Business users will communicate with a unified toolset that integrates instant messaging (IM), social networks, conferencing and email within the next four years, according to Gartner.
This integration will allow organisations to simplify an increasingly broad range of communications and collaboration options, and improve customer interaction, the analyst firm said.
"Business end users typically treat the unified communication and collaboration [UCC] components - voice, messaging, conferencing, IM, presence, applications, clients, social networks and collaboration tools - in silos," said Jeff Mann, Gartner research vice president.
"They can no longer work this way as UCC represents a fusion of different communications cultures and work styles. The artificial separation they are used to will become a thing of the past."
Gartner explained that consumer markets will drive UCC innovation, rather than UCC vendors.
"[Consumers] are driving corporate user expectations and requirements, particularly as the blurring of work and leisure tasks and time drives a demand for personal products to be used for work purposes," said Mann.
Gartner also claimed that more than 50 per cent of vendors in the UCC space will fail to offer a suitable solution to businesses.
Gartner analyst Steve Blood suggested that voice and data vendors are likely to consolidate, and that telecoms equipment firms such as Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya and Aastra are likely to struggle as business users seek highly integrated UCC services.
The global UCC market will reach a value of $7.4bn (£4.5bn) in 2009, according to Gartner, representing a 22 per cent increase from 2008. Microsoft, IBM and Cisco accounted for more than 30 per cent of the total market in 2008.
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