Unified communications as a service is rapidly gaining in popularity in the UK, boosted by hybrid working and the desire of customers to have the same communication and collaborative facilities wherever they are, meaning it is something resellers need to offer to customers.
By any metric, forecasts of 400% growth in a market in the next decade globally is great – and that is what is predicted for the unified communication as a service (UCaaS) market by Future Market Insights, which claims the sector will grow from $28.5 billion in 2023 to $112.6 billion in 2033.
This means there has never been a better time for resellers to get involved in UCaaS, as growth is predicted to be strong in the UK too.
ProVu group sales director, Craig Herrett, says that UCaaS has witnessed significant growth in the UK in recent years. “This has been primarily driven by the rise of hybrid working models and the increasing need for seamless communication and collaboration regardless of location,” he says.
This growth is set to continue, he adds. “We are seeing customers demanding more comprehensive UCaaS solutions that provide a unified experience across various communication channels, such as voice, video, messaging and file sharing,” he says.
“In voice, they are also looking to share this across various devices such as headset, desk phone and mobile phone therefore FMC (Full Mobile Collaboration) is now starting to gain traction versus OTA (Over the Top Apps). End users are seeking flexibility and scalability, allowing employees to seamlessly collaborate from anywhere using any device. Additionally, there is an emphasis on integrating UCaaS with other productivity tools like project management platforms, document sharing services and customer relationship management systems. This integration helps streamline workflows and enhances productivity.”
Mark Pillow, managing director at Voip Unlimited, adds that other trends in UCaaS revolve around increased demand for flexible and integrated communication solutions. “Over time, the demand for UCaaS has shifted from traditional on-premises solutions to cloud-based platforms,” he says. “This transition is driven by the need for scalability, cost effectiveness and the ability to support remote and mobile workforces. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the adoption of UCaaS as businesses sought reliable communication tools to enable remote collaboration.”
As UCaaS becomes more ubiquitous, then it will be increasingly integrated with other ‘as a service’ offerings, he adds. “The convergence of various cloud-based services and technologies is driven by the desire for streamlined workflows, improved productivity and enhanced user experiences,” he says. “This ultimately gives businesses a more holistic and unified approach to their communication and collaboration needs. It offers seamless data and workflow integrations and enhanced user experiences, while enabling organisations to leverage the benefits of multiple cloud-based services together.
“As the cloud computing landscape continues to evolve, we can expect further integration and convergence between UCaaS and other ‘as a Service’ offerings to provide comprehensive and integrated solutions to businesses.”
Stephen McIntyre from Nimans agrees, adding that customers are increasingly demanding seamless communication tools, better connectivity options and intelligent automation to enhance productivity, along with the desire for scalable, cost-effective solutions that can adapt to evolving business needs.
“This means we will continue to see the integration of UCaaS with other aaS offerings,” he says. “The consolidation of ‘Everything as a Service’ is a growing trend, with UCaaS vendors combining their solutions with CCaaS, CPaaS, app marketplaces, integrations and API connectors, not forgetting Hardware/Device as a Service. This empowers companies to create consolidated cloud landscapes for communication and productivity, enhancing agility and reducing costs while offering seamless user experiences across various business functions.”
Getting into the market
With the growing market and increasing consolidation of services, UCaaS is a market that resellers that aren’t already providing these services should investigate. Getting into the market doesn’t have to be too difficult either, as Stephen explains.
“Resellers can enter the UCaaS market by partnering with established UCaaS providers, offering their solutions to customers,” he says. “Key barriers to entry include building a strong technical understanding of UCaaS offerings, developing sales and marketing strategies, and establishing a reliable support infrastructure.
“Resellers must also invest in training and certification programs to ensure their teams are well-equipped to sell, implement, and support UCaaS solutions, while fostering strong relationships with UCaaS vendors to stay competitive.”
Communication in the conversation
But for those resellers already selling UCaaS, this should be pushed to customers, who will increasingly need it to keep up with rivals that have already adopted it.
“Resellers should discuss customers’ communication needs, pain points and goals to identify how UCaaS solutions can address them,” says Stephen. “Conversations should cover the benefits of UCaaS, such as scalability, cost savings and improved collaboration.
“Additionally, resellers should discuss integration with existing systems, security and compliance requirements and the transition process. Finally, they should emphasise ongoing support, training and customisation options to ensure seamless adoption and long-term success with UCaaS solutions.”
Mark adds that conversations with customers should address implementation and the specific needs and concerns of customers.
For instance, explaining the benefits of UCaaS. “Resellers need to articulate the benefits of UCaaS solutions to customers,” he says. “This includes discussing how UCaaS can improve communication efficiency, enhance collaboration, increase mobility, reduce costs and support remote work. By highlighting the value proposition, resellers can help customers see the advantages of adopting UCaaS.”
Resellers should also discuss the customer’s readiness for UCaaS adoption, he adds. “This involves evaluating factors like network infrastructure, bandwidth requirements, security considerations and integration with existing systems. Resellers can help customers develop a migration strategy that ensures a smooth transition to UCaaS while minimising disruptions.
“Resellers should also explore the specific features and capabilities that customers require from a UCaaS solution and how flexible the vendor is in creating bespoke features for high-value end customers.”
Security and compliance are also important considerations for customers when adopting UCaaS. “Resellers should address these concerns by discussing the security measures implemented by the UCaaS provider, such as data encryption, access controls and compliance with industry regulations,” says Mark.
Training and support options should also be discussed, adds Mark. “This includes providing information on user training programs, documentation and ongoing technical support,” he says. “Resellers can also help customers understand the UCaaS provider’s support channels, service-level agreements and escalation processes.”
Finally, total cost of ownership (TCO) should be part of the conversation. “Resellers shouldn’t be cagey about conversations on the TCO associated with adopting UCaaS solutions,” he says. “Instead, confidence and transparency when discussing the pricing model (e.g. subscription-based, upfront costs, ongoing operational expenses etc.) instil confidence in the end customer. And don’t forget to highlight the potential savings compared to maintaining on-premises communication systems either!
“Once that confidence is built, resellers can then have a frank and open discussion to help customers assess the financial implications and demonstrate the long-term cost benefits of UCaaS, whether certain features are essential or not, and flex costs so that both sides get the best possible deal.”
Jamie Hughes, UK sales director at Evolve IP, adds that the imminent ISDN switch-off should be a huge talking point for resellers and their customers. “Our own research indicates many businesses are not aware or prepared and time is running out,” he says.
With factors such as this, as well many businesses still needing to adopt UCaaS, the future is looking bright, Jamie adds. “In many ways we are all only at the start of the journey,” he says. “As an industry we must keep changing and adapting. The biggest opportunity is ahead of us.
“According to the latest market research from the Cavell Group, current cloud comms penetration in the UK has grown by 38.9% with 7.6 million installed users today. Total market revenue will grow by 80% from £1.26 billion in 2022 to £2.26 billion by 2026. A five-year forecast will see more than 6.8 million additional users moving to a cloud comms solution by the end of 2026 reaching a total installed base of 14.5 million users at 80% penetration.
“Evolve IP works specialises in securely integrating unified communications, collaboration tools, contact centre, voice and omnichannel solutions into the cloud. This makes us ideally placed to spot and capture new market trends.
“For example, deskphone demand remains surprisingly strong and the quality of video hardware continues to rise to enhance the overall user experience. Traction will continue to grow and our message to resellers is don’t get left behind. The time to join the UCaaS revolution is now.”
Adam Wilson, strategic partner director (EMEA and AUS) for Vonage, agrees that demand for UCaaS solutions is expected to continue growing, albeit at varying speeds across different regions and industries, he notes. “The increasing adoption of cloud-based solutions, the demand for seamless communication and collaboration experiences and the rise of remote work are likely to fuel the growth of UCaaS,” he says.
“Artificial intelligence is expected to play a significant role in enhancing UCaaS capabilities. Intelligent features like chatbots, virtual assistants and AI-powered analytics will likely become more prevalent, enabling automation, data-driven insights and improved user experiences.
“AI-powered assistants enhance agent capabilities by providing real-time knowledge article pop-ups, serving as quick references to address customer inquiries effectively. These informative pop-ups offer valuable insights, relevant information, and potential solutions to common customer issues. As a result, agents are empowered to deliver accurate and efficient resolutions. The integration of AI technology enables companies to streamline their customer service operations, leading to improved customer satisfaction and reduced resolution times.
“AI’s impact extends beyond resolving customer frustrations. Virtual assistants, powered by advanced AI algorithms, are revolutionising customer support by automating processes and minimising human involvement in issue triaging. These intelligent assistants can understand and respond to customer queries, freeing up valuable agent time and resources. By automating routine tasks such as collecting basic customer information or performing initial troubleshooting, virtual assistants enable agents to focus on more complex and high-value interactions. This not only enhances operational efficiency but also ensures faster resolutions for customers, minimising the need for prolonged hold times and frustrating waiting experiences.”
With such developments coming, resellers should look at the opportunities UCaaS provides, especially with the increasing convergence of services and demand from customers for one service provider.