UC Is Dead; UCC Is the Future
By Jim Lundy
A few years back when I was still leading the Collaboration team at Gartner, we worked with the UC team and came up with a new term: Unified Communications and Collaboration a.k.a. UCC. That was in 2009 and as I look back over the last seven years, the market has changed, but terminologies have not.
UCC is used in the market, but not as much as UC. The reason for that? Change is hard and some industry analysts are hanging on to the past. This blog is about UCC as the new way forward and the need to focus on a holistic approach to real-time collaboration.
If we start at the top, when I founded Aragon, we knew the future was about video. The voice market is still very large, but the days of installing large PBXs on-premise are winding down. Today, what business users want is real-time collaboration. UC has always been about a voice-led product offering, but today, as the market has shifted, buyers want voice, video, collaboration, and mobile. So, it is more than UC or UCaaS. UCC is the closest term that describes what we have been calling real-time collaboration. UCC platforms provide voice, video, collaboration, and more.
With mobile, cloud, and enhanced web technologies such as WebRTC, solutions have changed. Today at work, it is about email, messaging, calls, and meetings.
This all means that the market has shifted and with a market shift, comes the need to call it by a different name. UCC is the future. Business users need to get work done and the more they can work seamlessly, the faster and more effectively the work can be done. So, while voice is important, the need for a larger, more holistic view of the market is needed.
UCC is about the need to enable calls that are both voice and video, meetings with users and rooms, and collaborating, where instant messaging is giving way to mobile messaging (which we have called mobile aollaboration). In many cases, technology providers have been innovating, but the old view of the market from many industry analysts isn’t good for the market and it isn’t good for buyers.
The biggest shift is that the world has become visual. Video is the future.
Meetings and Calls: All About Voice and Video
Aragon was the first analyst firm to collapse web conferencing and video conferencing into one single lense of web and video conferencing (see the Aragon Research Globe for Web and Video Conferencing). We did that three years ago and when video conferencing providers were compared to web conferencing providers, there was skepticism. Today, it is the way the market works.
The market for voice and conference calling is alive and well. Many startups who lead with voice are doing very well. Look at 8×8, Fuze, and RingCentral for starters. Microsoft recognizes this and has launched the E5 version of Office 365. Google is doing more with video than with calls and in a recent report, we highlighted some of Google’s video strengths over Microsoft.
Messaging: The New Way Forward
A funny thing happened on the way to the office over the last nine years. Messaging has become one of the dominant forms of UCC. Apple iMessage is one of the top ways consumers interact. Today, you also hear about Slack nearly every day but Cisco, Unify, and many others are not standing still (see the Aragon Research Tech Spectrum for Mobile Collaboration). Yet today, there are many UC providers who do not yet have an answer for mobile collaboration.
Who Are the UCC Providers?
When we look at the breadth and depth of capabilities available today, there are still a number of camps:
- Large providers who offer legacy UC voice products, but have been working hard to expand their portfolio. Think Avaya, Cisco, Genband, Huawei, Microsoft, Polycom, and Unify.
- UCC startups who are not so small anymore: Representative vendors include 8×8, Fuze, RingCentral, and Zoom.
- Mobile collaboration providers who are adding a multitude of UCC capabilities: Atlasssian, CoTap, Jive, Mindlink, and Slack.
- Web and video conferencing is about meetings. Representative vendors include BlueJeans, Citrix, Google, LogMeIn, Lifesize, PGi, Vidyo, and Zoom.
- Webinar, webcasting and video streaming vendors include Brighttalk, Citrix, Cisco, Dacast, IBM, Kaltura, Livestream, MediaPlatform, On24, Qumu, Sonic Foundry, uStudio, and Vbrick.
Of course, that isn’t the complete list of providers. Aragon will be looking at the market from a holistic perspective going forward. While best-of-breed offerings will still meet specific needs, the new way forward is about UCC. Look at your current providers with UCC in mind. When we look at the market, we will be evaluating providers from both a best-of-breed and the more strategic UCC perspective.