Unify Square reveals top predictions for 2016

Unify Square, the leading provider of software, consulting and managed services for Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync), today revealed its top predictions for enterprise adoption of Unified Communications (UC) and Skype for Business in 2016. As an elite partner of Microsoft, Unify-Squared developed its predictions based on experiences helping over fifty of the top Fortune 500 enterprises succeed with their Skype for Business initiatives.

Unify Square’s leadership team, made up of former Microsoft Skype for Business product visionaries and architects, expects significant strides in enterprise adoption of Skype for Business seats in the year of 2016. At the same time, in an effort to boost ROI, IT decision-makers will become more proactive about adding cloud capabilities to their deployments, which will result in an increased focus on the hybrid environments of Unified Communications. Meanwhile, as Microsoft continues to increase its market share in the Unified Communications arena, the company plans to gradually challenge the carrier’s role in enterprise of voice as IT pushes for centralized consolidation in order to ease complexity of managing multiple communications and collaboration contracts. Additionally, as enterprises experience accelerated ROI from Skype for Business deployments, IT will increasingly “right-size” their Unified Communications budgets to set their global initiatives up for long-term success over the coming years.

Sonu Aggarwal, CEO of Unify Square, predicts the following:

Skype for Business Has the Potential to Exceed 100 Million Enterprise Seats by 2018

Microsoft has made its ambitions well known as Satya Nadella announced his goal to triple revenue earned from its cloud-computing business to $20 billion by the end of the year 2018. This side of Microsoft’s many innovative businesses, which includes Office 365, is already demonstrating impressive adoption numbers, growing more than 300% from 2014 (7.7% to 25.2%). Since Microsoft began integrating Skype for Business into the Office 365 preview back in July, more than 4,000 companies have started using the new services – a number that continues to grow by 20% each week. If Microsoft can keep up this rate of adoption, Skype for Business will match Office 365’s penetration (and may perhaps even help to pull Office 365 along) in terms of enterprise deployment and consumption.

Issues with End-User Satisfaction Will Drive “Right-Sized” IT Budgets for Unified Communications Initiatives

End-user adoption and satisfaction are the ultimate source of truth when measuring the success of any Unified Communications deployment. However, up to this point, enterprises have focused primarily on Skype for Business deployment, and have often overlooked many of the “surrounding” factors that facilitate success. As IT departments discover the importance of connecting the dots between Unified Communications ROI and end-user adoption, we’ll see increased IT awareness of the many components that help such initiatives succeed – including planning, user adoption, program management, site cut-overs, monitoring/reporting tools, automation, appropriate staffing and/or external support. Correspondingly, enterprises will increase IT budgets by at least 10% for Microsoft Unified Communications to cover the end-to-end factors ensuring success, while still delivering significant OpEx savings relative to legacy or alternative approaches. As one example, according to Gartner estimates, by 2019 end-user VoIP and Unified Communications monitoring will be prerequisites for 60% of mainstream network performance monitoring and diagnostics tool procurement, up from 20% in 2015.

Microsoft’s Growing UC Dominance Will Make Interoperability Concerns a “Thing of the Past”

New survey data found 35% of enterprise respondents currently run Skype for Business for enterprise voice and 24% are in the process or planning to standardize on Microsoft’s platform – nearly double that of the closest competitor. The movement towards standardization is further validated by Nemertes, which interviewed 50 senior IT leaders across 45 global organizations and found nearly half of users plan to consolidate on a single Unified Communications vendor by the end of 2016. Further, putting an end to what was originally a Microsoft Unified Communications Achilles Heel, the Skype for Business platform is now considered quite mature in its ability to deliver strong enterprise voice telephony. The key triple play of 1) the aforementioned standardization trend; 2) the seamless integration of a strong meetings and voice play in the form of Skype for Business into Office 365; and 3) Microsoft’s ongoing position of strength in enterprise IT, will alleviate most of the burden for interoperability across Unified Communications platforms and ease management concerns.

Hybrid Cloud Deployments of Skype for Business Will Be the Norm

A recent No Jitter poll of 259 IT professionals found 30% of respondents have already adopted a hosted cloud service for some Skype for Business functionality, and 33% are evaluating hosted functionality for future implementation. Similarly, IDG analysts expect 54% of enterprises will implement a hybrid cloud Unified Communications model over the next two years as solutions become more robust and sophisticated. In spite of that data, enterprises will be purposefully slow to embrace a full cloud PBX architecture for various security and availability reasons. Together with its Skype for Business Online partner ecosystem, Microsoft’s aggressive Unified Communications cloud emphasis will help to accelerate this adoption of the hybrid model and lay the groundwork for full enterprise cloud migrations over the next three to five years.

Microsoft Will Deepen Its Market Conflict with Carriers

Gartner expects Skype for Business, as a telephony solution, to continue its rapid adoption rate and earn a top three spot as a global telephony provider by the end of 2016. This increased adoption of enterprise voice with Skype for Business Online will challenge the old-school carrier model by moving the lion’s share of minutes on-net and delivering meeting and voice capabilities through a single provider. Over the course of 2016 and beyond, this migration will accelerate, further displacing the roles a majority of carriers have traditionally played in the enterprise. A handful of “progressive” carriers, will choose to embrace the new realities rather than protect their legacy businesses – thereby setting themselves up to drive larger enterprise market share, taking share away from “old school” carriers, over the next three years.

“The Unified Communications market has traditionally been a fragmented market, but in 2016 we see Microsoft’s Skype for Business in the limelight and significantly accelerating the dynamics of the market,” said Sonu Aggarwal, CEO of Unify-Squared. “Global enterprises have proven the ROI of standardizing on a Unified Communications platform, and Skype’s mass end-user appeal is making Skype for Business emerge as the natural leader in the global enterprise segment. As we head into 2016, we are seeing an increasing fraction of CIOs worldwide commit to multi year journeys (and corresponding Unified Communications investment increases) around enterprise-wide Microsoft Enterprise Voice, based on solid business cases delivering 30-50% cost savings relative to current telecommunications estates. These strategic CIO-led Unified Communications journeys are where trusted Microsoft partners like Unify Square can be significant assets driving these initiatives towards lasting success.”