The Wainhouse Research Blog
News & Views
on Unified Communications & Collaboration
Bill Haskins—Unified Communications
Microsoft and Cisco have been engaged in a longstanding war for the top UC vendor position. In 2015, Microsoft retained its number one spot based on WR End User UC survey data - with twice as many users reporting the use of Skype for Business over Cisco's Jabber client (43% MS vs 21% Cisco). However, when we asked IT Decision Makers what UC Platform they have deployed in a production environment, Cisco edged MS out for the first time (48% Cisco vs 46% MS). We think the momentum is currently in Cisco's favor for a number of reasons, including their expanded Spark Collaboration Cloud, and market questions and potential delays as enterprises work to understand the new Office 365 E5 offering and its place in their SfB strategy. If this momentum holds true, we'd expect to see almost a dead heat at the desktop in 2016, with end users reporting Jabber as their primary UC client within 5-10 percentage points of Skype for Business.
Andrew W. Davis – Visual Communications
The bottom will fall out of the VCaaS market as differentiation between services disappears and as per user per month (PUPM) pricing hitting new low points. This will drive channel strategies towards direct selling as a survival requirement.
The core video conferencing infrastructure market (MCUs, gateways, gatekeepers, NAT/firewall traversal) will decline by 30% in 2016 as i) customers delay purchase decisions while they evaluate cloud options and ii) infrastructure products themselves drop in price as they transition to software running on virtual servers.
Ira M. Weinstein and Saar Litman – Visual Communications and Audio / Visual
A New AV Control Mentality - The “mindset” around enterprise meeting room control solutions will start to shift toward all-IP, IT-friendly, lower cost solutions. This will be driven largely by global organizations seeking to simplify and scale meeting room control and monitoring, and will be embraced (to some degree) by both legacy vendors and perhaps a few new entrants to the space.
The Year of “ME” – Despite years of hype around mobile video conferencing, the reality is that the value of mobile devices in the AV and VC space has been relatively limited. In 2016, we’ll see more solutions that allow (or even depend on) users to authenticate and identify themselves as they enter the meeting room. These solutions will leverage the identified person’s schedule, contact lists, and workflow preferences to provide a custom, personalized meeting experience. So that meeting room around the corner will become “MY” meeting room once I authenticate.
At Least One VC Ankle-Biter Will Disappear – During 2016, at least one existing group video conferencing vendor will leave the market – either by choosing to drop their VC product line, or as a result of being acquired by a larger player with an existing portfolio of products.
Alan D. Greenberg – Distance Education and e-Learning
At least one new category of products or use cases are going to begin to gain greater visibility in educational technology circles. One of them could be Learning Relationship Managers (LRMs), a new category of platform that combines the elements of e-portfolios, mentoring, analytics, learning communities, coaching and communications hubs, and more. The rationale for this new category is that – with a few exceptions – most Learning Management Systems have failed to provide a holistic ability to create a context for learner-centricity – and then measure outcomes. I’ll explain this one throughout the course of the year but it’s definitely the coming thing. Another might be in the category of use cases: I believe we will begin to see products like Zoom, Fuze by ThinkingPhones, Blue Jeans Network, Shindig and others start to be used for more real-time educational events – particularly in K-12 markets – outside of the classroom.
This is the year of the human. Shocked, aren’t you? I’ll explain: the hype cycle that has surrounded collaborative ed tech has been deafening for the last five years. VC’s and private equity funds have circled around startups and established vendors alike, sinking a ton of money into platforms that may or may not have really solved education market needs. In concert with the LRM concept, this is the year that vendors get back to understanding that tech can’t just be dropped in the laps of educators. How will I measure this by year end? I don’t know yet – maybe anecdotally or through survey work that shows that more is being invested in resources for educators to more easily adopt ed tech.
The nascent category of ideation software (see Nureva, Bluescape, Stormboard, etc.) will begin to grow but only after somebody comes up with a better term than what is being used today: ideation. This category attempts to digitize a process with which everyone is familiar: sticky notes, flipcharts, war rooms, consultant project rooms. Heady stuff that goes above and beyond what we all know from whiteboarding and team workspaces – which means it just might fight the same battle collaboration has fought in becoming better understood. Let’s see: head software? Group brainstorming software (GBS!) Give me some ideas here, folks!
Andy Nilssen – Web Conferencing / Personal Collaboration Spaces
According to WR’s 2H 2015 WebMetrics survey, 21% of panelists use Skype for Business (or Lync) for their day-to-day web conferencing solution vs. 34% who use WebEx. With the momentum behind it, however, I predict SfB will overtake WebEx as the leading provider of web conferencing as shown by WebMetrics respondents by the end of 2016.
All is not rosy for Microsoft however. The company does not have an offering that directly addresses the “email replacement” buzz created by Slack, HipChat, Cisco Spark and other Persistent Collaboration Spaces (PCS) offerings – and yes, we are aware of Groups for Office 365. Thus Microsoft will acquire a true, designed from-the-ground-up PCS offering in 2016 (there are many to choose from).
Steve Vonder Haar – Streaming and Webcasting
More Multicast Alternatives Emerge: Enterprises relying on multicast networking capabilities in the past year have seen viable options dwindle. Microsoft’s decision to eliminate support for multicast distribution from the new iteration of its Windows Media server has left many enterprises casting about for viable multicasting options. VBrick has tried to bridge the gap by integrating multicast capabilities from the Adobe Flash platform into its solution. Meanwhile, Ramp introduced a browser plug-in capable of handling multicast video distribution. However, some users are leery of the solution because of its use of Java. In the year ahead, expect platform vendors to roll out additional software solutions that aspire to address the multicast networking challenge in a more elegant manner.
Product Disaggregation Takes Root: Look for more streaming platform vendors to identify specific feature sub-sets that can be packaged and sold as stand-alone solutions. Some streaming technology developers, such as Brightcove and Haivision, already embrace the idea of selling specific platform features as stand-alone products. For 2016, the push for this type making products out of existing platform features will merely accelerate.
Redmond Rolls In: Long lurking in the background of the enterprise streaming segment with its hosted Azure platform, Microsoft in 2016 will finally be poised to establish a leadership role in promoting and evangelizing the adoption of streaming in the enterprise. Azure – already providing the technology infrastructure for Microsoft streaming initiatives such as the Office 365 video portal and Skype for Business Broadcast – will take a higher profile role in providing streaming platforms directly to enterprise users. Azure’s role in hosting and distributing streaming solutions and features developed by other vendors also will be expanded. With Microsoft still dabbling around the edges of the streaming market for now, expect its enterprise streaming prominence to become more pronounced in the second half of 2016.