Frost and Sullivan has predicted next year to be a transformational year, where many ICT vendors will struggle to grow or even maintain market share.
Here are the top seven game changers to keep you ahead of the curve:
1. Microsoft Lync will become a more disruptive force in the unified communications market
Although still a relatively new player in Unified Communications with a low market share, Microsoft has been gaining momentum in the last 12 months and has grown enough to pose a threat to the traditional UC vendors.
IT integrators that used to sell only traditional telephony solutions are now incorporating Microsoft Lync into their product mix. Lync 2013 offers close to 95 per cent PBX functionality, and the adoption of Lync may prove to be a natural progression for companies using Active Directory, Sharepoint and Microsoft e-mail.
Frost and Sullivan believes that these companies are already moving to Lync for instant messaging, presence, collaboration and voice, and anticipates that traditional market participants in the Unified Communications space will increasingly feel the pressure from Microsoft in 2014.
2. High usage of Apps will compel organisations to take enterprise mobility discussions seriously
As mobile devices are increasingly used for business, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) will become important themes for businesses in developing a mobility strategy.
While the device itself is one part of the equation, greater challenges lie in how to manage apps, how to control which apps should be allowed and disallowed from employees’ devices.
Given the sheer volume of devices and applications being used by employees, security is critical for every organisation and specialist Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors and security vendors will play crucial roles.
Security has been highlighted in Frost and Sullivan’s research as the single biggest challenge faced by organisations in implementing an enterprise mobility strategy.
Cloud-based MDM applications as well as cloud based private enterprise App stores will become more relevant in 2014.
3. The rise of the Internet of Things
Frost and Sullivan estimates that there will be close to 80 billion connected devices by 2020 globally.
M2M (machine-to-machine communication) is growing rapidly, and we will see rapid growth in the number of devices with smart sensors, RFID tags and other intelligent input and output automated sensory systems, enabling high level connectivity between machines, devices and individuals.
This will lead to innovation in how services are delivered in industries such as Healthcare, Automotive, Logistics, Transportation, Retail and Mining. Frost & Sullivan believes that the impact of IT on multiple industries will become increasingly pronounced over the next year.
4. Telecommunication vendors will increasingly play a critical role in the delivery of ICT
With Cloud and mobility driving significant change within businesses, the role of telecommunications service providers will become more prominent.
Frost and Sullivan believes that telecommunication vendors will ramp up their service offerings across Cloud, mobility, managed hosting, contact centres and enterprise communication services.
Telstra is a good example of a telco that is driving the delivery of enterprise communication services out of its NAS (Network Application Services) division.
Although telecommunication providers will face competition from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) players such as Amazon Web Services, they will play an increasingly important role in the delivery, management and hosting of cloud services.
5. UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) will be the norm
As organisations come to the end of the life cycle of their telephony and other UC technologies, many are either returning to a traditional on-premise UC solution or moving to a hosted or cloud-based UC solution.
Vendors and integrators that do not develop hosted or Cloud-based offerings will find it increasingly difficult to compete in the UC market in 2014.
Frost and Sullivan said it had observed a similar shift to the Cloud in the videoconferencing segment, with solutions from vendors such as BlueJeans starting to become more prominent.
Although there may still a large market for on-premise video-conferencing solutions, many organisations are looking at hosted and cloud-based offerings that can reduce their professional services and maintenance costs.
6. Further disruption in enterprise communications will be caused by WebRTC
It is still early days for WebRTC (Web Real-time Communication), but Frost and Sullivan predicts this technology will really take off in the enterprise communications market.
Vendors, channels and telcos may already be starting to discuss potential adoption. From a Unified Communications and contact centre market perspective, there are still questions about how rich the features will be in terms of multimedia capabilities, and how scalable the solution will be.
However, browser-to-browser communications could eventually lessen the need for telephony devices and peripherals. Communicating via WebRTC would be as easy as clicking a link that would allow the user to make a voice or video call.
Cisco and Mozilla announced recently that the free and open distribution of the H.624 codec means that these two companies can collaborate for real-time streaming of online video from the browser without plugins. This space will be one to watch in 2014.
7. Google, Amazon will be a growing threat to ICT vendors
Although Google’s penetration into the enterprise communications space is currently well behind traditional vendors, Google has all the right pieces in place to now make significant inroads into the voice and video markets.
A number of large organisations have moved to Google’s Cloud mail, GMail, and Frost and Sullivan predicts many more organisations will follow in 2014.
Google is also working on upgrades to its video Hangouts, to be better able to handle high definition video.
This could potentially challenge traditional vendor offerings. In 2014, more integrators will offer hosted telephony for enterprise grade voice services from their own hosted telephony solution and bundle in Google Hangouts as a hosted/Cloud offering for enterprises.
Google is also working on a number of ambitious plans in the areas of Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things. Google’s influence in the enterprise space will only get stronger.
Amazon Web Services will continue to grow in 2014. Although many companies will continue to buy servers and storage from the likes of HP, IBM and Dell, a growing number of organisations now feel comfortable with buying servers and storage in the Cloud for a fraction of the cost of on-premise storage.