5 UC and collaboration trends to watch in 2019

As we close the door on 2018, look to the future of communication and collaboration trends that will influence the UC market landscape in 2019.

The unified communications market in 2018 saw rapid innovation, industry consolidation, and a shift toward team and workstream collaboration. Now, it's time to look forward and take a look at five communication and collaboration trends to watch in the UC market in 2019.

1. Unified communications becomes cloud-first

Last year marked an inflection point for UC and collaboration (UCC) in the cloud. According to Nemertes' "Unified Communications and Collaboration: 2019 Research Study," 67% of organizations now have at least part of their UCC applications in the cloud, while nearly one-third are all cloud.

Cloud approaches vary, with larger companies leaning more on hosted, custom-built services, while smaller organizations prefer the flexibility and lower cost of unified communications as a service. As UCaaS offerings mature and are increasingly able to support larger, global organizations, Nemertes expects a shift toward the multi-tenant model as the preferred cloud UCC approach for organizations of all sizes.

2. Team collaboration as the hub of work

According to the Nemertes study, nearly half of companies now use team collaboration applications, but, in many cases, workers still view these as instant messaging tools. Expect an even greater focus on team collaboration in 2019, as UCC vendors make team collaboration the centerpiece of their UCC user experience. Vendors will focus not just on adoption, but on how to integrate workflows and external apps into team collaboration apps so they become a true hub for internal and external collaboration.

3. Security comes to the forefront

Just over one-third of organizations now have a proactive UCC security strategy that combines audits, mandated use of encryption, monitoring, penetration testing, patching, and firewalls or application gateways capable of recognizing UCC traffic and protecting against attacks. UCC business leaders, by and large, don't see threats of attack, denial of service or data exfiltration as high-priority concerns. Unfortunately, it may take a well-publicized attack before IT leaders give UCC security the attention it deserves.

4. Video for more than just conferencing 

Streaming video is widely available through consumer platforms,+ such as Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat. As a result, individuals within the workplace seek the same ability to instantly create and share videos, or even stream live video. Use cases such as supporting field workers, enabling customer service agents to see what customers see and enabling video to replace written communications are all driving growing interest in supporting streaming video.

Streaming video is a growing collaboration trend, as nearly 20% of organizations currently support streaming video, while another 14% plan to do so in 2019. One quarter of organizations have implemented an enterprise content delivery network to optimize streaming video across their network, while another 13% plan to implement an enterprise content delivery networkin 2019.

5. Application and workflow integration

Integrating collaboration, customer service, workflows and other business applications is a primary focus of digital transformation efforts that seek to use emerging technology to deliver new capabilities, both internally and externally. Over the last several years, a growing number of UCC vendors now offer APIs to enable customers to integrate communications features into their existing apps or to create new customized applications for features like reporting and call management.

UCaaS vendors like RingCentral and Vonage are touting the programmability of their platforms as key differentiators, while companies like Avaya, Kerauno, K2 and Whispir are looking to put workflow integration tools in the hands of nondevelopers. Expect the ability of citizen developers -- users who create business applications using environments sanctioned by corporate IT -- to improve in 2019, as more vendors deliver drag-and-drop integration capabilities.

It's shaping up to be an exciting year in the UCC space in 2019, as the trend toward software accelerates the ability of organizations to customize collaboration experiences, tie them into workflows and deliver new capabilities, such as supporting streaming video. Those who get ahead of these collaboration trends by proactively planning for change, while addressing security risks, are in the best position to succeed.

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