The cloud conferencing user base will expand strongly throughout 2020, but growth will taper off in 2021 as the lasting effects of a remote workforce render conferencing services commonplace.
So says Gartner, which also forecasts end-user spending on cloud-based conferencing 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.
According to the analyst group, cloud-based conferencing includes cloud web conferencing and video-as-a-service functionality delivered via the cloud and enabling interactions over a network between participants.
The overall UC market is projected to decline 2.7 per cent 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 a quarter of enterprise meetings, a drop from 60 per cent 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.
Push and Pull
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.
“Cloud telephony adoption will experience a ‘push and pull’ from competing market pressures,” said Ms. Fernandez. “Overall, the market will be negatively impacted by organisations that were planning near-term premises to cloud migrations but are now extending legacy life spans instead.”
However, cloud telephony will experience a boost once its benefits are recognised, 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 9% in 2020 and 18% 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,” said Ms. Fernandez.