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Partner Growth Opportunities in the Evolving UC Market : Market Shifts Call for a Broader Skill Set and Portfolio

  • March 2015
  • 52 pages
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 2797394

Summary

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

•Partners are increasingly essential in the changing information and communications world. The enterprise communications market is transitioning from dedicated hardware-based platforms to a blended ecosystem of services- and software-centric platforms deployed on the customer premises.
•Technology advancements and new business models have lowered adoption barriers and are making solutions more powerful and compelling for customer organizations of all sizes.
•End-user organizations are actively migrating from legacy and standalone communications platforms to richer, tightly integrated applications environments on-premises and as hosted and cloud solutions.
•As buying patterns shift toward hosted and cloud services it is important for traditional channel partners to build their business practices and recurring revenue streams in the early days of the market’s formation, before competition intensifies greatly and more customers lock into long-term provider relationships.
•While demand for cloud services is rising, demand for premises-based platform support remains strong. Many organizations will require a mix. Integrating customer-owned assets with cloud services is an increasing requirement.
•Going forward, channel partners must sell and support a wider range of deployment and consumption models. Access to premises-based, hosted/cloud and hybrid solutions is a necessity.
•The components that can be part of the UC stack is growing. Channels must possess broader skill sets than their telephony-centric predecessors. Network, IT, voice and other expertise is required to delivery integrated and flexible, yet complex solutions that are increasingly in demand.
•Channel organizations must recognize that they are partnering into a technology ecosystem which gives them access to supply more of the UC stack to customers and augment their skills, services and portfolios through other ecosystem members.
•Although unified communications (UC) has been marketed for years, customer decision makers need help understanding UC. Partners must help each customer define their own UC strategy and solutions.
•Sales approaches must match customer buying patterns for utility-based or higher-value solutions, which allow customers to migrate to UC at their own pace.
•Many customers continue to buy applications on a utility basis. Value propositions of efficiency in terms of cost savings, cost reduction and low price resonate with these buyers.
•Farming refers to the practice of upgrading or migrating a legacy customer base or utility-centric accounts to more advanced UC solution environments. Farming is essential to long-term partner success because utility solutions will further commoditize, challenging profitability. Relationships must be nurtured, often for years before customers embrace more advanced functionality.
•Also critical is an emphasis on hunting or growing one’s customer base through new account acquisitions. Customer on-boarding to new partners brings opportunities for conversations that help customers move to higher-value solutions.
•Organizations further along in their UC implementations and those that employ a strategic IT procurement strategy are likely to recognize UC’s potential to enhance business processes and outcomes.
•A consultative sales approach is increasingly important for higher-value sales. Channel partners must understand customer business drivers and initiatives in order to help them create long-term roadmaps which mitigate disruption amid transitions and deliver the promised benefits of more robust functionality. Therefore, a consultative approach for higher-vale sales requires partners to engage with stakeholders outside of IT, such as line-of-business decision makers seeking solutions for their respective cost or profit centers.

CEO’s Perspective

UC market evolution requires channel partners to possess both equipment and services-based UC solutions sales and support skills.
Pure-play voice resellers are outmoded. Partners must address a wider berth of customer voice, network, IT and business issues.
Partners must recognize the opportunities to leverage utility-based purchase decisions and grow those accounts over time into higher-value UC accounts.
Trust relationships and a consultative sales approach are essential to sell more than basic communications functionality and address real business concerns.
Partners should help customers define their own UC, and help to build roadmaps for more advanced functionality in the future.

Unified Communications

• UC is an integrated set of voice, data and video communications applications which leverage common user identity and rich presence information.
• UC solutions simplify communications for end users by giving them ubiquitous and seamless access to various tools.
• The benefits of UC are based on the vision for ultimate flexibility in accessing communications and collaboration capabilities—anywhere, anytime, on any device and any network.
• A premises-based solution is one that is deployed with intelligent server components implemented on the customer’s estate.
• A hosted UC solution involves the delivery of pre-integrated network-based applications for a recurring fee.

Unified Communications Revenue Opportunities

•Time division multiplexing (TDM) product revenues are fading; Frost & Sullivan expects global revenues from TDM-based on-premises PBX line licenses to decline by x percent to account for just x percent of the $ x B on-premises PBX platform market in 2020.
•Revenues from IP-based on-premises PBX systems will rise to x percent of the market aggregate in 2020.
•Lines capable of supporting IP and SIP endpoints pave the way for UC applications sales. Endpoints such as UC soft clients create opportunities to improve user access to business call control from desktops and mobile devices, as well as integrate voice with IM/chat, rich presence and audio, video and web conferencing.
•The hosted and cloud IP telephony and UC services market is gaining momentum. North America leads the way in adoption. In 2013, the North American hosted IP telephony and UC services user base grew by x percent to reach x million users.
•In 2013, hosted and cloud UCC services revenues (without access) in North America grew a healthy x percent as demand increased and average revenues per user remained relatively stable. Market growth will remain steady from 2013 to 2020 at compound annual growth rates of x percent in terms of installed users and x percent in terms of revenues (without access).
•SMBs and multi-site organizations are leading the way in hosted and cloud UC services adoption.
•Hosted and cloud UC services appeal to many companies buying telephony as a utility. This is creating upsell and cross sell opportunities for higher-value UC applications.
•Larger organizations are expanding the scope of hybrid solutions. Larger organizations often expect to integrate services with premises-based assets, subscribe to only certain apps in the UC stack, and/or implement outsourced solutions at specific locations.

A Taller UC Stack

•Market participants continue to evangelize the advantages of converged voice and data networks. The operational efficiencies of a single network to manage and maintain for on-premises or hosted solutions support is foundational to UC and is a value proposition most customer decision makers believe in.
•Wide adoption of mature standards (such as H.323 and SIP), and the development of new standards (i.e. H.264, WebRTC, HTML5) continue to broaden the range of communications and IT components that may be integrated with the UC stack.
•UC integration with business applications and processes anchors the UC effectiveness propositions that are necessary to inspire sales beyond utility-based purchase decisions.
•Robust mobile support is now a must-have capability for all UC solutions. Further, expectations for mobile productivity are rapidly shifting. While consumption-based use cases still pervade today, users are demanding more productivity (e.g., the capability to contribute and produce) from mobile devices.
•Video communications is more economically supported on converged networks. Adoption is growing as high-quality video applications are now widely available as standalone platforms or services, integrated into UC desktop or mobile clients and web conferencing, and increasingly with business applications.
•A full spectrum of voice, video and collaboration software can now be implemented on virtual machines. Server virtualization lowers total cost of ownership (TCO) for premises-based solutions. It also creates more efficient platforms as the basis of cloud UC services, resulting in more robust functionality at lower subscription prices for end-user organizations.
•Virtualization allows UC applications software to be implemented in the next-generation data center or private cloud alongside a customer’s other IT assets, and can be employed to transform telephony wiring closets into small data centers. The benefits are spurring customer demand and it is therefore becoming more important for partners to be versed in virtual technology.

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