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September 13-14, 2023 / The Fairmont, Austin


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03 May 2023

The State Of The Unified Communications and Collaboration Market

As the technology world goes through a phase of layoffs and the general economy has taken a hit, it’s time to take a look at the state of the unified communications and collaboration market.

Is this niche industry immune to the downturn because of demand, or is there something lurking that we’re just not talking about?

What to expect from the unified communications and collaboration market

In their predictions for unified communications in 2023, industry experts suggested we are shifting away from traditional unified comms and moving to collaboration.

This means vendors specializing in voice must start to think about asynchronous communication models and the wider requirements for hybrid work.

It also means bringing external contacts into the conversation better. External federation with other organizations is a basic need to genuinely unify communications.

As organizations must tighten their business case for unified comms, it has become important that vendors offer verticalized packages to suit specific industries. This must have genuine differentiation to both competitors and a vendor’s stock offering. Failure to do so could make the case for consolidation easier.

In an article for TechTarget, Antone Gonsalves warns of budget cut freezes and suggests that companies will have to focus on consolidation of their UCaaS estate. 

“CIOs can quickly drop some products in use today because many of them provide the same capabilities.”

Eric Johnson, CIO of Momentive.

With this in mind, it’s important that vendors within the unified communications and collaboration market remain unique. There must be a genuine USP. And this must be both marketed and executed not just well, but to exceed customer expectations.

In the next section, we’ll walk through the leading UCaaS vendors (according to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide).


Who’s leading the unified communications and collaboration market?

1 - Microsoft 

Microsoft’s domination of the meetings and overall communications market is likely to continue in the near future. 

With unrivaled active user figures (270 million monthly) and more feature updates than you can shake a stick at (450 feature changes in 2022), the migration enforced from Skype to Business to Teams and the integration with the rest of Microsoft’s productivity suite is almost foolproof.

Microsoft Teams is the clear leader The Unified Communications and Collaboration Market

Users who crave a more familiar interface, and have used other tools to achieve similar outcomes, can choose from a wide range of third-party Teams integrations to either use Teams as their hub or continue using their preferred apps while remaining connected to the rest of the business. Microsoft has made the case for not using Teams hard to justify if you’re a business using Microsoft products. 

That, itself, is a huge differentiator from key competitors. 


2 - RingCentral

Since RingCentral acquired Glip in 2015, there has been significant development shifting RingCentral from a calling platform to a genuine team collaboration competitor.

RingCentral is noted as having 4m users. There is no mention of whether this figure refers to active users or installed licenses.

Outside of RingCentral’s own install base, a potential 35m users were added when Mitel agreed that RingCentral would become its sole unified comms as-a-service (UCaaS) proposition. There is no word on how many of these have been migrated from legacy platforms.

The same is true for Avaya’s 100m users. RingCentral now has access to these thanks to a 2019 partnership.

Elka Popova, VP and Senior Fellow, ICT, at Frost & Sullivan, commented on the current state of RingCentral in the unified communications and collaboration market:

“RingCentral’s seat and revenue growth rates have exceeded industry averages with strategic partnerships contributing. Varying value propositions across partner solutions and its ability to integrate different stakeholder needs shows RingCentral is prepared to custom-tailor its approach for different partners.”


3 - Zoom

Coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, there were questions over whether Zoom would scale from the video tool everybody used at home to a genuine business communications leader.


Its four million Zoom Phone users, newly launched contact center, and recently rolled out mail and calendar app suggest it has completed that scaling activity and then some.


Zoom has scaled to lead the unified communications and collaboration market.


What comes next for Zoom is a choice for the execs at Zoom to dictate. There is a clear openness to external and cross-platform communication. Working with vendors and competitors is not something that seems to worry the product teams. 


Taking on Microsoft and Google in the mail, calendar, and productivity suite is another challenge entirely. Could this be a sign of where the future unified communications and collaboration market is headed?


4 - Cisco

Recent movements at Cisco have been about turning acquisitions into differentiators. 

Webex Calling, putting the BroadSoft acquisition to great use, is thought of by industry analysts as the go-to enterprise mobility option and Socio is now Webex Events. Webex has also officially arrived in the cloud contact center market, with it taking center stage at recent unified comms events, and imimobile is now a huge part of the CPaaS offering.

In particular, the WhatsApp API is proving a hit with retail customers (and their customers on the receiving end).