UCaaS prospering in APAC, expect wearables boost
By Lum Ka Kay November 16, 2015
- Increased adoption rates amongst wide range of businesses
- InterCall predicts ‘tremendous growth’ in business use of wearables
UNIFIED Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) is seeing strong growth in Asia Pacific, according to a senior executive from global cloud-based unified communications (UC) services provider InterCall.
Citing data from market research company IDC, InterCall Asia Pacific senior manager and head of UC strategy Christopher Franke said that “the UCaaS market in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) is expected to reach US$659 million by 2018, a five-year of CAGR (compound growth rate) of 89%.
“This is due to the increased interest from a wide range of businesses in adopting UCaaS to take advantage of the cost benefits, flexibility and agility of the technology,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) via email.
Franke said there was strong interest in markets such as India, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.
“Currently, the UCaaS market is weighted towards small and medium enterprises (SMEs), but mid-to-large enterprise use is emerging fast and impacting growth.
“The large enterprise space market is being driven by global multinational corporations conducting global deals to foster collaboration and individual productivity,” he said, referring to the pact between General Electric (GE) Healthcare and Microsoft to roll out Office 365 for GE’s 300,000 employees spread across 170 countries.
Through the alliance, GE employees will be able to access productivity and collaboration tools like Skype for Business for calls, virtual meetings, email, and real-time document co-authoring.
According to Franke, the demand for mobile UC solutions in Asia Pacific is “a result of a combination of factors such as cultural preference, well-developed regional wireless infrastructure, and challenges with the fixed network infrastructure.”
Emerging trends in APAC
A trend which is slated for explosive growth is the use of wearables in companies’ UCaaS use, according to Franke (pic above).
“Currently, the majority of wearables used at work are the personal devices of employees – which they are using without the sanction of the company,” he noted, adding that there was a need for more enterprise apps for platforms such as Apple Watch.
He said InterCall is also seeing a continued migration from on-premises UC to UCaaS, especially in the large enterprise space.
“The flexibility of deployment from on-premises to hybrid to the cloud has made UCaaS more favourable than on-premises UC solutions.
“The move to the cloud is enabling third-party vendors to play a critical role in providing solutions that will help to enable integration, and growth of the UCaaS market,” he added.
When asked how the entry of tech giant Microsoft into the UCaaS space affected providers like InterCall, Franke said: “The impact on the UCaaS market … was generally favourable as it provided credibility to the concept of hosted solutions for critical infrastructure.
“With large organisations like Microsoft providing the flexibility of both on-premises and hosted options, it allows clients to migrate an increasing number of services to the hosted model,” he added.
Saying that InterCall has developed an extensive partnership with Microsoft for the integration of new conferencing platforms, Franke argued that by being the largest collaboration services provider in the world, his company has helped Microsoft expand its capabilities.
“InterCall was instrumental in the transition of Microsoft from Office Communicator to Skype for Business, as we have strong relationships with companies – this resulted in a better understanding of customer needs.
“We leverage this expertise and provide assistance to our partners like Microsoft with training and infrastructure development for new solutions,” he said.
VoIP call quality and security
Call quality on a Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) line has always been a concern, not only for users but service providers as well – especially in Asia Pacific, where infrastructure can vary greatly from one market to the next.
When asked how InterCall addresses such concerns, Franke said the key is in solving end-user problems.
“Problems with quality can arise when end-users are not using the correct hardware, such as noise cancellation headsets and webcams equipped with top-quality speakers and microphones.
“For example, using ordinary headphones for a video conference from your desk can affect the call quality as the noise in the office interferes with the call,” he explained.
At times, the issue can rest with proper bandwidth not being available across all offices due to the location, according to Franke.
He therefore urged companies to adapt their conferencing solutions according to the infrastructure that is available, instead of following an ‘all or nothing’ approach.
“All offices should be equipped with the proper hardware to avoid end-user problems. Offices which might not have proper bandwidth due to their location can utilise a hybrid solution which combines VoIP with a traditional public switch telephone network (PSTN) line to maintain call quality,” he said.
The important thing is to be flexible in the implementation of VoIP.
“Companies should give users a choice, and migrate to VoIP when it makes sense,” said Franke.
In terms of security, Frank said InterCall prevents people from tapping into a VoIP line by limiting access to their networks.
“Only a small number of facilities and even fewer staff members have physical access to infrastructure network components.
“Often, access is restricted by isolating system access capabilities at separate facilities, and then by limiting them even further to a specific workstation at a particular network operations centre (NOC),” he said.
InterCall also maintains secure data centres and infrastructure by providing a range of encryption protocols, ensuring outsiders cannot view or hear communications over the network, Franke claimed.
He said having strong vendor partnerships with equipment vendors such as Cisco and Microsoft is a key part of the business.
“As a result, InterCall is often assigned dedicated personnel from the vendor, which allows for expedited service and support for vulnerabilities and security assistance,” he said.
“Moreover, the largest regulated service providers – by the nature of their operations – are more experienced in cutting-edge, next-generation Internet-Protocol (IP) packet transmission networks than your average enterprise network.
“They use the latest security tools to detect, identify, and prevent network security events.
“Finally, they frequently have a larger number of top-level security engineers whose sole job is to secure the telecommunications infrastructure,” he added.
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