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UC Gets a Straight A in Education

To fully understand the impact of unified communications (UC) -- the integration of IP voice, video and data applications and services -- the best case studies can be found in the educational market.

Schools -- whether small primary schools, online vocational schools or multi-campus universities -- are being hit from every side by the demand to lower costs while improving services to their "customers" (otherwise known as administrators, teachers and students). And the impressive thing is that hundreds of schools have implemented UC systems -- and hundreds of others are in the process -- in an industry that isn't necessarily viewed as a harbinger of cutting-edge technology.

These are some of the findings in the latest Heavy Reading IP Services Insider, "Schools Graduate to UC for Lower Costs, Better Features." This report evaluates the demand for UC in the education sector, examining the most lucrative education verticals and drivers in the market during the next 24 months. It details opportunities and challenges facing technology suppliers during the next 24 months, including areas with the most growth potential. It also profiles and analyzes the strategies of 10 leading suppliers of UC technology.

A dichotomy of the impact that UC is having in the educational sector is found by examining its impact on online education. A recent survey shows that enrollment for online classes in the U.S. has exceeded that of traditional classes, rising by almost 1 million students in 2010 alone. All schools are aware of the benefits of online classes: increased student-to-teacher ratios; reduced reliance upon physical classrooms; and improved student and teacher satisfaction from the ability to have "class" anytime, anywhere, using a variety of different devices.

As increased fiscal demands put more pressure on schools to lower costs, while improving the productivity of staff resources, demand for online courses will grow exponentially. Consequently, universities and public schools are looking to UC to expand their reach and serve students and faculty with voice, video and data applications that far exceed those enabled by legacy systems.

Also factoring into the demand for UC in the education market is competition between schools. Even public primary and secondary institutions, which generally have been able to rely on tax help during tough economic times, are realizing that they no longer can rely on such money. But they also understand that in order to remain competitive in the eyes of students and faculty, they must implement communications systems that are at least as savvy as those found in private school settings.

As these forces continue to converge during the next 24 months, many more educational entities will turn to UC as a solution that ensures cost savings, while positioning them as premier educational leaders with 21st century technology and communications systems.

— Denise Culver, Research Analyst, Heavy Reading IP Services Insider




The report, Schools Graduate to UC for Lower Costs, Better Features, is available as part of an annual subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading IP Services Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. For more information, or to subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/entvoip.

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