Seizing the cloud communications market opportunity
As businesses throughout the UK were forced to work remotely, leaders had to quickly equip their employees with communication solutions that they could use effectively from home. As well as remote working, other external factors such as the 2025 switch off of ISDN and PTSN have meant that businesses need to prepare for an all-IP world.
In light of this, we partnered with Cavell to see where the market opportunity for cloud communications lies, and what our channel partners can be doing to capitalise on it.
With the sudden enforcement of remote working, common deployment models for communication solutions, in terms of on-premises systems and infrastructure, became much less viable overnight. The uptake of remote and flexible working within businesses accelerated beyond any forecast levels. Our research with Cavell found that 20% of companies surveyed had over half of their workforces working remotely in 2019, this grew to 41% in 2020.
Businesses needed to find new solutions that offered rapid remote deployment, easy anywhere access, and the cutting-edge functions and features their users needed to thrive in a remote world. Cloud-based communication solutions provided businesses with the flexibility, scalability, and rapid deployment options they needed to ensure that they could keep their workforce productive and effective as the pandemic swept the UK. Demand for cloud-based systems generally, but particularly in communications, has been amplified, with our research finding that 55% of large businesses - those with over 1000 employees - used more than five cloud applications internally in 2019; this will increase to 71% in 12 months, highlighting a huge market opportunity for channel partners.
Our research found that communication service providers witnessed a 62% increase in demand for collaboration solutions. Collaboration applications and unified communications (UC) solutions are increasingly overlapping as businesses look for holistic solutions that offer a consolidated variety of different communication tools inside one hosted solution. Messaging, video and audio conferencing, and telephony are now regular requirements for cloud-based communication solutions.
Businesses within vertical sectors in the UK have dramatically different requirements for their communication and collaboration solutions. In some cases, the drivers for adopting collaborative functions did not correlate with benefits realised post deployment.
2025 switch off
Infrastructure and connectivity changes are also accelerating the UK market’s adoption of cloud-based communication services. Updating the country’s infrastructure and moving away from outdated legacy technology will improve capabilities for nearly all the UK’s businesses. Over the next few years, UK-based business will no longer be able to purchase integrated services digital network (ISDN) and public switched telephone network (PSTN) circuits. The transition to VoIP networks will be completed by 2025 and this has accelerated the plans of businesses which will now be exploring their options and reviewing their communications infrastructure.
The switch-off will impact a large number of businesses in the UK but a higher proportion of SMBs who are still using analogue lines. 42% of those businesses, over 2M in total, will need to make the digital switchover.
This switch-off is accelerating cloud uptake and driving the cloud communication market’s rapid growth. 80% of employees we spoke to said better communication would make a big difference to their success. It provides a huge opportunity for partners to offer businesses of all sizes a viable alternative to their current communication systems and leverage the market opportunity.
As Gavin Jones summarised: “Covid-19 has created a market pull for collaboration and accelerated transformation that needed to happen. Hybrid working means we need to adapt yet again, and virtual meeting rooms for effective collaboration will be critical. The PSTN switch-off is fast approaching and the pull for cloud is accelerating, forcing businesses to reconsider and move to cloud, to leverage its flexibility and connectivity.”