According to ABI Research, the size of the Unified Communications market will rise quickly to nearly $4.2 billion in 2014, as compared to ‘only’ $302 million in 2008.

Unified Communications, merging IP telephony, conferencing and collaboration, messaging and other forms of integrated information exchange, are on a steeply rising curve of adoption in the enterprise, according to ABI.

However this market is far from monolithic. “Companies have been buying only those component technologies that they think will deliver immediate value,” says ABI Research practice director Stan Schatt. “It’s only later that they start tying it all together as true Unified Communications.”

Once that happens, synergies multiply: for example, many companies have messaging by voice and email, but when they are integrated, a user can “see” voicemails and have emails read aloud.

Such synergies can deliver increased productivity and efficiency. But more important they can also increase customer satisfaction.

Big corporations with multiple locations will benefit most immediately from Unified Communications, but many vendors’ systems are not interoperable.

There are still gaps where no standards exist. Even the largest vendors such as Cisco don’t make everything, so there’s a premium on partnerships.

A few vendors will try to sell end-to-end solutions, but most others will attempt to integrate their offerings with the legacy components they find. That opens a tremendous opportunity in replacing older equipment.