UC growth forecast: cloudy with a strong chance of big money

If forecasts are correct, billions more dollars will flood the UC market.

Desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, VoIP phones and smartwatches are only some of the tools professionals are now including in day-to-day operations. From the business's perspective, the benefits of making so many communication portals available to employees are the ostensible gains in productivity.

In theory, workers should get more done using devices they are comfortable with. This is part of the impetus behind bring your own device, which has become a hotly debated, albeit tenured trend in workplaces everywhere.

Of course, keeping all of these devices connected to the network falls on the shoulders of the employer. This includes creating a system that lets workers collaborate across operating systems and devices, and in many cases, to do so from outside the office, and even over mountains and across oceans.

Enter unified communications, a market poised for growth 

The benefits of streamlining communication and collaboration have not been lost on enterprises or small and medium-sized businesses, and the proof is in the numbers: The global UC market will likely be worth $75.81 billion by 2020, according to a study conducted by Grand View Research Inc in September 2015. This represents a 16.3 percent compound annual growth rate from 2014 to 2020.

Grand View cited several catalysts for these massive projections. One of the drivers is expected to be improved access to high-speed Internet, which is essentially what makes UC tools such as VoIP systems, unified messaging and video conferencing possible. Even the most comprehensive, interoperable UC platform will falter without reliable Internet access.

"The global UCaaS market alone is forecast to reach a value of $37.85 billion by 2022."

But a slightly less obvious growth driver highlighted by Grand View's research will be in the health care, government and educational sectors. The traditional market for UC vendors has been large enterprises, and has recently expanded to include SMBs and startups thanks to the flexibility and monthly cost structure of cloud UC. That said, technology and mobility trends are not industry-agnostic, and this means more sectors stand to gain from implementing UC.  

Cloud UC will make it rain

Unified communications as a service will likely be responsible for a significant portion of the market's growth. The global UCaaS market alone is forecast to reach a value of around $37.85 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 23.4 percent counting from 2014, according to a study via Transparency Market Research released this summer. Given Grand View' estimate of $75.81 billion by 2020, math tells us that UCaaS may account for about half of this value. A lot can happen in five years, but should the predictions of both studies corroborate and come to fruition, Cloud UC will make it rain money.

UCaaS is scalable and more affordable than on-premises UC.UCaaS is scalable and generally more affordable than on-premises UC.

Transparency Market Research's study cited several overlapping growth drivers with Grand View's research, including increased adoption of UCaaS in health care and government organizations. Traditionally, Cloud UC delivered as a service has been preferred by SMBs due to the business agility it affords growing companies; UCaaS often functions on a pay-per-user basis, which means that with each new employee, the cost of the service rises, and vice versa.

What's more, cloud UC is typically far more affordable to deploy than on-premises UC. However, TMR found that UCaaS is gaining a significant following among larger enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region. Nevertheless, the study asserts that North America will continue to represent the largest market.

The future of UC is cloudy, and if the forecasts from these research firms and others are correct, billions more dollars will soon flood the market. It's a good time to be a cloud UC vendor.