Wednesday, 20 November 2013 17:40

Pressure on vendors to keep or grow marketshare in ICT ‘year of transformation’


The ICT industry is predicted to go through a huge transformation next year, with cloud and mobility the two main themes driving significant change and disruption in the ICT market.

That’s the prediction of analyst firm Frost & Sullivan who also say that the transformation will see many traditional  ICT  vendors  struggling to grow or even maintain their marketshare.

According to Frost & Sullivan’s Head of Research, ICT Practice, Audrey William, Microsoft Lync will become a more disruptive force in the UC market in 2014. “Although  still  a relatively new player in Unified Communications with low market share, Microsoft has been gaining momentum in the last 12 months and has grown enough to be pose a threat to traditional UC vendors.”

“Channels  and  customers now regard Microsoft seriously and channels and IT integrators  that used to sell only traditional telephony solutions are now incorporating Microsoft Lync into their product mix.

“Lync 2013 offers close to  95%  PBX functionality. Increasingly, the adoption of Lync is a natural progression  for companies using Active Directory, Sharepoint and Microsoft e-mail.  

“These  companies  are  now  moving  to  Lync  for  IM,  presence, collaboration  and  voice.”

Harpur says that Frost & Sullivan anticipates that traditional market  participants  in the Unified Communications space will increasingly feel the pressure from Microsoft in 2014.

Other predictions for the ICT industry in 2014 by Frost & Sullivan include:

•    High usage of Apps will compel organisations to take enterprise mobility discussions seriously

As  mobile devices are increasingly used for business, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)  and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) will become important themes for businesses  in  developing a mobility strategy. Whilst the device itself is one part of the equation, greater challenges lie in how to manage apps, how to  control  which  apps  should  be allowed and disallowed from employees’ devices  and having the right security measures in place as part of a wider enterprise  mobility  strategy.  Given  the  sheer  volume  of  devices and applications  being  used by employees, security is very critical for every organisation  and  specialist  Mobile  Device  Management (MDM) vendors and security  vendors will play crucial roles. Security has been highlighted inFrost  &  Sullivan’s  research  as  the  single  biggest challenge faced by organisations in implementing an enterprise mobility strategy.

Cloud  based MDM applications as well as cloud based private enterprise App stores  will  become  more  relevant  in 2014. Some of the benefits include greater  control  over  which apps are used by employees. An enterprise App store also allows employees to download apps that have been approved by the organisation,  without  the  need  to  worry  about security or reliability issues.

•    The rise of the Internet of Things

Frost & Sullivan estimates that there will be close to 80 billion connected devices  by  2020  globally.   M2M (machine-to-machine  communication)  is growing  rapidly,   and  we  will see rapid growth in the number of devices with  smart  sensors,  RFID  tags  and  other  intelligent input and output automated   sensory  systems,  enabling  high  level  connectivity  between machines,  devices  and  individuals.  This  will lead to innovation in how services  are  delivered  in  industries  such  as  Healthcare, Automotive,logistics,  Transportation,  Retail  and  Mining. Frost & Sullivan believes that  the  impact  of  IT  on  multiple industries will become increasingly pronounced over the next year.

•    Telecommunication vendors will increasingly play a critical role in the delivery of ICT

With  cloud  and mobility driving significant change within businesses, the role  of  telecommunications  service providers will become more prominent. Frost & Sullivan believes that telecommunication vendors will ramp up their service  offerings across cloud, mobility, managed hosting, contact centres and enterprise communication services. Telstra is a good example of a telco that  is  driving  the delivery of enterprise communication services out of its NAS (Network Application Services) division. Although telecommunication providers  will  face  competition  from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) players  such  as  Amazon  Web  Services,  they  will  play an increasingly important  role  in the delivery, management and hosting of cloud services. Additionally,  in  the  era  of the Internet of Everything and of mobility, telcos  will  play  an  increasingly  vital  role  in  the  delivery of ICT services.

•    UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) will be the norm

As  organisations  come to the end of the life cycle of their telephony and other   UC  technologies,  many  are  either  returning  to  a  traditional on-premise  UC  solution  or moving to a hosted or cloud-based UC solution. Vendors and integrators that do not develop hosted or cloud-based offerings will  find  it  increasingly difficult to compete in the UC market in 2014. Frost  &  Sullivan  has  observed  a  similar  shift  to  the  cloud in the videoconferencing  segment,  with  solutions from vendors such as BlueJeans starting  to  become more prominent. Although there is still a large market for  on-premise videoconferencing solutions, many organisations are looking at  hosted  and  cloud-based  offerings  that can reduce their professional services and maintenance costs.

•    Further disruption in Enterprise Communications will be caused by WebRTC

It  is still early days for WebRTC (Web Real-time Communication), but Frost &  Sullivan predicts this technology will really take off in the Enterprise Communications market. Vendors, channels and telcos are already starting to discuss  potential  adoption.  At this stage, from a Unified Communicationsand  Contact Centre market perspective, there are still questions about how rich  the  features  will  be  in terms of multimedia capabilities, and how scalable  the  solution will be. However, browser-to-browser communications could  eventually  lessen  the  need for telephony devices and peripherals.Communicating  will  be as easy as clicking a link that will allow the user to  make  a  voice or video call. Cisco and Mozilla announced recently that the  free  and  open  distribution  of the H.624 codec means that these two companies  can collaborate for real-time streaming of online video from the browser without plugins. The WebRTC space will be one to watch in 2014, and we  can  expect  more  announcements from Enterprise Communications vendors over the coming year.

•    Google, Amazon will be a growing threat to ICT vendors

Although  Google’s  penetration into the Enterprise Communications space is currently  well  behind traditional vendors that have been selling into the voice  and  video  markets, Google has all the right pieces in place to now make significant inroads into the market.

A  number  of  large  organisations  have moved to Google’s cloud mail, and Frost  & Sullivan expects more organisations will follow in 2014. Google is also working on upgrades to its video Hangouts, to be better able to handle high  definition video. This could potentially challenge traditional vendor offerings.  In  2014,    more  integrators  will offer hosted telephony for enterprise  grade  voice  services from their own hosted telephony solution and  bundle  in Google Hangouts as a hosted/cloud offering for enterprises. Google  is  also  working  on  a  number of ambitious plans in the areas of cloud,  big  data  and  the  internet  of things. Google’s influence in the enterprise space will only get stronger.

Amazon  Web  Services  will  continue  to  grow fast in 2014. Although many companies  will  continue  to buy servers and storage from the likes of HP, IBM  and  Dell, a growing number of organisations now feel comfortable with buying  servers  and  storage  in  the  cloud for a fraction of the cost of on-premise storage.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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