There are tremendous opportunities for solution providers going forward as mobile devices continues to proliferate every aspect of business and cloud computing continues to make headway. Where the twain meets is in Unified Communications. Where the big opportunities lie are in Unified Communications as a Service or UCaaS.

Research giant Gartner defines UC as “products (equipment, software and services) as those that facilitate the interactive use of multiple enterprise communications methods. This can include control, management and integration of these methods. UC products integrate communications channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.”

The research firm also predicts UCaaS to be a $92 billion market by 2018. Supporting this, Infonetics, another research company, is expecting it to be about an $88 billion market for the same time period. What’s $4 billion in grand scheme of things when we are talking such a large area?

The point is UCaaS is growing and solution providers are at the very core. And the two main factors contributing to its growth are mobility and cloud computing, according to DJ Kreft, VP, Partner Sales, Thinking Phone Networks, an UCaaS cloud-based provider.

While some companies may need to take intermediate steps to get to UC, the ultimate goal is to migrate them from an on premise environment to a cloud environment, Kreft said. And while many organizations first move to a hosted environment, they are not gaining the service, reliability and efficiency that a cloud UCaaS solution would provide, he said.

Here is where SPs are critical in guiding customers to embrace cloud computing when making an UCaaS decision because ultimately that is the direction they should be working towards.

What’s interesting, however, regardless of the huge market opportunity and the natural extension from mobility and the cloud is that during a recent webcast on this very topic only about one-third of SPs said they were currently involved in UCaaS. Two-thirds said they either were not involved at all or are just looking into it.

What are you waiting for?

The main question that came up is how SPs can break into the UCaaS market with their clients. The easiest barrier of entry seems to be through a PBX offering, according to Kreft. Other ways are to partner with an existing UCaaS provider and use their expertise or brand recognition as a gateway.

The point is UCaaS is growing fast. It’s a needed service not just for enterprises but for small and midsize companies as well. It’s a natural extension to get clients into the cloud. It’s time to take it seriously and capitalize on the opportunity.

Knock em Alive!