IP telephony and UCaaS markets grind to a halt

European hosted Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) market will experience slower-than-anticipated growth in terms of both users and revenue in 2020 and 2021 due to churn in the installed base and reduced new user acquisitions, according to a report penned by Frost & Sullivan.

The report with the catchy title Growth Opportunities in the European Hosted IP Telephony and UCaaS Market, Forecast to 2026, finds that the market will bounce back in 2022 and maintain a steady trajectory until 2026. The market is estimated to double in terms of provider revenue from 2019 to 2026, with installed users reaching 76.3 million by the end of the forecast period.

Frost & Sullivan Vice President of Research, Information and Communications Technologies Elka Popova said: “Remote work mandates due to COVID-19 will create an unprecedented opportunity for service providers to promote software-based communications as a key enabler of business continuity as well as demonstrate the flexibility of UCaaS and cloud services in terms of capacity adjustments and location-agnostic services delivery. The need to rapidly accommodate a larger number of remote workers and digitally transform entire organizations within a short span of time will favorably position providers with flexible packaging and pricing, efficient provisioning, and solutions that are feature-rich yet intuitive, mobile-ready, and easy to use and manage.”

Popova said: “From a growth perspective, the Nordic and Benelux UCaaS markets are maturing fast, whereas considerable untapped opportunities remain in the rest of Europe, with Central and Eastern European markets likely to experience the highest growth rate due to the large addressable market in under-penetrated countries such as Russia.”

To capitalise on immense opportunities presented by the hosted IP telephony and UCaaS market in Europe, companies should focus on the following trends, F&S reckons:

> Due to the COVID-19 crisis, businesses and individuals operating/working remotely are more likely to use a variety of cloud services to remain connected. This trend is expected to positively impact demand for conferencing and collaboration services along with cloud calling services.

> Contact centers, vertical markets, frontline workers, and Unified Communications (UC) embedded in productivity, business and vertical apps or Internet of Things (IoT) devices represent new growth opportunities. Hence, vendors should identify unique needs and new use cases to provide differentiated value as core markets mature.

> Communications and collaboration upgrades must be treated as part of long-term digital transformation strategies. Aligning UCaaS deployments with customers’ broader business goals and IT roadmaps will be fruitful.

> Competition is intensifying as incumbent carriers, next-gen domestic providers, and international competitors target European businesses with compelling UCaaS offerings. International expansion can help providers capitalize on untapped opportunities in less-penetrated markets, as well as better serve multi-national businesses.