Year in Review 2012: The stories that characterized the enterprise communications industry

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As we say farewell to 2012, a year that was a time of transition for the enterprise communications market, we want to take a look back on some of the major story lines of the past year.

We have chosen in this Year in Review issue to focus on five major subjects that were part of the enterprise communications industry's transformation from voice focused legacy networks to unified communications (UC) focused IP-based networks:

  • Enterprises take a SIP trip: In 2012, more and more enterprises moved away from legacy networks and toward SIP trunking, which offers them reduced costs, improved productivity, centralization of lines, rapid disaster recovery and a resilient UC platform. However, an ongoing challenge for enterprises is how to capture the benefits of SIP trunking while overcoming obstacles, not the least of which is compatibility with legacy systems.
  • UC moves to the cloud: 2012 was the year when leading vendors finally emerged in the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market, according to Gartner's assessment. UCaaS provides the same functions as premise-based UC, including voice services, email, messaging, instant messaging and presence, audio and video conferencing, mobile client and contact center functions. UCaaS is part of a broader movement by enterprises to adopt cloud-based products and services. As larger enterprises become more comfortable with UCaaS, its use will expand rapidly in 2013 and beyond.
  • Enterprises go mobile: The bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon became a reality for most enterprises in 2012. According to a recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Cisco, more than 90 percent of companies with over $1 billion in revenues allow personal mobile devices to access corporate networks and data. One BYOD area that seems to be growing is mobile VoIP. According to Juniper Research, there will be 1 billion over-the-top (OTT) mobile VoIP users by 2017. With BYOD comes security threats, so enterprises need to ensure they have good BYOD policies and training in place.
  • Windows 8 in the enterprise?: Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is betting its Windows 8 OS will shore up its position in the enterprise communications world. This position has been eroded by inroads made by BYOD devices such as Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone and iPad and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android phone. However, a poll of 1,282 IT decision makers by Forrester Research found only 4 percent plan to migrate to Windows 8 in the next year. At stake is Microsoft's position in the enterprise IT market, a market it had long dominated as the primary OS for corporate PCs.
  • Grappling with big data: Big data made big news this year, a trend that is likely to continue as the "Internet of Everything" takes hold. As Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) chief John Chambers stressed this year, the Internet of Everything is changing everything, including generating vast amounts of data. Enterprises can either learn how to control big data and mine its value or be overwhelmed by it.

So there you have it--the five big news topics in the enterprise communications space. I'm sure you are wondering, "Where did he come up with those choices?" In such a large market, I know there are 10 times as many topics to cover in a Year in Review issue. With that in mind, I encourage you to make suggestions about other trends and story lines you thought were newsworthy in 2012 and could be things to watch for in 2013.

P.S. FierceEnterpriseCommunications will be on a publishing break until Jan. 3, 2013. Enjoy the holidays and have a Happy New Year! -Fred