Unified Communications Market in the Gulf Grows through Competitive Pricing, Customer-friendly Service, and Comprehensive Offerings

Government, oil and gas and BFSI sectors dominate in the UC applications and services market, finds Frost & Sullivan’s Digital Transformation team

Growth in unified communications (UC) applications and services due to the global shift from time division multiplexing (TDM) to the Internet protocol-private branch exchange (IP-PBX) telephony model is reflecting in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market as well, though at a lower rate. Cloud adoption is presently low in the region when compared with other developed and developing nations, but industry participants remain optimistic as digital investments are a priority for GCC. However, customers will seek a wide range of UC offerings at attractive price points through a single provider.

“The ‘do-it-right-now’ attitude among businesses will be a significant growth driver for UC and collaboration solutions in the GCC,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Digital Transformation Senior Consulting Analyst Rajarshi Dhar. “A growing mobile workforce in the region also demands technology tools that shorten communication turnaround times. Conferencing, mobility, unified messaging and instant messaging will offer UC vendors and service providers the opportunity to provide a consultative sales approach while negotiating with customers. However, regulatory reform in certain countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia and UAE, specific to blocking selected VoIP services, will drive further impetus in the growth of UC in the region.”

Unified Communications (UC) Market in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), 2016–2021, a part of Frost & Sullivan’s Enterprise Communications Growth Partnership Service program, analyses opportunities for UC vendors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The study offers in-depth insights for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), telecom service providers (TSPs), system integrators (SIs), investors, market evangelists, and government bodies to gauge the current market and plan for potential growth.

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The GCC market for UC stood at $754.3 million in 2016 and is expected to grow to $1,358.7 million by 2021. Major market players include CiscoAvaya,MicrosoftIBMPolycomLifeSizeAlcatel Lucent and Mitel. Comprehensive offerings, competitive pricing, and customer-friendly service-level agreements will be top expansion strategies.

Key market trends seen in the overall UC applications and services market in the GCC include:

·        Steady growth that can be leveraged using a well-thought-out strategy;
·        Strongest investment from government sectors; oil & gas; banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) and IT/ITeS, despite the turmoil in the oil & gas sector;
·        Increasing acceptance due to smart city initiatives in KSA and UAE;
·        Mostly single-digit growth in smaller countries like Bahrain and Oman until 2021;
·        Increasing enterprise preference to connect with customers across omni-channels, particularly vibrant mediums such as social media, video, email, and live chat;
·        Regulatory constraints as certain governments forbid data hosting in contact centres outside the country, challenging unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) usage; and
·        Demand for efficient communication tools in the hospitality, education, and customer service sectors, among others.

“UC service providers are experiencing demand for a scalable UCaaS portfolio, which comes at a low cost with a strong presence in instant messaging, presence, mobility and conferencing services,” said Dhar. “OEMs in the region will also focus on the midmarket and small-to-medium business segment to expand and reduce the dependency on large enterprises.”