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A barometer of the UCaaS market in Europe

3 min read MSPs Unified Comms
Enreach for Service Providers recently held its 2021 Partner Event and has said that it proved to be far more than just a chance to hear about Enreach developments and plans. With over 100 partners attending (whether in-person or virtually), the event was also a rare opportunity to gain some down-to-earth, real-world insight into the UCaaS market right now, particularly in the UK and Europe. One message, in particular, stood out: the industry has to work together to succeed.

A lot was packed into the one-day conference near Cannes in France. Service providers reported their honest experience over the past two years and what they consider current trends and customer requirements. Analyst firm Cavell shared data and advice around recent market growth, drivers and potential. Plus, of course, there were updates from Enreach about how it is responding to its partner community's needs. Sponsors of the conference were from Enreach’s UCaaS ecosystem: Poly, Yealink, SNOM, Oracle, Grandstream, and Cataleya.

The event kicked off with a keynote presentation from Stijn Nijhuis, CEO of Enreach, who described the group’s purpose and vision. “We see the world going towards converged contact solutions that enable meaningful human contact that brings people closer together, with context-based communication, planned or spontaneous. So that means voice, the network, mobility, productivity – everything combined. It is already happening today, helping people to work better. Partners can bring all those ingredients together for them, with help from Enreach.”

Nijhuis also said, “We want to create solutions that positively surprise the user and feel like magic. That might sound very ambitious, but if you go back to when the telephone was invented, or even the introduction of GSM, people thought it was magic, and we want to recreate that. We want to exceed expectations of what our customers believe a communications solution can do.”

Milestones

Enreach for Service Providers has experienced double-digit growth in terms of users and revenue in the past year alone, reported Bertrand Pourcelot, CEO of Enreach for Service Providers, who was next on stage. He explained how this expansion benefits partners and also presented highlights of recent and upcoming milestones.

These included the enhanced Enreach unified platform, resulting from the integration of the different technologies in the group, enabling Enreach to roll out innovations at a much faster cadence. This is also helping to bring to market faster technologies resulting from Enreach’s buy and build strategy through smoother, consistent integration. Achievements so far include blending UC and contact centres, marketing automation, and intelligent, multi-channel chat, all integrated into the product portfolio.

Headroom for growth

Dom Black, director of research for the Cavell Group, then shared some impressive data about the market. While it is no surprise that the adoption of cloud communications services has accelerated to around 19 million installed users in Europe by Q2 this year, market penetration is still only on average 20 per cent across the region. Furthermore, with approximately a third of businesses expecting to change suppliers in the next 12 months, the potential is vast.

Black described how this is currently a market of challenge (such as increasing competition) and evolution (IT and telecoms colliding and new commercial models emerging) but one where partners have a pivotal role to play. Critical to success, however, is differentiation and addressing several purchasing drivers. Apart from providing the right technology, these include positive customer and support reviews, local presence, and sustainability.

Integrated roadmap and productivity focus

Other sessions included a detailed introduction to Enreach’s new desktop, mobile and web clients for an improved UX. A consistent interface across all products, with support for faster customer response, easier cross-selling, white-labelling, and customisation are some of the advantages to partners (who retain ownership of customer relationships and contracts).

After a deeper dive into the product and value-add services roadmap — including an interactive presentation on Microsoft productivity products — some live demos showed how Enreach can add to the Teams experience by integrating mobile and AI features. In addition, Enreach’s Microsoft partner Qunifi talked about how service providers can maximise the opportunity offered by Microsoft.

Finally, two of the day’s highlights were on-stage roundtable discussions with service providers from the audience sharing their recent experiences and opinions.

Partner voices

Topics included the impact of Covid, such as having to deal with high demand and dealing with customer expectations. Moving forward was also debated, including the need to educate the market and help business customers to prepare for the longer term, now that it is clear that remote and hybrid-working are here to stay. “Go deep and go broad in your discussions with customers” was one comment.

Mobile convergence was another roundtable theme and acknowledged some of the industry's hurdles to date but also discussed how these are being overcome. For example, integrating mobility with business applications such as CRMs is a gateway to fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), with contact centre agents or other customer-facing employees increasingly using their mobile handsets regardless of location, with compliance requirements supported. In addition, one commentator noted that many new business customers are now bypassing desk phones and choosing to go straight to mobile devices.

Cloud communications are critical to remaining agile, the panels agreed, plus the need to be open to new market opportunities and to collaborate because, as one panellist said, “we’re all in this together.” This comment complemented Bertrand Pourcelot’s closing remarks, which included this key takeaway: “I think that when you care, you find the right way to work with people and build what is needed. That’s why we prioritise our partner-friendly culture, and while we are big enough to have the right resources, our entrepreneurial culture means we retain a personal approach. Plus, we are a European company with local expertise and resources. Our partners are integral to our future, and we are stronger together.”