Analysts IDC have predicted that the unified communications (UC) market is set to grow by approximately 69% between 2014 and this year. According to Frost & Sullivan, the South African UC market remains at an early growth stage, presenting opportunities for businesses. However, growth aside, solutions must adapt and evolve to offer tangible and relevant value to the business.

Back in the day, organisations made use of specialised software and services for different means of communication. As communication technologies have grown and adapted, the focus has moved to ensuring that communication can flow organically and easily through as many channels as users wish to use. An example of this would be how UC clients enable users to shift calls between a smartphone, a hardware IP phone and a desktop phone, all of which will show a single corporate number and identity.

Modern devices have been designed with ease of use in mind, and any UC solution that hopes to be successful must be able to offer the same simplicity, as well as a top user experience. Central to this is the ability to present to the user a consistent and unified interface, across many different types of devices and media platforms. What is needed here essentially, is a unified client.

One of the first and foremost aims of UC is making life easier for the end user. This is why the interfaces for users’ clients are core components of all UC solutions. A well-designed interface will assist users to navigate the plethora of communications channels. At the same time, a bad interface will result in organisations paying for features that are seldom or never used by employees.

UC isn’t about one stand-alone product, it is part of a greater solution that can be composed of a number of elements including email, instant messaging, voice call, Web conferencing or chat, social media, and document sharing. Where UC shows its value is in its ability to link together all these components through a single, integrated interface, allowing users to communicate over their device or means of choice.

The majority of vendors do offer this to a certain extent, but service levels and user experience will not be the same across the various devices and networks. UC providers should add to their offerings extra services and device support for the unified client, ensuring their customers have a smooth experience that will boost user enjoyability.

Providers of UC solutions must move away from telling businesses whey they need their specific product or solution, and start actually tailoring solutions to meet their specific needs. Core to success here is being able to offer organisations two absolute necessities for businesses in today’s digital age – interoperability and customisation. This is how the best UC providers will be able to distinguish themselves from their competition.

Organisations are conscious of the fact that the rate of application availability has gone through the roof. Companies are loath to get locked into a specific vendor’s development path. They want to be able to take advantage of the plethora of technologies and features that are available. The only way to achieve this is through specifically tailored solutions, alongside a lot of flexibility. This is crucial to the future adoption of UC, which is both mobile, and rich in features.

Without a practical and real level of interoperability, UC’s hands will be tied, and it will never be able to truly offer a level of customisation that will offer transformation or enhancement to business processes. There isn’t one solution that fits every single organisation. This is why the future of UC is the ability to offer UC solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of a specific business.