Andy Robb, chief technology officer at Duxbury Networking, explains that it’s difficult to quantify the magnitude of the current explosion in mobile data traffic.

One industry source predicts it will reach 18 exabytes (18-billion gigabytes) per month in just two years’ time on the back of a 60% year-on-year growth since 2014.

With nearly 5-billion mobile users and more than 10-billion mobile-ready devices expected in the market by 2018, companies need to have plans in place detailing how they will address the increasingly mobile nature of today’s world. Here, the distinction between consumer and enterprise technology is becoming increasingly hazy as more collaborating is being achieved via the cloud.

Unfortunately, a significant number of organisations still do not have their business communications strategies linked to their mobile networks, despite the fact that a burgeoning core of ‘mobile executives’ use their smartphones, tablets and notebooks to conduct business, thus consigning the conventional ‘phone and desktop PC to history.

Against this backdrop, the challenge facing businesses today is how to integrate real-time communication services such as instant messaging, voice over WiFi, voice over 4G LTE, web and video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence, call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging, voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax.

There is increasing value being placed on the ability to integrate technologies that unite and enable seamless communications between employees, customers and partners. As a result, there is a significant push towards the adoption of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) technologies, particularly in the light of the imminent arrival of 5G technology which will have a major impact in the Unified Communications (UC) arena.

Numerous initiatives and prompts, most notably from social media, are contributing to an increasing awareness of the ability of UC&C to deliver this value. Another motivation is the rapid falling of barriers to UC&C entry, with analysts predicting a significant uptick in corporate investments in the technology in the immediate future.

Importantly, the UC&C philosophy is not represented by a single product or product grouping, but by a number of solutions that together provide a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.

From the channel’s perspective, one of the key benefits of UC&C is its ability to be a competitive differentiator for resellers, presenting those equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills in this area with new revenue-producing opportunities.

There are a slew of new UC&C-related product offerings in the pipeline with capabilities that meet the demands of users looking to progress up the UC mobility ladder – beginning at instant messaging and progressing to voice and then video integration.

These products will present users with a broad range of options, enabling them to communicate through audio, video, chat and other means whenever and wherever they want, and on any device they choose. And as consumer devices become more pervasive, organisational success will rely more on the adoption of communication platforms that boost productivity and increase flexibility, while speeding up response times and the delivery of information.

From the user’s point of view there are a number of drivers for the introduction of UC&C, most notably reduced operational expenditure, thanks to its cloud emphasis. Organisations that have moved their UC to the cloud also cite flexibility as a key reason. Undoubtedly, cloud solutions are inherently more flexible than on-premises-based solutions, offering organisations the ability to scale users up and down, centralise management structures and rapidly deploy new applications.

UC&C is set to play an increasing role in telecommuting or ‘teleworking’. Research shows that half of the workforce in the US hold jobs that are compatible with at least partial telework, and approximately 25% of the workforce regularly teleworks. Reducing the amount of time spent travelling – and cutting the direct and indirect costs associated with travel – are important goals of UC&C supporters.

Vendors that have amassed expertise in the UC, cloud and 4G LTE space are collaborating with service providers to drive the development of cloud-powered mobile enterprises. In this vein, devices such as ‘tap-to-connect’ collaboration tools are appearing on the market delivering desktop-like communications to any smartphone.

These and many more big business benefits associated with UC&C are no longer restricted to large organisations. Now they are falling within the grasp of medium sized companies whose management is able to justify an investment in UC&C, even if the entry level is on the lower rungs of the UC mobility ladder.

With an overwhelming number of organisations planning UC&C ventures within the next 12 months, there is no time like the present for dealers and resellers to demonstrate the benefits of UC&C to their customers – and seize the opportunity to emerge as winners in this increasingly competitive technology sector.