My 2017 “Predictions”
Matt Christopher, VP Customer Experience

December 7, 2016

‘Tis the Season
We have finished the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers and the festive holiday season is upon us. It’s a time to reflect on the closing year and to start planning for 2017. I did not have a blog post about my predictions for 2016, so I have nothing to reflect on and determine where I may have missed the boat. Instead, I can just create some predictions for 2017. Then, the key will be to generate enough blog posts in 2017 so that no one wants to take the time to go back and find these predictions to point out where I was wrong. Rest assured, if I am right (in any way), I will find these predictions and highlight my success. I promise.
#1 – UC Explosion
I feel like this is one of those predictions that has probably been made by most industry pundits every year for the past decade. We have been on the verge of an explosion of UC deployments, especially Microsoft UC, for many years now. Every year however, it seems Microsoft has done something to make the market pause. A couple of the big ones were the re-branding from Lync to Skype for Business (November 2014) and Cloud PBX (July 2015).
We are already in December and there have been no such announcements, so I have some confidence the market can proceed with their Skype for Business rollout without the fear of being obsolete within 12 months. Also, UC has been in the market long enough to have proven itself reliable and robust enough for almost all enterprise communication needs.
#2 – Less Cloudy Skies
The buzz about the cloud has been loud for about as long as the potential for the UC deployment explosion has been imminent. With the cloud though, enterprises have already taken action and moved many applications to the cloud; the one notable exception being UC. There has not been the mass exodus to hosted UC that many providers had hoped for. I believe there are a variety of reasons for the lag in moving voice to the cloud, but that’s for a different blog.  In talking to enterprise customers and service providers, I believe things have settled down and organizations know where they are heading. For those where cloud-based UC makes sense, the technology has reached a point of stability where they can move forward. For the large contingent that has been waiting for the cloud-based UC to meet their needs, they realize that’s not going to happen any time soon, so they are moving forward with a premise-based deployment of UC. It’s not the cloud, but it is UC, so that’s a least a partial win.
#3 – Third Party UC Monitoring and Diagnostics Become Business Critical
As more and more enterprises deploy UC into production use, the number of users on that infrastructure naturally increases. As the number of people using the solution increases, the overall exposure of the UC deployment will grow. If the UC platform and underlying infrastructure are properly architected, deployed, and maintained, that exposure will only be positive. If, however, there are problem areas, they will be found and the exposure could be less than ideal. Also, more users and more conversations mean more load on the infrastructure and a greater probability the limits of the infrastructure will be tested.  To maximize the chances of satisfied users and positive exposure, more and more enterprises will take the recommended action of leveraging purpose-built third party UC monitoring and diagnostics tools to ensure the infrastructure is functioning properly and to help efficiently identify and remediate any issues as they arise.
#4 – Resellers Will Become Service Providers
Although enterprises need monitoring and diagnostics tools, they do not necessarily have the people nor the processes to cost effectively and efficiently leverage those tools. These enterprises will turn to services providers they can trust to leverage purpose-built third party tools to monitor their UC deployments and act quickly and decisively to remediate any systemic issues or specific user experience complaints. Traditional resellers with a vision for the market have already begun to make this transition, are building this core competency, and are establishing new relationships with their client base.
#5 – A New Buzzword Acronym to Be Adopted!!!
At the recent BC Summit hosted by UC Strategies, CPaaS was a main topic of discussion. No, UC Strategies is not focused on the Concerned Parents of Arlington Adult Services (though I hope them the best in 2017). The experts at UC Strategies are very excited about the potential of Communications Platform as a Service. In essence, CPaaS is a mash-up of CEBP (Communications-Enabled Business Processes), Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and UCaaS (UC as a Service). In other words: IVR + CEBP + UCaaS = CPaaS.
CPaaS allows organizations and their technology partners to invoke “communications” (voice, video, SMS, etc.) from cloud-based platforms using broadly understood programming language and/or API’s. A company, for example, could quickly generate an applet that would call and/or text all employees in case of an emergency.
The “C” in CPaaS is communications. Communications involves a user experience, generally with pretty high expectations from the user. These communications and the underlying infrastructure will need to be monitored and enterprises will be looking for diagnostics tools should any voice communications suffer from poor quality.
Putting A Bow On It
So, in 2017, more enterprises will continue to replace traditional telephony with UC, but there will be a good proportion of those that will not deploy it in the cloud. The spread of UC in production will drive the market for purpose-built third party UC monitoring and diagnostics tools and the partners (service providers) that can effectively use those tools to optimize the UC user experience for these enterprises. Leading edge early adopters will start to leverage CPaaS to communications-enable some of their business processes through a cloud-based service. And I will write enough blog posts so that no one wants to search back far enough to see where my predictions might be inaccurate (or, more likely, just misinterpreted).