Providers of Hosted Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) in the European market are enhancing their portfolios as well as engaging in mergers and acquisitions to gain an edge in the intensely competitive market.
Forward-looking providers are adopting a more consultative sales approach by positioning cloud communications as a critical part of digital transformation, and are embedding communications in popular third-party software to streamline workflows.
"While sophisticated, feature-rich UCaaS solutions are critical for service provider success, the future is programmable communications,” said Elka Popova, Unified Communications & Collaboration Programme Director. "Providers need to deliver flexible application programming interfaces (APIs) and Communications Platforms-as-a-Service (CPaaS) to hold their own against the next wave of innovations from non-UC companies. Meanwhile, competitors that employ analytics tools to combine workflow/business app data with communications stats will be able to present clients with deeper insights into business issues such as productivity bottlenecks and business process disruptions."
"Given that the European market is not as fragmented as the US market, the entry barriers are high for smaller competitors that could potentially present innovative solutions," noted Popova. "The consequent feature parity in hosted IP telephony offerings compels service providers to differentiate themselves through value-added capabilities such as analytics, advanced contact centres, extensive regulatory certifications, engaging interfaces, or creative services packaging and pricing."
The Benelux and the Nordic countries, which have been the earliest adopters of hosted IP telephony and UCaaS, will experience the highest penetration, whereas the under-penetrated Central and Eastern European countries will witness the highest growth rates.
Frost & Sullivan states that service providers can achieve greater success by capitalising on the growth opportunities in the following areas:
• Enable solution enhancements such as mobility, advanced conferencing and collaboration, Artificial Intelligence (AI).
• Harness tangential services such as broadband, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), and software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN).
• Tailored solutions for micro businesses, large enterprises, and vertical industries.
• Operational improvements in service reliability and scalability, provisioning and billing systems, digital customer engagement, and customer service and support.
• Competitive pricing, simple and easy-to-use solutions, and digital channels for the small business customer segment.
• Mobile-first solutions for prosumers, small office home office (SOHO), and very small businesses that are looking to switch from their desktop phones and fixed-line phone services.
• Advanced features and flexible customisation and integration options for the medium and large business segments.
Frost & Sullivan’s offers its analysis in its latest report called "European Hosted IP Telephony and UCaaS Market, Forecast to 2024".