Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Unified Communications is Not a New Market, says Frost and Sullivan

"Unified communications is not a new market," argues Melanie Turek, Frost and Sullivan analyst. Mostly, it is a repackaging of many existing businesses, ranging from business phone systems to collaboration software suites.

That doesn't mean there are not some new products, industry segments and providers. But most of the revenue is driven by legacy products, she suggests.

"It's a way for vendors in existing markets to continue making money," says Turek. "The biggest impetus for the players in this space to keep playing isn't to deliver new business revenue; it's to stop existing, or past, revenues from disappearing—not to another vendor (although that's always a risk), but from the market altogether."

In many cases, the goal is simply to give customers a reason to upgrade. "Unless those vendors can deliver a compelling reason for companies to move to the next version of their communications and collaboration software, companies aren't going to," says Turek.

And the telephony vendors have it even worse: Hard phones and network gear should be built to last: sometimes decades or more, says Turek. " And except in certain specific use cases, like the contact center, businesses don’t need or want to add more features to their employees' handsets."

That doesn't mean there isn't a market for UC, she says. There are new applications. But those new products might simply serve to keep those vendors in business.

The question for vendors, then, is how to grab a bigger piece of the already-existing pie, says Turek.  And that is what makes quantifying the size of the UC market so difficult.

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