Unified communications is emerging as a key priority for companies, with a survey finding hosted communications services, video, unified messaging and VoIP deployments are on the rise. 

“Though our survey results showed several communications technologies on the rise, by far the most significant uptake in the near-term was hosted services, with 90% of our customer respondents not currently using them, but a full 72% stating that they plan to use them in the future,” says Dave Paulding, regional sales manager: UK & Africa at Interactive Intelligence, which conducted the survey.
The survey, which was sent to a sample of the company’s more than 2 500 global enterprise and contact centre customers, also showed video, unified messaging, and VoIP on the rise.
“When survey respondents were asked, 'What new technologies are you currently evaluating for your call centre?' the greatest response was video,” Paulding says. “I think this shows that contact centres continue to look for that competitive advantage – technologies that will separate them from the rank-and-file call centres – and video is clearly one of them.”
According to survey results, more than 56% of respondents state that unified messaging is a "key priority" for their organisation.
“The unified messaging findings indicate that perhaps this application has finally hit its stride,” Paulding said. “What’s particularly interesting is that, among those who had not yet deployed UM, the primary reason listed was ‘no perceived benefit.’ Clearly, vendors must do a better job of showing customers measurable ROI, which we think is possible if UM applications are offered as part of a broader, ‘all-in-one’ unified communications architecture.”
Other noteworthy findings included the increasing adoption of VoIP, with nearly 70 percent of respondents indicating they had already deployed the technology in some portion of their organisation, and of the remainder, 56% indicating that they planned to deploy it over the next 12 months.
The VoIP-related findings are consistent with other third-party industry surveys, many of which show that 80% or more of businesses today have incorporated IP somewhere in their networks. The VoIP findings are particularly significant when combined with respondents’ top evaluation criteria for new communications solutions, which is open standards.
“These results seem to underline the need for vendors to deliver VoIP solutions using the open SIP standard, which contrasts sharply with the many IP PBXs offered today that come with a few proprietary SIP extensions leading to vendor lock-in,” Paulding says.
Perhaps the most important overarching message that resulted from the Interactive Intelligence survey is that companies are getting more creative in using technologies to retain their most valued customers.
“Our survey results showed that the increasing need to improve customer loyalty was the main trend impacting businesses over the past year,” says Paulding. “This is in line with other aspects of our survey showing the uptake of relatively new technologies, such as video, to both personalize and make more convenient the customer experience.
"This means companies are demanding more flexible, highly customisable applications – the kind that can be created and modified in-house. Business communications solutions that use open standards, are software-based, and can be easily managed and customized are the ones that will fit this bill moving forward.”