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The coronavirus pandemic caused widespread concern and economic hardship for consumers, businesses and communities across the globe. Companies found themselves quickly shifting to remote work and processes out of sheer necessity. For business environments in the Middle East and North Africa, and the people-intensive nature of its business environments, concerns about productivity, security and infrastructure risks are high. Then, as companies and businesses work to regain momentum, there are also concerns about sales pipelines and projections and ambiguous timelines. 

As a response, Mitel launched short-term and long-term strategies to address the needs in this region. Initiatives such as contact centers with remote working agent facilities, bundling mobility applications in our small and midsized enterprise offerings and helping customers create unified business communication platforms for organizations have given customers the tools necessary for navigating communications technology during this time. These solutions have helped customers maintain business continuity without adding significant costs to their core communication requirements.

As organizations continue responding to quickly changing communications needs, they must understand the opportunities and strategies necessary for navigating an evolving communication culture. Asif Khan, Mitel Channel Director for the Middle East & Africa, weighed in on what consumers need to know about this new landscape and how cloud communications offerings smooth the transition to a new normal.

New Communications Culture in the Middle East and North Africa

1. How do you see the emergence of cloud communications?

Cloud communications are becoming more prevalent, efficient and cost-effective. According to Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, the size of the public cloud computing market worldwide encompasses business processes, platforms, infrastructure, software, management, security and advertising services delivered by public cloud services. From 2009 to 2020, it has grown from $59 billion to $257.5 billion USD. The use of public cloud services offers a significant advantage of moving organizations from the capital expenditure (CapEx) model to the recurring expenditure (OpEx) model. This requires less cash upfront by utilizing cloud technology rather than scaling up on-premises data center capacity or acquiring traditional licensed software. 

The continued shift from on-premises license software to subscription-based SaaS models, in conjunction with the increased need for new software collaboration tools during COVID-19, drives growth in software as a service (SaaS). SaaS remains the largest market segment in cloud communications and is forecasted to grow to $101.5 billion in 2020.

2. Where do you see opportunities for video conferencing and team collaboration tools in the market?

In today’s business world, the demand for video communications has been booming. The global video conferencing market size is expected to reach $8.56 billion by 2027, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.9% from 2020 to 2027. The global team collaboration software market was valued at $9.5 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.7% from 2020 to 2027. The increasing need for visual data exchange and digitization is driving market growth. Organizations have started realizing the benefits of leveraging affordable video conferencing solutions, facilitating wide-scale team collaboration software adoption.  

The recent global health crisis caused a dramatic shift in the way people had to work, with government-imposed restrictions forcing organizations to send their employees home to work with little or no planning in the early part of the year. The initial focus on business continuity in an unprecedented time led to many businesses adopting a wide range of conferencing and team collaboration solutions to keep their employees collaborating and their companies operating. This has increased the demand for conferencing and team collaboration solutions to support remote and flexible working.

The virus outbreak also led to quarantine measures and restrictions on business travel in several countries, leading to a significant increase in the need for remote working and more flexible video conferencing and collaboration solutions. This is expected to result in an increase in conferencing revenues in 2020, as many organizations are forced to utilize such solutions for the first time. 

While the pandemic has indeed brought in sweeping changes everywhere, perhaps the most significant change has been in the area of IT spending. With COVID-19 having ushered in a new normal, spending has shifted from the traditional verticals we saw in 2019 to a few major ones like healthcare and education.

3. From your point of view, how are marketing strategies developing?

Today’s technology is moving quickly towards remote working, collaborative efforts and enhancing the online presence. The pandemic necessitated revolutionary changes in business approaches and technology offerings. A smooth and seamless virtual experience is the key to success. 

Marketing strategies are also getting aligned with a new normal. The pandemic has pushed our strategy towards digital, making things quicker and more comfortable. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and other channels play a more vital role than before as we use and build them up centrally and in core regions. Also, new formats like virtual events are being realized as pathways for hybrid formats.

Understanding the changing communications environment is essential for organizations looking to stay ahead of the curve. Building new strategies around collaboration, expenditure models and technology platforms will help ensure that consumers and partners are prepared for life after the pandemic and beyond.

Asif Khan, Channel Director for the Middle East & Africa at Mitel, has more than 20 years of experience in channel and distribution and is an expert in showing the market drivers for the evolution of team collaboration in current times.

For More From Industry Experts View The EBook On The Future Now Of Work: Supporting Thriving Business In Tumultuous Times >

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