Markets and Trends

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) Service Providers See Beyond the Pendulum Swings

Learn how service providers in the UCaaS market affirm the changing needs of businesses in two new companion IDC MarketScape reports with Denise Lund.
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Let’s face it. The crystal ball doesn’t always work. More than ever before, businesses of all sizes struggle to invest in just the right mix of technologies to keep employees communicating and collaborating with each other and with customers. As the pandemic took hold, more than forty percent of businesses found that their 2020 budgeted spend on cloud-based communication services wasn’t enough to meet their needs. And this happened nearly overnight. SMBs and enterprises were left to grapple with remote workforce enablement while ensuring business continuity.

This is driving demand for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solutions. Are you unsure of where to start in finding a solution for cloud-based communications to keep employees talking, chatting, meeting, and collaborating remotely today and in a hybrid work arrangement tomorrow?  While having choice is a good problem, the sheer quantity of available UCaaS solutions can overwhelm. Our newly published assessment of UCaaS service provider capabilities and strategies boils it down. 

Alright, let’s step back a moment. So we agree there are numerous service providers — including network carriers, cable companies, and over-the-top (OTT) service providers — presenting buyers each with slightly different UCaaS feature bundles, integrations, customer support programs, security capabilities, and associated solutions. Each delivers a slightly different end user experience for employees, and this is not insignificant, especially for small businesses that lack formal IT support and training departments. SMBs tell IDC that that pricing, bundling of services and simplification are increasing in importance when they are looking at UCaaS solutions. Enterprises tell IDC it is critical that their UCaaS solution deliver increased security along with reduced burden on IT and cost savings when it comes to communications across their employee base and with customers.

It Is Not a Choice Between Today or the Future

Businesses of all sizes want their technology investments to grow with them. By their very nature, UCaaS solutions are designed to deliver on this goal being that they are hosted, multitenant solutions that give buyers the flexibility to add or decommission end user seats on a monthly basis. There are no infrastructure investments that buyers have to make. Buyers do not have to worry about buying too much or too little today and being stuck with it for years to come.

Service providers have been working hard to provide a continuum of bundled features at different prices from entry level to advanced, fully integrated solutions with elements of broader unified communications and collaboration as well as contact center services add-on options. Based on conversations with UCaaS buyers and service providers, IDC sees UCaaS solution options for SMBs that include:

  • Different price and package composition, self-help implementation and support resources, mobile emphasis, and a clear path for an SMB to have its needs met by that same vendor over time as its business changes.
  • Different implementations and visions for what a positive user experience (UX) looks like, ranging from simplified implementation services to easy-to-use streamlined features within the voice call and chat interface itself. Note that we’ve found that consumerized experiences are not common just yet in the UCaaS solution set being targeted to SMBs, but we expect this will be a growing trend.

We also see UCaaS solution options for Enterprise buyers that include:

  • Having security and network orchestration services across a broader set of voice and data communications services versus having solely a standalone UCaaS solution is a differentiator, as is having a simplified user and administrator experience.
  • Strategies for UCaaS solution integrations with popular enterprise software, including collaboration suites, increasing their relevancy to large organizations.

Explore More UCaaS Service Provider Trends in IDC’s MarketScape Report

Organizations struggle to balance their near term and long term needs for communications solutions. If a small business forgets about the user experience and ease of implementation, the pain of solution implementation and use will be too great for success. If an enterprise does not come to the table with a vision of how they want their UCaaS solution integrated with other collaboration and enterprise software, the pain to switch vendors or devise integrations when the UCaaS solution is not designed with this in mind will wreak havoc on business resources.

It is therefore vital to evaluate the service provider’s solution packages, capabilities, training, portfolio, and vision that support positive user experiences, integration, and ability to grow with the business needs.

IDC recently published the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide UCaaS Service Providers for SMB 2020–2021 Vendor Assessment and the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide UCaaS Service Providers for Enterprise 2020 – 2021 Vendor Assessment. These IDC MarketScapes helps business and IT decision makers with their UCaaS vendor evaluation process for UCaaS solutions, defined by IDC as integrated voice, video, messaging, and meeting services delivered via IP in the cloud and sold on a monthly recurring subscription basis. 

The IDC MarketScape report uses a comprehensive framework to assess these vendors relative to a set of criteria that explain both short-term and long-term success in the UCaaS market. The research methodology applies a rigorous scoring methodology based on quantitative measures, qualitative vendor briefings, and customer references.

Read the entire IDC MarketScape: Worldwide UCaaS Service Provider for SMB 2021 Vendor Assessment here:

Read the entire IDC MarketScape: Worldwide UCaaS Service Provider for Enterprise 2021 Vendor Assessment here:

Research Director, WW Telecom and Unified Communications