Discussing the Rise of XaaS with Frost & Sullivan
We talk to Frost & Sullivan about XaaS and UCC
World-leading analytics company, Frost & Sullivan, recently released its latest study on the Unified Communications and Collaboration environment, the “Global UCC Industry Outlook 2019” report. The research looks at the rapid evolution of UCC technology as businesses move from an on-premises environment, into the flexible space of technology delivered over the cloud.
As everything as a service (XaaS) and cloud-based communication tools grow increasingly popular for today’s agile businesses, we caught up with Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst, Digital Transformation, Rob Arnold, to learn more. Rob works primarily within the “Connected Work” segment of Frost & Sullivan, which concentrates on the unified communication and customer experience spaces. He shared his thoughts with me about the changing ecosystem and what UCC means in the current landscape.
Are People Feeling More Comfortable with XaaS?
Arnold told me that his team at Frost & Sullivan examine who’s currently winning in the UCC market, and what kind of technology is most important to the evolving consumer base. The most recent analysis conducted in the Global UCC Industry Outlook report suggests that businesses are getting more comfortable with the idea of “as a service” offerings in the market, which means that they can move beyond the search for reliability and flexibility.
“The quality of as-a-service offerings has improved a lot in recent years. Because of this, companies are beginning to feel more comfortable exploring richer features in their UCC offerings, like enhanced mobility features and disruptive technologies in team collaboration”
Frost & Sullivan has noticed a significant improvement in willingness to implement new applications delivered through hosted environments. Even things like software-defined networking (SDN), AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are beginning to affect purchasing decisions in the UCC space. With XaaS, companies have the freedom to consume advanced technology more flexibly and affordably.
Are We Entering a Hybrid Era?
While there’s certainly a lot of appetite in the UCC environment for the cloud, most companies are still running their technology predominantly on-premises. There’s a long road ahead before we’re living in a situation where everything is cloud-based, but according to Arnold, adoption is already happening at an incredible pace.
“We’re already seeing improved adoption of the cloud. For larger companies – particularly organisations in the private enterprise – it is a bit of a slower process, because these businesses have their strategies to consider when it comes to growth philosophies and controls. The hybrid era for these companies means that larger enterprises can continue to access the control they need in certain places, while still unlocking the freedom and flexibility of the cloud for other requirements.”
Rob told me that businesses are approaching the age of hybrid in different ways, depending on their size and needs. Some people see “hybrid” as a combination of different cloud products. Others think that hybrid is the connection between cloud and on-premise tools. It all depends on your position in the current industry, and how adaptable you can be.
How do You See the Value of the CSP Changing?
Interestingly, as hybrid cloud and as-a-service solutions become more appealing to the modern marketplace, there are still many major CSPs in the industry that offer only cloud solutions. These pure-cloud offerings may be useful for some companies, but service providers that fail to provide a hybrid alternative could be missing an important opportunity in today’s market.
“When you go to mid-market and above, that’s where companies are starting to look for a combination of on-prem and cloud. It’s much easier for smaller businesses to dump their legacy tools and move straight to the cloud.”
Service providers still have an important role to play in the current marketplace, but there’s a good chance that they will become more specialist over time as platform vendors compete to earn the same customers in the same space. In this competitive environment, service providers can’t afford to miss an opportunity to gain an edge with a robust hybrid offering. As Frost & Sullivan’s recent report found, successful service providers in UCC will need to make sure that they’re taking advantage of growth opportunities by:
- Packaging the features and functionality that businesses need to take advantage of the latest offerings in the UCC industry
- Developing a broader communications and IT service portfolio through a wider partner ecosystem and input from specialist organisations
- Expanding their portfolios through both internal development and M&A, with new packages that offer UCaaS, hybrid cloud, contact centre, team collaboration, and multi-media conferencing
- Innovating with new business models that fill the gaps in the existing market (specifically for larger businesses that aren’t ready to move directly into the cloud)
What Were the Stand-Out Findings from the Research?
Frost & Sullivan’s latest report found that customer and user experience are still some of the major components driving the adoption of crucial UCC solutions. Service providers going forward will need to provide high levels of customization to ensure that their solutions can deliver the most significant business and user benefits. I asked Arnold what he considered to be some of the most stand-out findings from the latest report, he told me:
“I think one impressive thing is how quickly as-a-service offerings are expanding and overtaking traditional equipment spend.People are starting to feel more comfortable with as-a-service solutions, and the marketplace is beginning to take off as a result.”
Another interesting finding in Rob’s opinion is that multi-media conferencing solutions are quickly overtaking traditional audio conferencing options.
“People want to be able to do more in a conference than talk. Standalone options are going to be quickly replaced by solutions that combine content sharing, video, and web conferencing solutions”
Additionally, on the endpoint side, Arnold noted that phones aren’t going away any time soon. The business phone is still a powerful device in UCC, and it now has more processing power and functionality than ever, to support the rise of new apps in the workplace. While the endpoint’s purpose may be changing, it’s still as valuable as ever.