The unified communications (UC) sector is enjoying a period of sweeping growth. With a growing scope of communication platforms, such as chat, video, file sharing, collaboration and conferencing, most organisations are leveraging their current on-premise platforms, while taking advantage of new and innovative capabilities as well as cloud applications – whether they are in the office or on the go.

As the number of mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, wearables – entering business environments continues to grow exponentially, we will see UC continuing to evolve with much of the advancement now centred on effectively leveraging the mobile enterprise.

As BYOD grows, the focus will increase on enabling business users to customise and personalise how they employ their personal devices to communicate in their personal and business lives, everywhere they are. This will see UC becoming even more flexible, as businesses of all types and sizes will want to ‘future proof’ their investments, and make sure their UC is portable, flexible and intuitive.

Alongside the increase in mobility, there’s been a surge in user dependence on smartphones and tablets. This means that these smart devices now play a ‘centre stage’ role in enabling and empowering a wide assortment of business communication channels. These include 24/7, ‘from anywhere’ access to platforms such as messaging, and video conferencing and communications.

This year we will see more and more businesses opting for a hybrid UC consumption model, and bringing a combination of on-premises and cloud solutions to the table. This combination offers the greatest flexibility for current needs and also allows for a migration path to cloud-based services.

UCaaS adoption will also increase in 2017. As with most “as-a-service” models, UCaaS offers businesses far more flexibility and agility in terms of managing and growing their capabilities as needed.

This year, the demand for multi-channel customer service support will continue to grow, putting pressure on companies as they seek to offer a top customer experience. In addition, 2017 will see more and more organisations adopting integrated collaboration technologies that facilitate a seamless flow between phone and conferencing, video, file sharing, desktop and instant messaging, without having to open a plethora of different applications or having to remember several passwords.

All businesses are seeking to improve productivity, and streamline operations. This is why UC is the tool of the future, as it goes beyond application integration to offer best-in-class collaboration tools that flawlessly integrate with their communications platforms.

Today’s UC collaboration tools allow virtual workgroups to share and store more data among each other. These tools are going mainstream, as they are proving their business value over and over.

There is no doubt that UC is the standard of the future. Legacy, cumbersome, often unreliable systems are changing to the more flexible, cloud-based and streamlined solutions hitting the market today.