UCaaS: What Market And What Future?

UCaaS: What Market And What Future?

The deployment of a UCaaS and digital transformation project can only be done with an overview and a strategic vision of the company’s data. Removing data silos must be part of the expected benefits. 2020 was a year of records. Mainly through the rise in the use of UCC/UCaaS solutions and the number of associated innovations. 

Videoconferencing, team collaboration, instant messaging… forced teleworking, and the need to maintain the effectiveness of teams even remotely have pushed publishers to compete in imagination to meet the pressing expectations of companies and to differentiate themselves from the competition.

What Is A UCaaS Solution?

Schematically, the UCaaS market is defined as all business communication and collaboration solutions accessible in as-a-service (SaaS) mode. Its segmentation arises from that used historically for UCC (Unified Communication & Collaboration): business telephony, collaboration (document sharing and co-publishing tool, instant messaging, project management, etc.), audio and video conferencing (including webinar and virtual event versions) and contact center.

A “Reports & Analysis” segment is generally added, although it can be broken down into each of the segments above. But this segmentation is undermined by an increasingly significant overlap in the functional perimeters of each segment: voice passes seamlessly to video; videoconferencing is transformed into video collaboration; online team meeting evolves into project management (including with external partners); the project meeting extends to commercial prospecting; and prospecting to customer relationship management. 

The convergence of functionalities within a single interface represents a strong trend for buyers: according to a Frost & Sullivan study, 68% of buyers of a UCaaS solution make “all-inclusive” a crucial decision criterion. A UCaaS solution, therefore, seems increasingly perceived as an “all-in-one” solution where the user can move from one mode of communication to another and from one tool to another in a fluid and transparent manner… The evolution of terminology reflects this porosity: we now commonly speak of video collaboration or even hypercommunication (a concept introduced by the CEO of Illumy).

The Wind Blows On Certain Historic On-Premise Features

UCaaS solutions bring a new approach to old problems. Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), for example, has become essential for mobile or nomadic company teams: where administrators combine mobile phones and office phones, we can now offer employees a homogeneous voice environment regardless of the terminal. That he uses (and in particular, his own #BYOD).

The logic of the unique number associated with several physical or virtual terminals becomes almost banal in UCaaS mode, while it requires particular attention for on-site solutions. The good old telephone-computer coupling is another illustration: by the disappearance of the terminal in favor of access to the communications functions offered, the UCaaS approach frees the employee from the chains of their physical office environment. 

The notion of coupling is replaced by the -expanded- concept of the ubiquity of UCaaS solutions. Finally, let us mention the management of in-door Voice networks: if the coverage and performance of mobile networks are part of the historical or more recent bricks of publishers and equipment manufacturers (IP-Dect, VoWifi, VoLTE, not to mention GSM), we have seen In recent years, approaches have emerged that attempt to make these networks complementary and transparent for users. 

Being able to switch conversations transparently between different networks has become a vital usage argument and requires specific technological building blocks in on-site architectures. With their VoIP logic agnostic of the network used (even more so with the emerging 5G), UCaaS solutions simplify such uses.

Recent Uses Are Reinforced And Perfected

Multi-terminal approaches have been developed for several years now. Thanks to them, a more or less significant number of communication devices are associated with a single user:

  1. Their office station
  2. Their mobile
  3. Their computer’s softphone
  4. Their DECT cordless handset
  5. Even their telephone number

By almost wholly disconnecting terminals and functionalities, UCaaS solutions facilitate and generalize this type of logic. Furthermore, driven by advances in data analysis, artificial intelligence, and Machine Learning, certain advanced functionalities are becoming more widely available. Of course, their access is not strictly reserved for UCaaS solutions, but it is particularly easy for them because these innovative services are most often also based in the cloud.

The voice channel now benefits from keyword detection capabilities, natural language understanding, real-time transcription (or even translation), emotional analysis, voice authentication, and even voice bots. For its part, the Text channel opens up to voice (Text-to-Speech), semantic analysis, and conversational bots (chatbots); the video channel includes facial authentication, gesture recognition, control, and eye tracking.

UCaaS: New Employee Contact Center?

For a company, being interested in UCaaS solutions means, above all, asking itself the question of its digital transformation. Both from an external point of view with the optimization of its customer experience (CX) and from an internal perspective with the optimization of its employee experience (EX), UCaaS solutions serve business processes. The Deloitte firm goes even further by introducing the concept of Business Experience (BX), which is intended to be the extension and synthesis of the two previous points.

To make an analogy, the possibilities offered to employees by UCaaS solutions fall under the same logic of efficiency and productivity as the omnichannel logic that prevails today for contact center agents. A single interface, often customizable, allows the user to have an overview of their exchanges, whatever the channels or type of content, and to optimize their interactions. It is interesting to see how a publisher like Genesys highlights this dual approach in its strategy.

A Marked Trend Toward Functional Integration And Interoperability

The integration or interoperability capabilities of UCaaS solutions with the company’s application ecosystem also represent an essential selection criterion. Whether thanks to a library of official connectors, an SDK, or the provision of APIs, a UCaaS solution appears as a tool for content aggregation and decision-making support. Publishers are also racing for connectors and communicating on the richness of their connector libraries (2200+ for Slack, 800+ for Teams, and 1000 recently announced by Zoom.) 

The evolution of traditional corporate instant messaging towards a UCaaS approach of the ChatOps type is revealing: standard bearer of players like Microsoft (Teams) or Slack, ChatOps is a method of collaboration centered on communication that connects people, means, content, and automation in a single, transparent workflow.

What is interesting in this expansion of interoperability/application integration is that the company’s communication system can take on a new dimension in which voice is ultimately just one vector among others: Opening up to IoT connectors will, for example, profoundly evolve the capabilities of a contact center dedicated to the health sector (connected health terminals) or maintenance.

There Is A Growing Need For Monitoring

With the exponential use of UCaaS solutions, the need for tools for their deployment and supervision has become more apparent. Where occasional use of videoconferencing could suffer from some temporary inadequacies (complex access ergonomics, unstable bandwidth, relative sound quality), its hasty deployment and repeated use highlighted a need to supervise better and control it.

On the quality of the service, they provided, first of all, the audio and video quality control tools: synchronous tools, very directly linked to the management of bandwidth on the company network as well as on (private) links—or not) between user sites and the cloud server. Then, on the security dimension, the efforts of publishers to provide end-to-end encryption capabilities have revealed the abuse of marketing language and the constraints that extreme security could impose on the functionalities of a solution.

The debate on EE2E encryption of video content is an illustration of this. In another register, the complexity of VoIP / UCaaS architectures increases the risks of breaches and implies the use of fraud detection tools or real-time attacks on the systems. (Diskyver, Vyopta) Finally, on the axis of use, administrators and project managers must monitor the appropriation of new tools by employees. The return on investment of a UCaaS project is directly conditioned by changes in behavior and usage that specialized tools are now capable of synthesizing in the form of KPIs.

A Data Vision That Has Become Essential

We have entered an era of data abundance. UCaaS solutions are no exception to the rule; their multiple ramifications within the company’s information system are able to monitor a host of parameters. The deployment of a UCaaS and digital transformation project can only be done with an overview and a strategic vision of the company’s data.  Removing data silos must be part of the expected benefits. 

New software tools are becoming more popular. Under the label of Collaboration Performance Management (CPM) or EXP (Employees Experience Platform), they target either a specific point of supervision (malfunctions, attacks, and suspicious events at the start-up Diskyer, for example) or a broader scope (security and usage analysis at the publisher Vyopta or Nexthink).  Extended to individual behaviors, they can also generate some tensions, as the Microsoft productivity score measurement tool suffered during 2020, suspected of being an employee monitoring tool.

UCaaS: Evolution Or Revolution?

Indeed, the UCaaS market displays impertinent dynamics: according to sources, in 2019, the global market represented between 10% and 20% of the UCC market. A growth rate estimated between 20% and 30% per year would increase its penetration to 35% by 2023, according to Gartner. In value, this market would reach around $30 billion in 2021 (Markets & Markets), $80 billion in 2024 (Transparency Market Research), and $170 billion in 2027 (Grand View Research) Even if these figures should be handled with caution (the UCaaS definition varies depending on the sources), the real question is not so much whether UCaaS will take over but when and at what pace. 

Barriers to adoption are being lifted, and the COVID-19 impact has accelerated the adoption of new uses, saving the sector three to seven years. In the latest Mitel barometer on the adoption of ToIP in the cloud, 44% of companies say they are ready to migrate their contact center to the cloud. But constraints persist, which play a role in the adoption of 100% cloud: control of the level of security, SLA of the link used, respect for the residential nature of the data, and control of support for change, to name just a few. -uns. To navigate calmly in these new technological and usage environments, it is essential to surround yourself with experts in the field, such as consultants and specialized integrators. 

Despite everything, for the moment, SMEs-ETIs favor gentle approaches: hybrids, private cloud, CPaaS, virtualization… According to an Eastern Management Group study (2019), UCaaS represented only 7% of purchases for businesses with more than 1000 employees. This rate would be 13% in 2024, very far from the rate observed for VSEs and network companies (franchises), which currently concentrate on pure cloud UCaaS approaches.

In Conclusion…Temporary 

The UCaaS model undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of it. Its marked advantages in terms of uses for the employee as well as for the IT administrator will be reinforced by the granularity offered by CPaaS solutions. These allow a smooth evolution by enhancing an existing on-site site by adding the only functional modules in SaaS mode that the company needs. UCaaS approaches will also find the deployment of 5G a significant ally in expanding the use of the cloud. 

The only question worth asking, in the end, would it not be to know if the future of UCaaS solutions is not intended to blend in and disappear within the application environments of Business departments? UCaaS will thus find a new universal definition of Universal Communications as a Service.

Read Also: What’s New On YouTube To Improve The Video Experience?

Team TechnoHashtag

At Techno Hashtag, our team passionately explores groundbreaking technology, driving innovation in the dynamic digital landscape. With a keen eye for emerging trends and a dedication to delivering cutting-edge content, we are your go-to guide in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *