Maren Bennette of CQC produced an informative Consultants Update Report for us earlier in the year and from those interviews Maren extracted from those consultants predictions and trends they expected to be realised in the communications market this year. Here they are, exclusively for Comms Business Readers.
I believe it was sports figure Yogi Berra who said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. Perhaps less humorous, but more relevant is a quote from science fiction writer William Gibson: “The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.”
Whatever the truth, there is one fact that is undeniable: communications applications consultants see what is really going to be deployed by customers sooner than most other industry players, be they analysts, manufacturers, channel partners or even journalists. This is because they see many more real life projects much, much earlier than most.
We asked consultants what trends they see in the market. As it happens, the Society of Telecommunications Consultants (STC) in the USA had undertaken an extensive review of technology, social, business, and economic trends to forecast the future of the communications industry and projected how business will probably be done.
Many of the changes predicted are already underway but it is predicted they will gather momentum in the next five years. The STC does not stand alone in its predictions: the trends they see are mirrored in research carried out by The Brookside Group and Hot Telecom Research, two communications consultancy service groups. These trends include:
- The increasing complexity of projects. Consultants are seeing a significant shift to more complex projects as voice is integrated into application software and service offerings.
- The globalisation of business and business communications. More and more, global teams of consultants will be engaged with multi-national clients
- The continued ‘consumerisation’ of communications and IT and increasing user expectations: BYOD is not just going to be about smart phones and tablets, but also about the apps that run on them. (Editor’s note: we agree and will be running an article on this shortly.)
- Mobility continuing to proliferate (including the support of mobile users, mobility management, mobile devices and remote users, etc.).
- A rapid transition of business applications and communications to the cloud. Consultants are being asked by the clients to specify a cloud based solutions for their requirements even though perhaps they choose not to implement them from day one of a new deployment.
- The decline of land line traffic, voice, voice mail, and email, with increases in wireless connectivity, texting, and social media.
- The continued decline of TDM-based PABX’s and handsets, with the matching increase in IP telephony solutions with both hard and soft IP communications devices.
- The decline of traditional telephony equipment manufacturing companies and increasing presence of new players who integrate voice with their other applications, including Microsoft and Oracle.
- Social Media becoming a primary communications tool for an increasingly significant part of business and public services.
- The rise of free-to-user open real-time communications media such as the browser based Web RTC services.
- Smart phones becoming the primary communications device for voice, messaging, data and video for most of the world’s population that live in reach of a mobile service.
- Many businesses and public service organisations will opt to eliminate or reduce traditional desk phones in favor of smart phone integration and PC or network connected headsets.
- Business telephone equipment manufacturers are and will continue to be challenged to find a sustainable investment and revenue model. Some will evolve from hardware to software suppliers. Most survivors will downsize, or if successful acquire their competitors in order to grow.
- Internet phone services such as Skype, Google Voice and others continue to grow in use and capability. As an example, there are several hundred million Skype users, and 35 % of small businesses use Skype which provides voice, video, text, presence, file sharing and light collaboration mostly for free. Integration of these services into enterprise communications strategies is becoming more common.