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Unifying Communication: Ensuring Digital Transformation

July 29, 2015

In APAC, India has become the key market for unified communication solutions. According to 6Wresearch, India's unified communication market is projected to reach $1,321.2 million by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 10.2% during 2015-21. "The country's unified communication market touched $470 million in 2014. Over the next six years, market will keep growing due to surging demand for video conferencing solutions," says Rajat Kharbanda, Senior Consultant, 6Wresearch.

The high demand that we see in India for these technologies is coming not only from the private sector, but also the government. To ensure better collaboration between the far-flung offices of different departments and institutions, the government is deploying video conferencing in a major way. The Digital India initiative, which seeks to connect 2.5 lakh villages with high-speed broadband, will bring further growth to the unified communications and video conferencing market.

Minhaj Zia, Managing Director - India and SAARC, Polycom, asserts that government is the most crucial vertical for the UC & C business. "In order to grapple with budgetary pressures and meet the increasing demands from citizens, the government departments have to deploy technology that will lead to better communication and collaboration. A collaborative approach leads to greater interaction and engagement between various wings of the government and their stakeholders," says Zia.

"We are working on low cost solutions, which can be deployed in primary schools or primary healthcare clinics in villages after the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is established. These solutions needs to be re-engineered as we have to look at massive scale to serve the entire market. We are waiting eagerly for the NOFN project to be completed, as it will lead to a huge growth in demand from the government for UC & C systems," adds Zia.

Mobility for Better Collaboration

Kharbanda of 6Wresearch points out that the global enterprise video conferencing market is dipping, due to the advent of software and cloud based solutions for collaboration; however, the Unified Communication market is in the phase of a healthy growth rate.

"Enterprise segment is the key revenue generating segment for India's unified communication market. The growth is due to the surging enterprise mobility market in India that has been growing tremendously due to the rising popularity of the mobility systems and the cloud networks. Enterprise mobility has improved the productivity and efficiency of the employees, who are increasingly using IP telephony, video conferencing system, etc. India's Enterprise Mobility market is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 40% in the next 6 years," says Kharbanda.

One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the rising need for information sharing among various organisations. Tata Teleservices considers the adoption of IP Telephony by enterprises the primary reason for the growth of unified communication industry. Prateek Pashine, Head, Enterprise Business, Tata Teleservices, says "For any enterprise, unified communications is the new paradigm for employee collaboration. Therefore the solutions in this space need to be accessible from anywhere and any device, i.e., PCs, smartphones and tablets. At Tata Docomo Enterprise Business, we are focusing on creating cost effective solutions that will simplify the collaboration process for our customers."

"As users embrace a plethora of new devices, we are seeing the convergence of IT and mobile applications, because these users want to access business applications on their mobile devices - smartphones and Tablets. Businesses also believe that mobilising these applications will improve productivity of the employees (especially the mobile workforce), bring in process efficiencies due to process automation and most importantly improve the overall responsiveness of the employees to end customers and partners alike."

Reaping Benefits of Cloud Computing

The key factor enabling enterprises to deploy cost effective and scalable UC solutions is the availability of cloud based solutions. Sandeep Mehra, Director, Collaboration Sales, Cisco India & SAARC, says, "We are seeing a significant push towards the cloud in terms of hosted and managed services. This is primarily because these systems provide customers with tremendous agility, along with lower risk and the ability to scale quickly."

"In many organisations, video has become the standard medium. While voice and IP telephony adoption continues, the major transformation is taking place around the business of video. The earlier challenges around affordability and user experience, have been addressed through multiple innovations in this space. The stage is now set for increased adoption. Another growth area is around conferencing, where adoption has traditionally occurred in silos of audio, video, and web, each with unique adoption curves. The current focus is on unifying all these mediums," says Mehra. He informs that Cisco's latest collaboration meeting rooms have been designed to work across platforms and devices and ensure that all mediums come together to offer users a single, seamless unified experience in the cloud.

Alok Lall, Director - Microsoft Office Division (MOD), Microsoft India, is of the view that the area of Enterprise Social is a key pillar of Microsoft's commitment to help people get the full benefits of cloud computing. With Office, SharePoint, Skype for Business, Dynamics CRM, and Yammer, Microsoft has the expertise, portfolio, capabilities, vision and insight to make the future for workplace collaboration a reality.

Microsoft Office 365 provides organisations with a suite of productivity tools. Office comes complete with integrated email, social networking and collaboration tools along with Lync, SharePoint, cloud storage and Office Web apps.

The company has recently launched 'Skype for Business' which initially started as a tool for communication among the employees. Through 'Skype for Business' a person can add up to 250 people to online meetings. The system comes with enterprise-grade security, it allows management of employee accounts, and is integrated into the Office apps. It now has features like multi-party HD video and content sharing and can even support interactive meetings.

"For businesses in India, cloud technologies are here to stay. In the light of this trend, we feel it's important to educate partners and extend all possible support to help them journey to the cloud. By so doing, we can ensure they move up in terms of the business activities they perform," says Lall.

Expansion Story of SME

As per the estimates of 6Wresearch, India's SME base is anticipated to touch 71.3 million by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 5.1% in the period 2015-21. This will significantly boost the market for unified communication solutions. "We are seeing a huge growth in the SMB and the mid-market segment. From large enterprises we are seeing growth in a single digit, but in the mid-market, SMBs and the new customers we have registered a huge growth in the resent past. In fact as per our go-to-market strategy we have expanded our reach within one year time in the SMB sectors from 40 cities to almost 70 cities in India," says Zia of Polycom.

Another rising domain for the company within SMB sector is the academic centers/ tutorials space, which is expanding rapidly within the country and have crores of turnover. The demand for coaching classes in big cities has gone up. Polycom has recently taken new orders from multiple coaching institutes.

Zia informs that few coaching centers are currently deploying UC & VC solutions to ensure that the lectures being conducted in one location can be broadcast live to students based in some other location. They are also recording the lectures and playing it whenever required. The big problem that such institutions face is that of quality teachers, but through modern technology it is possible to access the best virtualised teachers and take them to every classroom.

Software Based Solution

The ongoing shift to software-centric solutions and cloud services is creating challenges for the vendors, it is also opening new opportunities for growth. Prakash Satyanarayan, Vice President and Head of Telecom & Networking Business, Tata Elxsi, explains that currently, the transition is taking place from hardware-based video conferencing solutions to software-based solutions. With the explosion of mobile devices for both personal and business use, and growing utilisation of cloud-based services, companies will continue to shift from hardware video conferencing to software-based solutions.

"We are witnessing a major change in the video conferencing industry, as the manufacturers are shifting their priorities and moving from specialised hardware systems to software solutions. This is because there is vast rise in customer interest in software-centric solutions. The real-time browser-based communication systems are posing a huge challenge to the video equipment market," says Satyanarayan of Tata Elxsi. He informs that Tata Elxsi has been working with the video conference product companies in helping them transition their hardware centric products to cloud platform and virtual environment (SDN/NFV).

"The focus for many video conferencing providers will be to bring all of the new and existing technologies, hardware and software, together. One example of such a solution are the newly emerging software-based MCUs (multipoint control unit) that will enable organisations to deploy software across their own IT infrastructure, so that every individual can have his own personal HD video, audio and mobile meeting space," adds Satyanarayan.

Innovations through Video Conferencing

"Today we have projects in India for communication-enabling IoT through video conferencing. Some of our customers are using Google Glass, integrated with our video solution Scopia, to deliver instant collaboration between branches and manufacturing sites for quick and efficient problems resolution. We also have customers who are leveraging video-conferencing to build what we call video-enabled teller machines, extending the call center capabilities to unmanned branches and enabling customers to have video-based customer experience through these kiosks," says Sadhanand Rajanga, Head Video Sales - India & SAARC, Avaya.

Avaya's video-conferencing solutions are integrated with the video teller machines of the top 10 banks in China. Recently this kind of system has been introduced in the Middle East and some parts of Africa. This solution is currently being tested in India by few of Avaya's enterprise clients. The R&D team of Avaya in India has recently developed a system to deploy video conferencing for telemedicine purposes. In this system, the ambulance staff use Google Glass to transmit live footage of the patient to the healthcare staff at the hospital.

Media Source: Financial Express

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