2005 is shaping up to be the year of unified messaging (UM), the convergence between data mobility and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to the desktop, a forecast from IDC predicts.
Revenue in the worldwide UM applications market grew 4pc to US$489.7m in 2003 as successful vendors supported growth among carrier customers and battled the sentiment that cell phones, PDAs and services alone provide enough message management and unification for most users, according to IDC. UM refers to applications that unite email, fax and voice messages in a single mailbox, accessible by a PC, browser or telephone.
According to IDC, revenue from UM applications for both enterprises and service providers is expected to increase solidly until 2008, with business users ultimately becoming the strongest market segment.
“Business users are gobbling up PDAs, multifunction cell phones and email devices such as the BlackBerry as a way to make themselves more mobile, but these devices often aren’t linked to corporate email or voicemail systems, and can ultimately make business communications systems much more fragmented,” said Robert Mahowald, research manager for IDC’s collaborative computing service.
“Vendors of UM products such as Cisco, Avaya and Nortel Networks need to reassert their strengths in the storage, management and integration of users’ voicemail and email messages and as the primary architects of computer and telephony integration.
“2005 is shaping up to be a year of convergence and the winning UM product vendors need to lead – not follow – in any discussion about mobility and bringing IP voice to the desktop,” Mahowald said.
In order to take advantage of UM market opportunities, IDC warned vendors to combat the growing perceptions of business users who think mobile email on a BlackBerry is the best way to unify messages.
Mahowald argued that vendors need to focus on the opportunities afforded by the rise of new platforms such as session IP. “They need to increase the role for real-time IP products alongside real-time presence-based platforms; control the argument about securing IP lines in the shift away from time division multiplexing and confront market transitions head on, such as the shift to IP voice controlled at the desktop.”
By John Kennedy