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5 UC and collaboration trends reshaping the market in 2023

An uncertain economy is forcing companies to plan carefully as they prepare their 2023 unified communications strategies. Here are five key trends to watch for.

The unified communications and collaboration market is in flux.

IT decision-makers face a variety of challenges, among them designing a strategy that supports flexible and hybrid work models while investing in rapidly emerging technologies that support both real-time and asynchronous collaboration. Given this new reality, here are five UC and collaboration trends that will shape the UCC market in 2023 -- and beyond.

1. Economic headwinds are top of mind

The global economy in 2022 is now the top concern of most IT and business decision-makers. COVID-19 pandemic-related supply chain challenges persist. Inflation put a crimp on consumer buying. And the war in Ukraine continues to create global economic uncertainty due to effects on energy and food supplies.

Against this backdrop, many central banks, especially in the United States, responded by aggressively raising interest rates in an effort to bring inflation under control. This led to a spate of layoffs in the tech space with growing concerns that a slowing economy will drive spending and job cuts across other sectors as well.

UCC investment is already slowing. Metrigy's "Workplace Collaboration MetriCast: 2022" spending study of more than 900 firms worldwide found that companies are only projecting a 5% uptick in UCC spending, year over year, in the next three years. A later study of 400 organizations found that nearly half slowed their IT spending initiatives. As a result, potential cost savings are likely to be the prominent consideration for IT spending decisions in 2023.

2. Entering the age of rationalization

The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were a time of rapid investment in new collaboration technologies, with little central planning. Lines of business were often free to obtain whatever they needed to maintain operations. By the end of 2021, nearly half of companies were operating more than one meeting application, for example.

Now, given the challenging economic environment, we expect IT decision-makers to revisit their current application portfolio with an eye toward rationalizing and optimizing spend. This means determining if it still makes sense to deploy multiple, often overlapping, collaboration apps. It also means keeping a tighter rein on telecom costs to ensure the company is getting the best bang for the buck. We see, for example, companies embracing bring your own carrier public switched telephone network access services as they adopt UC as a service.

Rationalization doesn't necessary mean picking a single vendor for all UCC apps and services. Instead, buyers will look to integrate best-of-breed approaches that focus on spend, reliability and features. This means potentially mixing and matching collaboration apps to deliver the best environment at the best price.

3. Hybrid workplace needs continue to drive investment

For those companies increasing their budgets in 2023, the number one justification is to support hybrid employees and to invest in technologies that enable employees to collaborate wherever they may be located. Among those services, we forecasted that room video conferencing and video applications will grow the most over the next three years.

IT leaders will continue to equip their meeting spaces with high-quality video conferencing equipment, and they will invest in specific technologies -- such as cameras and touchscreens -- to enable remote employees to collaborate and share ideas more effectively. Organizations will also likely continue to invest in high-quality cameras and headsets engineered to improve the remote worker experience, as well as software that provides self-service, rapid provisioning and insights into voice and video quality.

4. UC evolves from apps to platforms

Vendors are making it easier for organizations to integrate enterprise applications, among them CRM, ERP and HR, into their UCC portfolios. To that end, UC vendors are becoming platform providers, and this will require buyers to reassess where to draw the line between overlapping apps and where tapping integrations between workflows makes the most sense. Teams responsible for overseeing UCC apps need sufficient in-house developer expertise as they support ways to streamline workflows through low-code/no-code development.

5. Security, governance and compliance are paramount

Despite economic concerns, about a third of companies surveyed in Metrigy's 2023 spending forecast said they would increase -- by some 21% in our estimation -- their budgets for UC security and compliance. Companies struggle to gain control of the apps they've deployed over the last several years, as well as support new features within existing apps. Today, for example, most meeting apps support automatic transcription and chat, as well as the ability for meeting participants to share files. All of this in-meeting content must be handled in accordance with compliance and security requirements. Team collaboration apps, which have replaced email in a large number of companies for internal communications, also require specific approaches for retention, archiving, governance and security.

Proactive security, governance and compliance also extend to emerging asynchronous collaboration apps designed to support document collaboration, collaborative note-taking, and recording and sharing of video announcements. Companies must ensure all applications -- real time or not -- conform to regulatory and security requirements.

2023 is likely to be a year of tremendous uncertainty and change. Managing these five collaboration trends driving market change in 2023 successfully will help your company spend wisely even as it supports hybrid work and keeps applications secure.

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