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Navigating the future of Unified Communications Simon Horton, VP Int.l Sales at Sangoma

As we head in to 2023, many companies will be looking to tighten the purse strings as the likelihood of a recession looms. While the world of Unified Communications continues to thrive amidst the ever-flexible world of work, there is set to be a natural shift as vendors look for ways to cut costs to avoid being bought out by competitors – or worse, face collapse.

In order to avoid this fate, vendors must look to the future and optimise the end-user experience to continue both the opportunities and economic growth of partners. In what continues to be a cut-throat period for businesses, vendors must take advantage of the shortcomings of competitors when it comes to both budgeting and finetuning of solutions ahead of the ISDN switch off.

With the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market estimated to reach a value of $44.7 billion by 2030, and Gartnerobserving that 52% of clients pursuing UCaaS in the past year belong to organisations having more than 5,000 users, it is clear that the adoption of UCaaS among the largest segment is becoming the default desired option. Despite economic instability, businesses will continue to turn away from traditional markets in order to ensure business continuity, enabling cloud-native solutions to thrive.

Here are my predictions for the Unified Communications (UC) market in 2023.

Consolidation of the channel

While we have traditionally seen smaller sellers within the market, these are set to be overtaken by new sellers on the block, meaning traditional telecom sellers are becoming more horizontal than vertical.

This consolidation of the channel is set to simplify the process, becoming an all-encompassing system for UCaaS and the opportunities on offer. This will add remote management which in turn creates less physical tech management, while simultaneously adding another capability and further services to partner portfolios.

Ultimately, this consolidation helps to streamline the supply chain, strengthen partner relations and offer distinct selling opportunities and deals. This will also allow resellers to expand horizons to the agency model should they wish, and vendors should champion choice for partners moving forward into the new year.

Move from a reseller model to an agency model

Traditionally, vendors have worked through a reseller model – particularly in the UK. However, as the market continues to grow with more businesses investing in a UC solution, agency models are becoming more common.

Agency models afford partners the flexibility and time to focus on new business opportunities while leaving the agent and the vendor to use their knowledge and experience and do the heavy lifting on their behalf. These models allow partners to introduce vendors to opportunities that extend their current offering, whilst enabling the resellers to earn commission through the deal.

As vendors push for an establishment of security in the market, as well as differentiation to competitors, they will look to provide their partners with the consolidation of offerings that their customers want and need.

 Diversification of UC

As expected, the UC market is expected to continue along its path of innovation as competitors move to maximise the end-user experience into next year, and beyond.

While cloud-based single services such as Zoom move to add more compatibility features such as email and calendar, and with WhatsApp pay on the horizon, it is clear they are playing catch-up with UC platforms.

It is important for UC services to stay ahead of the curve, and so we are likely to see a continuation of app stores where end-users can add features to put on side with UC deployment, such as cloud video meet applications and other opportunities for increased collaboration and communication.

Weathering the storm ahead

Looking forward, as we navigate the unstable economy, it is crucial for resellers to be aware of what is happening to vendors and to be conscious of the rise in costs, as this ultimately has the potential to collapse the channel. The channel must stay be on its toes or run the risk of vendors going around the channel completely.

As we push into the new year the streamlining and digitalisation of organisations will continue to be a priority for business leaders as they ramp up to the ISDN turn off. In 2023 it will be fundamental that all businesses know what their plan is – and this will inevitably be a turn to the cloud and UC.

UC solutions must offer a buffet of services or face losing out to competitors who are keeping up with trends such as consolidating the channel, consideration of agency models and expansion of their services.

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