Unified communications mainly used in the corporate market

Just under a quarter of Belgian corporate sites with 50 or more employees has indicated they use one or more Unified Communications solutions. The growth rate of recent years seems to be slowing down. Market segmentation reveals that these solutions are used the least by public authorities, education institutions and healthcare institutions. Only 1 out of 8 sites in these segments said they use Unified Communications. This is 40 percent for Multinational sites in 2016. National Enterprises are still well above average. These are companies with 250 to 2500 employees in Belgium. The rest of the surveyed group are Medium Sized Businesses, i.e. commercial businesses with 50 to 250 employees in Belgium. Unified Communications is used in this segment at about the same level as for public authorities, i.e. 1 out of 8 sites. These are the results of a Computer Profile analysis based on interviews with more than 3000 Belgian business sites during the past 12 months.

Skype for Business, the successor of Lync and OCS, is Microsoft’s frequently played trump card for Unified Communications. The majority of sites indicating they have a Unified Communications solutions are using Skype for Business. This application is found at nearly 16 percent of all sites. While previously Lync was a dedicated server solution, Skype for Business is available as an (on-premises) server version as well as via the Office 365 licence. Some of the Skype for Business penetration is actually the result of the increased use of O365. Whether and to which extent the Unified Communication features are actually used within the O365 licence is not always clear.

Around 7 percent of Belgian sites indicate they use other Unified Communications solutions besides Skype for Business. They represent the 22 percent of sites with Unified Communications.

It has proven difficult to find a uniform definition for Unified Communications. For example, Wikipedia (the English language version) mentions 19 different elements that may be involved in Unified Communications. Vendors who are active in this market cover all or some of the mentioned functionalities with their solutions. As such, vendors may consider each other as being complementary partners, competitors, or not related at all.

The majority of Unified Communications solutions generally  has to do with Skype for Business. Microsoft’s share increases with the size of the sites. Following on the heels of Microsoft, Cisco is the most popular vendor for Unified Communications solutions. Around 11 percent of Unified Communications solutions are a Cisco solution. Unify (previously Siemens Enterprise Communications) accounts for about 7 percent of the total, Mitel about 5 percent of the total.

VIDEO CONFERENCING IN DECLINE

Video conferencing solutions may be a standard component of a Unified Communications solution, however, this is not always the case. The target group was therefore surveyed separately about their use of video conferencing.

15 percent of the surveyed business sites (with 50 or more employees) said they use video conferencing solutions. A year ago this was 19 percent and two years ago 22 percent. The falling trend in the use of video conferencing is also visible in the Netherlands where its use is at a similar level (14%) as in Belgium. This mainly concerns the classic solutions for video conferencing. Online collaboration solutions such as Webex, GoToMeeting and Skype (for Business) are not included in these figures.

The most popular vendor for these solutions is still Polycom. More than 4 out of 10 solutions are provided by Polycom. Their competitor Mitel made a take-over bid for Polycom this year in April but they were eventually held off by the investment company Siris Capital. Cisco with its acquired Tandberg range and own video conferencing solutions is the second largest supplier after Polycom. Lifesize is the last of the top 3 vendors. The company was carved off from Logitech and continues as an independent company.