Global workplace restrictions spurred by the coronavirus pandemic will expand the cloud conferencing user base throughout 2020, but growth will taper off in 2021 as the lasting effects of a remote workforce render conferencing services commonplace.
End-user spending on cloud-based conferencing is projected to reach $4.1 billion in 2020, up from $3.3 billion in 2019. It is the second-fastest growing category in the unified communications (UC) market, behind spending on cloud-based telephony, which is forecast to reach $16.8 billion in 2020.
Overall UC market end-user spending is projected to decline 2.7% in 2020 and return to growth in 2021, as cloud telephony initiatives regain momentum.
“Cloud collaboration investments will buoy the UC market downturn as remote work initiatives spurred by the COVID-19 outbreak drive conferencing adoption and market growth,” said Megan Fernandez, senior principal analyst at Gartner.
Gartner predicts that by 2024, in-person meetings will account for just 25% of enterprise meetings, a drop from 60% prior to the pandemic, driven by remote work and changing workforce demographics. As a result, there is a higher demand for convenient access to videoconferencing and other collaboration tools.
Cloud telephony – string attached
In 2020, new premises-based telephony investments will drop sharply as existing installed telephony system life spans are stretched and investment priorities shift to the cloud.
Fernandez predicts cloud telephony adoption will experience a ‘push and pull’ from competing market pressures.
“Overall, the market will be negatively impacted by organizations that were planning near-term premises to cloud migrations but are now extending legacy life spans instead,” she added.
However, cloud telephony will experience a boost once its benefits are recognized, namely the ease at which it can accommodate a changing workforce, update and extend existing features, and integrate with adjacent applications.
The cloud telephony market is projected to grow 8.9% in 2020 and 17.8% in 2021.
“As a result of workers employing remote work practices in response to COVID-19 office closures, there will be some long-term shifts in conferencing solution usage patterns. Policies established to enable remote work and experience gained with conferencing service usage during the outbreak is anticipated to have a lasting impact on collaboration adoption,” Fernandez concluded.