Standalone apps dominate UCaaS space, but business suites are hot on their heels

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Standalone applications or business suites? It's a good question for enterprises to ponder when it comes to deploying unified communications as a service offerings. Currently, the market is dominated by standalone apps, but the all-in-one suites look poised to catch up in the long run.

New research from Synergy Research Group shows that standalone apps from the likes of Cisco, Citrix and Microsoft currently account for 67 percent of the market, with the other 33 percent taken up by UCaaS business suites from companies like RingCentral, 8x8 and ShoreTel.

It's really the difference between piecemeal offerings and an all-in-one product. Both sides of the market are still growing, but with faster growth on the suite side of things, it appears the all-in-one vendors will eventually catch up to those offering one piece of the UC puzzle.

According to Synergy, standalone apps are growing at 13 percent annually, whereas business suite offerings are growing at 23 percent. Granted, the all-in-one offerings are a little newer to the market (WebEx and GoToMeeting have been staples of conference calling for the last decade), so they started out going head-to-head against incumbents with a strong foothold in the market.

What could make this interesting is the changing nature of some of the standalone app providers. Take, for example, Microsoft's integration of Skype for Business features into Office 365, as well as Cisco's addition of voice and video capabilities to Spark. Jeremy Duke, Synergy's founder and chief analyst, noted in a press release, "There has been a rapid rise of some disruptive new vendors and I do not expect the pace of change to slacken. Now some vendors are broadening their product offerings to provide more comprehensive solutions, examples being Cisco adding videoconferencing and voice capabilities to Spark and Microsoft adding UCaaS to Office 365. We are now entering a world of next generation UCaaS where standalone is not so standalone anymore."

The different approaches are interesting, and the business suite UCaaS providers appear to be gearing up for a big fight. They're already scoring huge victories with a growing number of customers and an ever-increasing number of seats, but they're also up against stiff competition. - Chris, @NorthernTalbot