No buzz word remains top of mind forever, just as no technology trend stays front and center forever. So it is that “unified communications” has fallen off the list of Gartner’s (News
) “top 10” list of strategic priorities for enterprise information technology managers for 2010.
Unified communications has been one of a small handful of dominant IT technologies – or at least buzz words – for the past couple of years, but some marketers are substituting other words, especially “collaboration,” in its stead.
Gartner senior analyst Nick Jones is among the analysts who say UC is not top of mind in 2010. Frost & Sullivan (News
) research director Audrey William also says unified communications, though still important, is something organizations are still struggling to define and understand.
Another factor that makes organizations reluctant to jump too quickly is that unified communications affects a broad range of hardware and software, as well as business processes. A hasty decision could be costly so customers are taking their time to understand what they’re getting into while also waiting for the dust to settle in the industry.
That approach has merit, but that dust is also clearing. William said, “The market now only consists of a hand-full of vendors, so it’s even more important to understand the roadmap of some of these vendors and what role they will play during the next three to five years, because ultimately companies will be using one of these vendors’ solutions.”
Debate over the significance of unified communications as a technology continues with Gartner and Frost & Sullivan arguing that it is respectively, no longer a strategic priority and it’s an evolving technology still worth watching.
UC is complicated, though, as it affects virtually all other elements of an enterprise communications, making the choice of architecture a key decision, and one that most managers rightly would be cautious about making. Also, UC has many elements, so some managers seem to be taking a gradual, point solution approach.
Over the past year or two, for example, there has been more hype about video collaboration than about other voice-centric elements of UC. Given the “Great Recession” of 2008 through 2009, that probably isn’t too surprising, as many organizations have cut back business travel and are looking for reasonable substitutes.
Gartner’s top 10 strategic technologies for 2009, defined as having the “potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years,” as of January 2009:
2. Cloud computing
3. Servers (beyond blades)
4. Web oriented architectures
5. Enterprise mashups
6. Specialized systems
7. Social software / networking
8. Unified communications
9. Business intelligence
10. Green IT
The new list includes:
1. Cloud computing
2. Advanced analytics
3. Client computing
4. IT for green
5. Reshaping the data center
6. Social computing
8. Flash memory
10. Mobile applications
Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Erin Harrison