Unified communications market up significantly so far in 2021

Sales across Europe through distribution are up significantly year on year as demand keeps rising

The unified communications (UC) market has continued to steam ahead in 2021, with an analysis of the first few months of 2021 indicating that demand is remaining firm.

An analysis of the demand for UC across Europe in the first few months of the year found that sales through distribution were up by 60% year on year (YoY).

Customers have been clamouring for UC cameras and microphones, with the UK market experiencing a 26% YoY improvement so far in 2021. That sounds impressive, but the level was much lower than Germany (90%), France (124%) and Spain (66%), which posted growth above the European average.

“Overall, the unified communications market has been booming since the start of the pandemic thanks to demand from home workers and students, and these trends are continuing today as users still rely on UC to enhance productivity,” said Sam Naman, research and business development manager at Context.

“Another contributing factor is adoption of new video communications technology, which many organisations are still in the process of rolling out company-wide.”

The problem with making yearly comparisons with 2020 is that, as restrictions lift, it is going to be difficult to mimic the sales that were driven by lockdown conditions.

“However, going forward, we’re likely to see YoY sales growth slowing due to the incredibly strong 2020 the UC category had, and the acceleration of back-to-work plans in some countries,” said Naman.

Context is already tracking signs that a return to the office is driving demand for different technologies in the UC segment. April saw increases in sales of collaboration display systems and room systems, with cameras, headsets, microphones and speakers starting to fall back from their peaks.

Demand has also been stirring for IP phones, which experienced a collapse in sales last year, as more offices start to deploy the technology, with 16% YoY revenue growth in April.

With the ISDN switch-off getting ever closer and the hybrid working world provoking a debate about the future of work, some of the large comms players are reacting to those changes by arming their partners with greater flexibility.

Virgin Media Business is hoping it can shake up the wholesale connectivity market by allowing its channel to offer customers wholesale Ethernet, leased line and High Capacity Services, on a cancel any time, flexible contract.

The firm is pointing out that this marks the first time that its 600-plus partners will have had this level of flexible access to wholesale business connectivity on its national network.

“We’re ripping up the rulebook to give our customers flexibility and the best prices guaranteed,” said Mike Hallam, executive director of wholesale at Virgin Media Business.

“We’re stepping up for our partners with this radical shift so they have the confidence, cashflow and commercial agility they need to help their customers bounce back stronger than ever,” he added.

Read more on Unified Communications (UC) Services