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Flexible working and mergers driving UC investment

The demand for UC and collaboration tools is being driven by market conditions that resellers need to watch out for

The market for UC and collaboration tools has been a solid one for the last couple of years as customers look to put the foundations in for the next phase of growth.

Research from Pearlfinders, a business information company that interviews over 3,000 senior IT decision-makers every year, has not only highlighted the main customers for UC and collaboration but also the reasons for the investment.

Industry.manufacturing is the top vertical, and has been for the last three years, with travel/transport, automotive, financial service and FMCG filling out the top five.

"Having tracked the spending plans of over 3,000 senior IT budget-holders over the last 12 months, sales teams should be encouraged to learn that 22% of all IT decision-makers interviewed in 2015 are planning to increase UC investment this year," said Mike Thornwe, commercial director at Pearlfinders.
"Demand for UC in the automotive and travel sectors is higher than ever, as everyone from Kia and Vauxhall to Virgin Trains look to implement the level of mobility, collaboration and connectivity that staff and customers expect at every touch-point," he added.

When it comes to identifying the triggers for investment those customers that are restructuring are first in the frame, followed by those looking to improve service.

It is also a good idea for the channel to keep an eye on those going through a merger or acquisition and those customers that have appointed a new CIO, because those conditions are also triggers for spending.

"Two trends suppliers stand to benefit from in particular are companies getting serious about flexible working, and the record levels of M&A activity. There is a huge opportunity for UC providers able to identify potential clients that fall into either of these categories," said Thorne.
"CIOs are increasingly under internal pressure to meet 2014 legislation on flexible working - analysts predict 70% of businesses will be flexible by 2020 - and UC experts are in a strong position to act as trusted advisors on this. Based on our interviews with senior IT budget-holders over the last 12 months, almost twice as many are reviewing UC & mobility provision, with over 70% identifying internal restructuring as the main catalyst for investment," hev added.

In addition to the flexible working driver there also continues to be plenty of M&A activity, which is also a major spur to UC investment.
"1 in 3 companies that merged in 2015 will be looking to review comms providers this year," added Thorne "Naturally, mergers represent an excellent opportunity for UC providers, as PSLs and infrastructure are inevitably reviewed at both companies. CIOs at merging firms - often with a fresh mandate to upgrade ageing equipment and connect new sites - make some of the best prospects."

UC Expo is running for the next couple of days in London, tapping into the current buzz around the technology, and plenty of sessions will cover the topic of mobile working.

An increasing number of staff expect to be able to work remotely and the future workforce has grown up without ever relying on the traditional land lines.

“With a growing workforce of digital natives – not to mention multiple obstacles such as travel strikes in cities such as London – it’s not surprising that people favour a flexible approach to their work. Employers need to keep up with their staff’s technology and working preferences in order to retain them," said Bradley Maule-ffinch, director of Strategy for UC Expo.

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