The end-user study by Frost & Sullivan (enterprisecommunications.frost.com), Customer Insights on Unified Communications in Singapore, surveyed 150 CIOs (chief information officers), IT managers or directors, and technology decision-makers of large enterprises and SMBs (small and medium businesses) in Singapore. Respondents were mainly from the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), government, utilities, retail and wholesale, and manufacturing sectors.
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Other reasons for UC deployments include the convenience of a single infrastructure for maintenance and support, and the ability to integrate new communications applications. Nearly 75 percent of respondents see the importance of integrating telephony and desktop communication tools in their long-tem strategy.
Most enterprises however will deploy UC in a phased approach, adding applications over time based on company requirements, with only 32 percent of respondents showing interest in implementing integrated UC in the short term.
Apart from conventional telephony and e-mail applications, CIOs view conferencing applications, instant messaging and mobility solutions as the most important components of enterprise communications infrastructure in the long-term. Many enterprises believe that the use of these applications is vital to facilitate stronger collaboration and anytime-anywhere communication for internal users.
"Being a financial hub and the regional headquarters for many multinational companies, Singapore is one of the more mature markets in terms of adoption of UC applications," says Frost & Sullivan industry manager Jay Tan, adding that the use of telephony and e-mail as the main means of business communications is already widespread among businesses in Singapore.
Tan says, "The survey also reveals a growing use of conferencing solutions and services to meet the requirement for better collaboration across large enterprises and SMBs.
"While the migration towards IP communications is well underway, many local enterprises continue to hold on to their investments in legacy TDM (time-division multiplexing) telephony systems and will only gradually perform the migration towards IP when their current systems reach end of shelf-life," observes Tan.
"As such, most companies are likely to adopt the various UC applications on a standalone basis until the time comes for them to migrate to IP telephony or upgrade their e-mail systems," he adds.
Among the top concerns of enterprises in UC deployments are security, reliability of solutions, justifying cost of investment, and interoperability with existing infrastructure and between various applications.
"There continues to be significant doubts and lack of understanding about the potential vulnerabilities that various UC applications can bring into the enterprise infrastructure," notes Tan.
He points out that while most UC vendors tout the benefits of UC in transforming business processes, enterprises have yet to see significant evidence of tangible return on investments from their UC vendors and resellers.
UC implementation potentially involves costs in overhauling part of existing infrastructure, purchase of new application user licenses, middleware servers, and also a rise in bandwidth requirements. "The ability to integrate multiple vendors' solutions and leverage existing infrastructure will be important attributes that enterprises look for in their UC solution providers," says Tan.
He adds that the ability of UC solution providers to present a gradual migration roadmap, address potential security challenges, and ensure greater interoperability will be key in driving UC uptake among enterprises.
In terms of purchasing behaviour and vendor preference, the study shows that respondents are likely to have a strong preference for existing vendors they are already using, and a little over 50 percent of respondents prefer a multi-vendor approach to implement their UC infrastructure.
The Customer Insights on Unified Communications in Singapore market study is part of the Enterprise Communications Growth Partnership Service program, which also includes research in the following markets: UC quarterly trackers, UC end-user studies (selected countries), enterprise telephony quarterly trackers and annual study, and managed telephony services. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Analyst interviews are available to the press.
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