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Worldwide user spending on cloud-based web conferencing technology will grow by nearly 25% in 2020

Global workplace restrictions will drive expansion of cloud conferencing user base throughout 2020, but growth will taper off next year

Restrictions spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to be a key driver in global user spending on cloud-based web conferencing systems growing by 24.3% in 2020, according to a forecast by analyst Gartner.

Gartner’s report Forecast analysis: unified communications, worldwide predicts that while, fundamentally, the global workplace will expand the cloud conferencing user base throughout 2020, growth will taper off in 2021 as the lasting effects of a remote workforce make conferencing services commonplace.

This reflects a number of recent reports, which predict that home working and teleworking will become the new normal, with videoconferencing at the heart of this new paradigm. Gartner predicts that, by 2024, in-person meetings will account for just 25% of enterprise meetings, down from 60% before the pandemic, driven by remote work and changing workforce demographics.

As a result, said the analyst, there is a higher demand for convenient access to videoconferencing and other collaboration tools.

The study calculates that user spending on cloud-based conferencing will reach $4.1bn in 2020, up from $3.3bn 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 $16.8bn in 2020.

“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.

Yet overall UC market user spending is projected to decline by 2.7% in 2020 and return to growth in 2021, as cloud telephony initiatives regain momentum. The adoption of cloud telephony is forecast to experience a “push and pull” in 2020, with new premises-based telephony investments dropping sharply as existing installed telephony system lifespans are stretched and investment priorities shift to the cloud.

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However, Gartner predicted that 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. It forecast the research projects cloud telephony market to grow by 8.9% in 2020 and by 17.8% in 2021.

“Cloud telephony adoption will experience a ‘push and pull’ from competing market pressures,” said Fernandez. “Overall, the market will be negatively impacted by organisations that were planning near-term premises-to-cloud migrations, but are now extending legacy lifespans instead.

“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.”

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