- Cloud-based products and services are the most important priority for APAC enterprises, where they are currently investing or plan to invest in the next 12-24 months.
- Service providers (SPs) with integration capabilities and the ability to federate across unified communications (UC) platforms may have a competitive edge with their UCaaS offerings.
Current Analysis’ 2014 Enterprise Investment Plans Survey highlighted that workloads such as e-mail/calendar, UC and productivity applications are the first to move to cloud. Furthermore, many enterprises appear open to using UC running on public cloud services – good news for major providers such as Microsoft, Google and AWS. A high proportion of enterprises already use some collaboration services such as audio and web conferencing; cloud-hosted contact center and video collaboration are among the most anticipated investments in the next 12 months.
Cisco HCS and Microsoft Lync are widely offered UCaaS platforms by SPs in Asia-Pacific. Cisco’s UC offerings include the Cisco HCS suite, WebEx and Collaboration Meeting Rooms (CMR). With its Intercloud and Project Squared initiatives, Cisco aims to offer SPs and enterprises the ability to leverage UC assets across private/public cloud, enabling file sharing, persistent chat, and WebRTC-based voice and video, towards more seamless collaboration and team working. Microsoft has also enabled federation of Lync with Skype for IM and presence, voice and video, which has helped expand the reach of Lync Online. In H1 2015, the next version of Lync will become ‘Skype for Business’ with a new client experience, a new server release and updates to the service in Office 365. Google has entered into collaboration services through its Google Hangouts, which is device agnostic and offers IM, screen sharing, video/audio/web conferencing and collaboration on docs. It is interesting to see how coopetition is evolving, with SPs on one hand using the UC technology from Cisco and Microsoft and on other also competing with them, as these vendors are also selling SaaS-based UC offerings in the majority of markets.
SPs in Asia-Pacific are split in their opinion of over-the-top (OTT) UC players. Some SPs see OTT collaboration services as less of a threat and more of a potential partner. The proliferation of public cloud services and higher-quality broadband access from 4G/LTE mobile networks have been catalysts for the OTT phenomenon. But, SPs also indicate that APAC enterprises are more likely to have legacy communication and collaboration systems than their North American and European counterparts. This could present more opportunities for SPs to help enterprises migrate from their legacy platforms to UCaaS.
So, enterprises planning to adopt UCaaS should evaluate the UC value proposition in its entirety, in the context of their specific communication and collaboration needs in addition to parameters such as SIP trunking support, DC resiliency/redundancy and global reach. Inter-UC federation may be particularly relevant to organizations with multiple UC platforms/assets that they need to pull together and migrate over time. Organizations that typically work with multiple partners with diverse UC platforms could also give more weight to SPs with convincing federation offerings/roadmaps. Buyers may want to steer their business toward vendors/service providers that exhibit strong integration capabilities. For organizations of nearly all sizes, UCaaS can be a cost-effective and hassle-free model. Even large, geographically dispersed organizations, where the volume of multi-channel communication is very high and the complexities are challenging, could find UCaaS addresses most of their needs. For specific requirements, enterprises could request customization or add a secondary platform that addresses the gaps.