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The phone is dead, long live the (digital) phone

In the not too distant future, half of the world’s connected population will be using collaboration tools. As part of this shift towards an integrated, digital way of working, how we view the phone will also change. Thanks to the growth of Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom, this has already started to happen.

Considering that the global demand for unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is expected to triple and top $140 billion by 2025, the traditional handset market will be all but dead. As critical mass starts to build in Teams, Webex, Zoom, and others, standards that enable federation between these different platforms will mature and eventually become a reality. What this means in layman’s terms is that a user will be able to instant message, video call, or see presence information regardless of the platform they use.

Even IP-based business phone systems like cloud PBX services will eventually be gobbled up by UCaaS providers. This is due to fewer people making extension calls or using the functionality of the PBX in a distributed working environment despite it being integrated into the UCaaS platform. The disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has and will still kill many industries within the telecommunications space.

Changing tides

In fact, unified communications will become one of the most important sectors in this changing new environment. Already, we are seeing Microsoft Teams dominating the market share in South Africa.

While this does not mean Webex and Zoom are irrelevant, they simply do not have the market reach and brand awareness of Microsoft in this geography.

Increasingly, people will make and receive calls from inside these platforms. This more integrated environment offers significant advantages to having separate devices (like IP-based business phones).

Licensing channel

Moreover, this will result in local service providers needing to shift their operating models.

No longer able to purely rely on hardware, cloud PABX, and voice minutes, they must begin to investigate the licensing model with Microsoft and other vendors. The reality is that resellers will start losing out on their seat licenses and need to make up for it using other means.

For customers, the transition should be a smooth one. If anything, things will become even more integrated for them with calling, messaging, collaboration, and everything in between available from within their application environments.

Direct routing (the dial pad in the app) is the way to go if operations are going to be future-proofed for any external factors driving change in the telecommunications market.

And while businesses and vendors are adjusting to more integrated, and seamless communications, at speed, service providers cannot continue to operate the same way. It is time for them to not only reinvent themselves, but also how they provide communication services. Change is inevitable, or they face the risk of becoming obsolete in a rapidly changing communications landscape.

Lean into the opportunities provided by UCaaS today with Saicom’s UnifyOne with Webex

Greg de Chasteauneuf, Chief Technology Officer of Saicom

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