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Unified Messaging Gets It Together
New research finds the market for enterprise unified messaging and voicemail systems continues to grow, particularly abroad.
Posted Jan 12, 2009
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As the global market for enterprise unified messaging (UM) and voicemail systems continues to mature, 2008's numbers for adoption, shipments, and revenues continued to show strength, according to a recent report from Parsippany, N.J.–based consulting and research firm T3i Group.

According to the company's research, the global manufacturer revenues from this market reached $604 million through the first half of 2008, 17 percent above the same period in 2007. In particular, UM revenues jumped 59 percent to $256 million in the same time frame, representing 42 percent of the total revenue for all enterprise messaging systems.

For Ken Dolsky, senior program director at T3i Group's InfoTrack for Converged Applications, what really jumped out was the fact that total shipments grew faster than actual revenue did. Overall, global mailbox shipments grew approximately 30 percent, while unified messaging rocketed upward by 81 percent. The disparity in the rates of growth, he says, is due to the fact that manufacturers offered lower-than-average prices, aggressive discounting, and free UM mailboxes with new systems.

The 30 percent growth in systems shipped would have been much higher if not for the United States, according to the report. In the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, shipments increased more than 50 percent  -- a result that Dolsky says came as a bit of a surprise. "It was unexpected because it had been a fairly mature market and we didn't expect as much growth as it realized," he says. "The approach in EMEA is that if companies are going to move to a new technology, they will move whole-hog…taking the best and most-robust applications possible."

Further results show Nortel Networks continues to lead the way among manufacturers in global shipments, followed by Avaya and Cisco Systems. However, at the current growth rate, Dolsky says the eventual full-year statistics will likely show Cisco having overtaken Avaya in mailbox shipments by the end of 2008. "Avaya has certainly had a fairly mature market in the United States, but Cisco has been growing faster and bundling its offerings for [some time]," he says. "Right now, Cisco is more effective in general with sales and distribution."

Cisco, he continues, has had a successful distribution plan for years now -- one that Avaya may start emulating. "Avaya has been hiring a number of people who have more experience with distribution at Cisco, and is moving toward [Cisco's] model," Dolsky says. "Avaya had a split direct and indirect sales force strategy, but it is now more [of the latter]."

All manufacturers, though, can expect to see revenues drop for 2009 because of the recession, according to the report. Dolsky explains that the bulk of the enterprise messaging market hinges on the sales of telephony systems. The latter, he expects, will slow down because companies are largely shrinking operations as opposed to growing them. "People are obviously looking at every expense and looking at what [investments] to defer," he says. "Many companies may stick with what they have at this point and try to ride out the [downturn] for a year or two and see how the economy lands."

With this in mind, Dolsky says that manufacturers hoping to be sucessful must make it a point of emphasis to bundle telephony, messaging, and unified communication/collaboration applications together. "The message is clear…that bundling these [offerings] can decrease cost and is an effective way of selling," he says.

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