This has placed the spotlight on unified messaging (UM), the technology that facilitates anywhere and anytime access to non-real-time messaging.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (conferencing.frost.com), North American Enterprise Voice and Unified Messaging Platform Markets, finds that the market earned revenues of $708.1 million in 2008, with UM contributing approximately 51 percent of the total enterprise voice and UM market revenues.
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The UM market may not have produced impressive numbers in 2008 but it has certainly made an impression on the minds of end-users. From being considered a "nice-to-have" application, UM has graduated into the "must-have" class.
So far, UM has had limited success because the effort and cost of adding UM infrastructure outweighed its potential productivity benefits. Today, however, due to the hype surrounding unified communications (UC), which includes UM as an integral part of a comprehensive Internet protocol (IP) communications solution, UM adoption and demand -- not necessarily revenues -- are expected to increase.
"While the deployments of advanced UC solutions are currently limited to corporate customers, full-blown UM solutions that offer much more than just a single interface access to email, VM, and fax are widely available and ready to deploy," explains Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Alaa Saayed. "Today, a second-generation UM license includes calendar access, find me/follow me (call routing), mobile access to corporate messages, video messages, speech technologies, live call management, and even presence capabilities."
Nevertheless, the availability of more features is no guarantee of greater sales. Trying economic conditions, increased bundling of solutions wherein UM is part of a larger user license along with telephony and mobility, and even the giving away of free messaging licenses by some telephony vendors are curtailing the inflow of revenue and narrowing the margins from UM.
The poor form of the market could extend through 2009 if business customers start cutting costs by extending the life of their existing messaging platforms and apply a stepped approach to UM instead of revamping the whole solution. They may also start selecting products and vendors based on price rather than strategic value and invest in technologies with apparent benefits (conferencing) instead of softer ones (UM).
This situation will change once businesses start replacing their legacy messaging systems, IP telephony systems witness increased deployment, and second-generation UM products evolve either into possible pathways to UC or productivity solutions for mobile or remote workers (virtual office).
"Vendors can sustain and even grow their messaging revenues by providing evidence of a compelling return on investment (ROI), betting on open standards, seeking key partnerships, and even exploring the global market," observes Saayed. "Market revenue can be augmented by offering different migration strategies, using UM as a conduit to UC, providing key mobility options, and expanding vertical focus."
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North American Enterprise Voice and Unified Messaging Platform Markets / N4EA