The New Face of Enterprise Communications is Cloudy, Mobile

    The IT landscape has been dramatically changing during the past several years and analysts expect this momentum to continue into 2014. The presence of new cloud computing, mobility and new phone systems features has forever changed the IT and communications industry and, as a result, the business world. Companies now expect to be able to simply locate, procure and launch sophisticated solutions in the workplace without encountering significant financial or operational issues. This has put an increasing pressure on the telecommunications industry as a whole.

    Frost & Sullivan recently released a report that highlighted some of the ongoing changes taking place in the information and communications technology (ICT) environment, noting that many of these transformations were brought on by consumers and their evolving expectations. While there are a number of emerging solutions and strategies, two continue to make headlines and drive operations forward.

    "Cloud and mobility are the two main themes driving significant change in the ICT industry and driving disruption in the ICT market," said Audrey William, head of research for ICT Practice at Frost & Sullivan.

    Interestingly, both of these evolutions have multiple tiers to them, suggesting that they will have a lasting impression on the business world as a whole.

    Mobility Takes a Turn Down Reality Lane

    More business processes are incorporated with applications than ever before. Meanwhile, individuals are leveraging advanced solutions more frequently in their personal lives without worrying about the complexity of those tools. These have driven mobile discussions in the corporate environment and will force decision-makers to take these meetings more seriously in the future, Frost & Sullivan reported.

    During the past several years, the business phone system has felt the presence of bring your own device (BYOD) and choose your own device (CYOD) as individuals utilized mobile gadgets in the workplace. While these programs will continue to impact the way employees operate on a fundamental level, executives need to take the actual applications into account, analysts noted. Now that individuals are using smartphones and tablets for more processes, decision-makers must be sure that the solutions they use are safe, supported and efficient.

    Frost & Sullivan highlighted how enterprise application stores will become more common in the future, as this provides managers with at least some level of control as to what solutions can be downloaded and used in the workplace. At the same time, however, executives need to be sure they balance governance with freedom, as taking away all employee flexibility can be detrimental.

    Cloud is No Longer a Distant Landscape

    The Internet of Things is going to have a major impact on the way employees function. In fact, analysts believe that as many as 80 billion connected devices will be in existence around the world by 2020. This is driving the need for cloud-based solutions that are agnostic in the sense that they can support a broad range of endpoints without introducing unnecessary challenges.

    The hosted PBX solution is gathering particular momentum, largely because this platform is highly scalable, flexible and cost-effective when compared to traditional phone services. In particular, small companies, which are widely considered to be the lifeblood of the business world, are finding that their communication needs are being met by cloud-based phone systems. A study by The Eastern Management Group highlighted this finding, noting that almost 70 percent of all cloud PBX sales in 2012 were for systems that used 30 phones or fewer.

    Another report by Infonetics Research revealed that the market for hosted PBX solutions grew the most out of any of the other VoIP services that were analyzed. In general, enterprise VoIP technologies generated roughly $33 billion in revenue in the first half of 2013. Between 2012 and 2017, analysts predict that the global business VoIP market, including cloud-based offerings, will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent.


    "The VoIP services market is on track with our expectations for 2013. Residential VoIP services make up the majority of revenue, but growth is being fueled by business services as SIP trunking and cloud unified communications continue to expand and find broader adoption with enterprises of all sizes," said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics Research.

    In the coming years, cloud solutions and mobile plans will continue to gain momentum as employees require new technologies to improve old processes. These demands will transform the communications industry, as well as the corporate landscape, forcing service providers and business executives to transform operations, as well as develop and adopt innovative programs to improve the corporate environment as a whole.

    Business leaders who want to give their firms an edge need to consider adopting innovative strategies and embracing some of the emerging trends impacting the communications world in general. By doing so, executives may give their workforce the competitive advantage it needs to thrive.