The future of the South African Unified Communications Market

The increasing availability of good quality Unified Communications (UC) solutions, with expanded functionality, and growing interoperability between systems, is resulting in renewed interest in the UC product suite. In general, the South African market trails behind more developed markets in terms of adoption of UC products. However, in some respects it is more progressive through greater openness to a multi-vendor environment, integrating different brand components into a single system. This often allows quicker and less expensive deployment of UC solutions. Moreover, the comparatively high cost of bandwidth in SA is driving users towards an integrated omni-channel model more quickly, in order to economise on bandwidth and equipment.

South African Unified Communications Market Status

Based on feedback from the local providers of UC solutions, the market is at a very early growth phase, with larger companies demonstrating stronger interest and uptake than the SMEs. The expectation is for accelerating, strong growth of UC solutions over the next two to three years, with the SME market trailing behind the large enterprises, but increasingly subscribing to “commoditised” UC solutions in the cloud as this option becomes more viable.

Priority is still being given by many companies to convergence of networks/infrastructure and enablement of mobile users, as well as the implementation of VoIP. They are in the process of putting in place building blocks that will allow the adoption of UC in the future.

Currently, many service providers offer standardised UC solutions – one size fits all. However, as the market becomes more sophisticated and the requirement for customised solutions grows, a level of complexity will be added. This is likely to result in a growing need for system integration skills and consulting services as future revenue streams.

The transformation taking place in the workplace – a move towards a more collaborative environment, with a greater degree of mobility – will require the implementation of a proper UC environment. This will be a further driver of UC adoption.

Going forward, UC will progress to communications-enabled business processes, rather than be only a set of integrated multiple services. This will make UC considerably more useful as a set of business tools and is expected to result in faster uptake of UC services by business users.

Unified Communications Market Outlook

In the future, specialisation is likely to emerge, with strong players “dominating” each of the different UC system components – network, platform, front-end applications and back-end applications. This will result in a greater need for standardisation, collaboration and the ability to integrate different systems.
Total revenue for the SA UC market (excluding IP telephony revenue) is expected to reach R4.1 billion by the end of 2020, at which time over 80% of the revenue is expected to be generated through cloud-based UC services.

South African Unified Communications Market Study, 2015
This post is drawn from a study of the South Africa Unified Communications market undertaken by Africa Analysis.