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Will all communications be unified in the future?

Many companies are getting on board with Unified Communications, but Jennifer Scott investigates whether this model is the way all business communications are set to go.

"The VoIP market at the large organisation end is reaching a level of penetration where the market has to slow down," said Longbottom.

However, he claimed the mid market and SMB spaces are now ripe for picking, if approached by telecoms companies in the right way.

"There are still good opportunities here, provided that the benefits can be sold correctly, that management of a UC environment can be provided as part of the package, and that a hybrid model that includes existing landlines and pbxs can be put forward that makes sense to the user," said Longbottom.

There is then a strong future ahead for the growth of UC, with prospects to reach into new markets and become an integral part of business' systems. But can this type of communication model ever be applied to every business in the UK?

As Longbottom pointed out, the word "all" is pretty big. Although the larger scale corporations can splash the cash to get new systems installed and reap the rewards, smaller companies may take longer and need more of a lead from telecoms providers.

There are also questions when it comes to the migration process itself.

"Moving numbers over from a multi-line landline system to VoIP is not that easy, and if the company has to change numbers, then it means reprinting stationery, business cards, changing web sites, directory entries and so on," said Longbottom.

Yet many see the outlay costs as worth the benefit in the long term and it is a feasible vision to see most companies with voice and data UC operating in the future.

The inclusion of video is unlikely to have such levels of adoption. Video conferencing has been knocking around for years, with evangelists always saying its time will come, but it never really took the market by storm. Integrate this with the rest of your comms and the risk of over complicating the offering becomes apparent.

"Video has still to prove itself," said Longbottom. "Although tele immersive systems are really good, they are very expensive and are still seen as being toys for execs."

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