementation and operational costs of unified communications (UC). Published annually, the Nemertes report offers a real-world view of UC costs, not just a roundup of list prices. The research firm has traditionally emphasized total cost of ownership (TCO) in evaluating UC systems, but this year redefined TCO as total cost of operations. This subtle shift acknowledges the maturity of the UC market and the rise of cloud-based and hybrid UC solutions.

Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, published July 13, also reflects changes in the UC landscape. The primary purpose of the Magic Quadrant is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various vendors and place them in the Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries or Niche Players quadrants. At the same time, however, the Gartner Magic Quadrant provides insight into the trends that are shaping the future of UC technologies.

First, it’s important to note that Gartner has eliminated its Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony. The analyst firm found that most organizations are looking for UC capabilities when planning and selecting vendors for IP telephony deployments. That said, this year’s Magic Quadrant emphasizes the telephony component of each vendor’s offering even though telephony is expected to have minimal impact on future UC developments.

The implication here is that UC solutions must have a strong foundation in IP telephony coupled with a clear strategy focused on the evolution of UC. For example, video and web conferencing are becoming particularly important features as organizations look to streamline their communication tools and encourage effective collaboration. It should not require multiple platforms, with complicated setups and access codes, to launch a video or web conference.

The ability to integrate UC with business applications and workflows is also critical. Organizations should look for a UC solution built upon open standards and APIs that enable them to embed a rich set of communication and collaboration features into commonly used business tools. UC vendors should also develop a broad ecosystem of partners capable of creating unique solutions based upon the UC platform.

Finally, UC systems should make it easy to connect cloud-based and on-premises platforms across multiple sites and provide a consistent experience regardless of the deployment model. Vendors that simply “lift and shift” their traditional on-premises platforms to the cloud will not be successful long-term.

At IPC, we believe that ShoreTel Connect is well-positioned to support and enable the future of UC. ShoreTel Connect ONSITE and ShoreTel Connect CLOUD were built from a single software code base, enabling organizations to gain ShoreTel’s full suite of UC functionality in the deployment model of their choice. Gartner noted ShoreTel’s high customer satisfaction rating, and analyst Bern Elliot praised ShoreTel for focusing on keeping UC simple. Elliot also described ShoreTel connect as a “truly hybrid” cloud and on-premises offering.

If you’d like to see what the future of UC looks like, contact IPC for a demo of ShoreTel Connect.