Watching 3 Cloud Trends in 2016

by Sandra Gustavsen

It’s not news anymore that adoption of hosted/cloud solutions for business telephony and unified communications is well underway as businesses, small to large, recognize the benefits in subscribing to unified communications “as-a-service” (UCaaS) versus purchasing and installing hardware and software on-site. There are obvious budgetary advantages to selecting a cloud solution such as reduced capital expenses, fewer IT personnel and predictable per-user monthly fees, to name a few. But, there are also strategic advantages in terms of scale, consistency across a network and the ease of adding future innovations that are appealing particularly to organizations with multiple, geographically-dispersed offices.

Below is our two cents on three trends to watch as the business communications market continues its transition toward the cloud in 2016.

Contact Center in the Cloud

Data from a number of market research firms confirms that cloud-based contact center solutions are increasingly becoming the preferred deployment model. A 2015 Call Center IQ research study concludes that cloud technology is the “new normal” for contact centers with some 52% of surveyed organizations already actively investing in cloud contact centers, and 76% expected to be investing by the end of 2016. CCIQ adds that organizational discussions about cloud contact center have shifted from “if” cloud is the right strategy to “how” best to integrate cloud solutions and which parts of the business will benefit the most from a transition to the cloud.

A large number of cloud UC providers, including those that sell a portfolio of cloud and premises-based solutions as well as cloud-only providers, are already onboard and offering business customers a cloud contact center alternative. Read more about some of the new services in the market.

Hybrid Cloud Implementations

Recent market studies validate the shift toward hosted/cloud UC in general, but also highlight a growing preference for “hybrid cloud-premises” implementations. A 2015 IDG Enterprise survey finds the number of small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and enterprises planning to implement a hybrid UC model is rising, citing that 54% of enterprises and 42% of SMBs in their survey are preparing to do so in the next two years (compared to 30% and 27% using a hybrid approach today).

Traditional business telephony vendors that have added hosted/cloud UC services to their portfolios of IP-PBX, contact center, messaging and other on-site telephony-related solutions are uniquely able to offer these flexible hybrid arrangements – an approach that pure cloud communications providers cannot provide. Customers can select the combination of on-premises equipment and cloud services that best fits their particular business challenges.

Look for hybrid cloud-premises implementations to remain a key strategy in 2016 and beyond. Read more about some of the hybrid cloud solutions from leading business communications vendors.

UCaaS for the Enterprise

While evidence shows that small businesses often find a fixed-rate (pay-as-you-go), quickly deployable UCaaS solution appealing, there is an increasing interest by mid-market and enterprise organizations with more sophisticated requirements and/or multiple, geographically-dispersed offices. The ease of adding new locations, consistency across a network and built-in disaster recovery are among the strategic benefits a hosted/cloud alternative can provide to larger, distributed enterprises.

Market research firm Infonetics confirms this trend “up-market,” highlighting an escalating interest in hosted VoIP services by large enterprises that continue to actively evaluate cloud UC. Analysts at Frost & Sullivan agree that hosted communications solutions are gaining traction with larger organizations, especially those with remote and mobile employees.

Many cloud UC providers are turning their attention toward the mid-market and enterprise space, so we can expect to see more enterprise-related cloud services in the near future. Read more here about some of the services already addressing the needs and requirements of larger businesses.