Interest in unified communication (UC) has leapt over the past 12 months and is expected to continue to rise as interest in new communications applications increases, according to a new report.
According to Frost and Sullivan's The Australia Unified Communications Report 2008, the overall Australian UC market grew by 31 per cent in 2007 and was valued at $484.7 million. Financial services and professional services organisations, such as legal firms, were leading the way in terms of UC interest, analyst, Audrey William, said.
UC technologies proving most compelling to CIOs included presence, conferencing and collaboration capabilities. However, email and telephony were the main areas of spending on UC applications during 2007, with email accounting for 18.5 per cent and telephony at 67.2 per cent of market opportunity.
This is expected to shift as growth in applications such as presence, conferencing, collaboration and mobility take pace in the market, William said. The move towards IP telephony has driven UC because some organisations want to experiment with other types of applications, she explained.
"There's not going to be an immediate uptake of UC as a whole - it doesn't mean that if you deploy IP telephony you would want all the UC applications. Companies are held back due to budget constraints and the exercise might take a few years down the line," William said.
Vendors and the channel will also face challenges around proving return on investment and understanding integration across voice and desktop.
"There will also be a skills shortage in that space, because as these channels get trained, the skills become so specialised around understanding integration from so many different points," she said.
The report also found 45 per cent of CIOs and IT managers wanted more vendor involvement when it comes to purchasing UC solutions. Despite this, the channel still plays an important role in integration, William said.
"The channel will still play an important role for UC implementation, but CIOs would like to see direct vendor participation as well because UC exercises can get very complex," she said. "Vendor participation and discussions will steer that to a bigger win."
According to William, the request for vendor participation was predominantly strong among government departments and within healthcare. Seventy per cent of CIOs polled also preferred to work with a single vendor.