Looking for the “next big thing” occupies a lot of people's time, because so often, that next big thing represents serious opportunity. Frost & Sullivan recently released a report about just what that next big thing may be in the Australian unified communications (UC) market: enterprise messaging apps.
The report points to a growing number of start-up firms in the Australian market, which are bringing out an array of tools in messaging, as well as voice and video. The on-premises market for UC tools saw some growth between 2013 and 2014, pulling in 3.6 percent extra thanks to growth in conferencing and contact center tools. This growth came mainly from email and IP telephony applications. On-premises UC solutions are under fire thanks to large capital expenses, and that's part of why Frost & Sullivan expects big growth in apps.
Apps, in some cases, can step in to provide for low cost what would have been provided by heavy equipment in an on-premises deployment. Frost & Sullivan isn't expecting a complete or rapid switch, but rather that a hybrid environment will be on hand for some time.
With workers moving to IM platforms instead of email, voice, or SMS, the rise of messaging apps will simply follow as a means to give businesses what's most desired. Frost & Sullivan's research analyst for ICT practice in Australia and New Zealand, Wonjae Shim, noted that enterprise messaging was set to become “...the new primary interaction channel for enterprise users.” Shim elaborated, noting there were already several such tools on the market. Frost & Sullivan's head of ICT research in Australia and New Zealand, Audrey William, drove the point home by noting that revenues were on the decline in video conferencing and collaboration tools, but there was room for growth with multicontroller units, video bridges, and others. Companies like Acano and Pexip were already putting such tools to work, and with Cisco recently acquiring Acano, the major players seem to be sensing a sea change as well.
When employees of a business start turning overwhelmingly to a certain breed of communications, it's not surprising to see businesses take a particular interest in that tool. After all, if employees are most likely to use a certain tool, why bother investing in tools that won't be used near so much, if at all? Sure, there's something to be said for keeping up a phone presence, or for video conferencing—other companies' platform of choice, not to mention customers', may not be what the company itself uses—but knowing what gets used most allows the company to establish priorities.
Employees comfortable with a tool will use it most and ultimately get the most out of it. Businesses that recognize this are likely to come out ahead, and the Frost & Sullivan study seems to point out just where business is heading.