South African companies spent between $30-million and $35-million on unified communications (UC) in 2006, and will increase this to between $54-million and $63-million in 2013.
This is accirding to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, which says the local unified messaging and communications market offers significant potential for growth.
Increased workforce productivity, cost optimisation and improved workforce mobility are the key benefits that encourage organisations and individuals to adopt unified communications (UC) solutions
“UC improves communication by allowing instant access to information using any available communication mode,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Letticia Nkumbula. “The ability to integrate silo equipment leads to cost optimisation.”
UC removes the barrier of restricted communication between people using different communication modes. It also provides mobile workers with a constant link to the office, giving them immediate access to information.
Apart from integrating technologies and increasing productivity among mobile workers, UC is also unifying the competitive environment in which industry participants operate.
The problems associated with integration compel customers to seek products from the same vendor. Due to consolidation, customers are able to receive an end to end product offering on their existing infrastructure.
At present, the lack of skilled personnel is a key factor that is hampering the growth of UC. The complexity of implementing UC solutions requires the combined expertise of IT and telecommunication skills and the gap is difficult to fill.
“The inclusion of skills transfer and development programs in company policies can assist in alleviating the situation caused by the shortage of skills,” notes Nkumbula. “However, the demand for high financial incentives by skilled personnel is aggravating a situation that is already challenging.”
On the other hand, consolidation among market participants is expected to minimise the gap associated with the shortage of skills. A unified industry model is important to promote a diversified skilled base and is also essential to ease the problems associated with system integration.
Clearly, the growth of UC in South Africa is dependant on the ability to integrate the solution into the existing infrastructure. The portfolio approach will help overcome problems related to system integration and the shortage of skilled personnel pool.
"This will result in the availability of UC solutions to a wide client base and provide the customer with an end to end package that improves productivity, particularly among the mobile workforce.