Oru Mohiuddin (Research Manager)
Melissa Fremeijer (Senior Research Analyst)

The exceptionally rapid uptake of UC&C solutions in the past few weeks is expected to have a game-changing and lasting effect on the adoption of UC&C going forward.

After being forced to speedily deploy UC&C, businesses from all sizes and industry sectors will start to discover the cost efficiencies and improved business productivity UC&C brings to the table.

New Norms in the Post-COVID-19 World

The current health crisis created by COVID-19 undoubtedly is one of the strangest, if not the strangest, periods of our lifetime. Never before did our generation witness the world coming to a standstill with one billion people being confined to their homes, while mighty institutions collaborate to fight a threat of unprecedented magnitude posed by a microcosm called coronavirus.

While we can be optimistic that the current health crisis will eventually come under control, life as we have known prior to the virus will have changed forever. The restrictions on movement and physical engagements is compelling us to take our daily/usual activities to the virtual space which could eventually become the new norm.

In addition to people having to work from home, academic lessons are moving to the virtual space, doctors are consulting patients remotely, and people are shopping online more than ever. Even social interactions such as meeting friends for drinks, partying, dancing, and singing are now done online through video conferencing.

The popularity and use of video to connect socially will further lower the inhibition for people to use video in their work environments as well.

Although remote working, distance learning, telemedicine and so on are not new, the next step to UC&C as the default enterprise communications platform is its entrenchment in business applications to further optimize flows. It is not surprising that collaboration technology ranks as number 1 on our survey for IT spending during the COVID-19 period:

Expected Impact on Spending for Major Technology Areas
Source: IDC Buyer Poll — Impact of COVID-19 on European IT Investments

UC&C Players Come Forward to Help

UC&C players are allowing enterprises to scale up at no additional cost and offering specific vertical solutions particularly in the health and education sector. Some vendors have helped academic institutions to move their classes to the online space within a short time. Some others have donated their solutions to hospitals in some of the worst hit areas such as China to enable remote patient and consultant meetings.

Communication service providers (CSPs) are also stepping up (also jointly with UC&C vendors) in rolling out extra (network) capacity (WAN/LAN), and VPN access on the fly, for example. They are also helping with extra training of IT and workers to get everything up and running fast, in a secure way and to the best use.

User Experience Is Key in Establishing Goodwill and Credibility

UC&C vendors are offering enterprises the option to scale up at no extra cost. This will help develop goodwill which can be beneficial in the long run in terms of new business opportunities. That said, it needs to be associated with good user experience, which is a combination of features and functionality and the quality of overall service including backend support.

The massive uptake of collaboration tools, including video, leads to a spike in bandwidth demand and an equally large strain on deployed servers and networks. Therefore, it makes sense for UC&C vendors to, for example, lower quality (resolution) of the video sessions. This way it will alleviate bandwidth demand. However, it’s clear that this is not the quality users can normally expect.

In addition to bolstering back-end support for customers (together with CSPs and system integrators), easy to use (self-service) portals and advanced analytics will help IT to take proactive measures to keep latency and quality within the required parameters.

UC&C players will also need to overcome the challenge of onboarding a large bulk of new users in a relatively short time. This requires the necessary training and guidance to accelerate adoption and amplify the user experience.

A Crisis That Makes for a Compelling Use Case

The current situation is a true litmus test for the UC&C players challenging their actual capacity and capabilities in dealing with a sudden surge in demand. The current crisis presents these vendors and CSPs with a powerful source to develop a compelling use case in which they can demonstrate how well they responded to an urgent situation.

The timing, however, needs to be right, given that this could be misconstrued as being opportunistic. Hence, it is better to reserve it for when the situation has come under control.

 

If you want to learn more about this topic or have any questions, please contact Oru Mohiuddin or Melissa Fremeijer, or drop your details in the form on the top right.

If you want to know more about how COVID-19 will affect the technology landscape, see more resources here

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