While the developing markets of southern, central and eastern Europe are new areas for potential expansion, they represent shifting risks, and the possibility that next generation network and enterprise-based collaboration applications will get there first.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (conferencing.frost.com), European Conferencing Services, finds that the market earned revenues of $880.6 million in 2007 and estimates this to reach $1.69 billion in 2013.
"The conferencing service industry in Europe has entered a critical stage of its development," notes Dominic Dodd, Principal Analyst for Enterprise Communications and Collaboration in the Frost & Sullivan ICT Practice, Europe. "It is facing an inevitable, if slow, migration from the current, separate and well-established 'point products and services' of audio, video and web towards the wide-scale adoption of the unified communications and collaboration solutions."
Convergence technologies in the network and the enterprise will increasingly challenge conferencing service providers at a time when there is downward pressure on the basic audio services, which remain the core business for many.
In parallel to these technology-led changes, the individual key market regions of Europe provide their own opportunities and challenges for services providers. The largest country markets of Germany, France and the United Kingdom are maturing fastest, while the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) offer expansion possibilities, but with risks attached.
"The development and deployment of converged communications technologies is already impacting all areas of the collaboration industry, from within next-generation networks, to enterprise infrastructure and the desktop," comments Dodd. "Customers are being faced with a number of alternative paths for reaching their goals of improved productivity, reduced costs and creating new forms of competitive advantage from strategic technology investments."
The expansion of the European Union to include a number of states that were previously part of the Soviet Bloc has created new, fast-moving market opportunities for both local start-up services and entry by global or European-based conferencing service providers. While estimated to represent only 0.9 per cent of total European revenue in 2007, the CEE region is forecast to grow to command 13.9 per cent by 2014.
While the developing markets in southern Europe – notably Spain - and in CEE offer service providers opportunities for expansion using their existing technologies and platforms, such moves are not without risks. Markets like Russia and Poland can present very different attitudes to openness of new business start-ups and understanding of commercial terms. While undoubtedly these emerging markets present interesting new opportunities for the conferencing services providers, the chosen mode of market entry needs very careful thought and planning to mitigate the many risk factors – obvious and otherwise.
The trend towards greater unification of communications and collaboration products and services around IP convergence may become viewed as a 'Curate's Egg' for service providers. The emergence of enterprise-based applications can threaten revenues while, equally, the confusing plethora of competing solutions may persuade some buyers to stay with 'point solutions' until things settle down, with others calling out for managed services now.
"Video conferencing services look set for something of a Renaissance, turning round the dwindling service revenues that have traditionally come from basic MCU and IP-ISDN conversion gateways," remarks Dodd. "The fantastic response to telepresence from the market is creating pull-through for high definition video conferencing and managed video services."
The expected general growth in the population of all types of visual communications endpoints will stimulate demand for new on-premise and multi-tenant managed and on-demand services capable of providing interoperability between pools of users in and outside the corporate firewall.
"Service providers are already attempting to meet the twin challenges of the lower prices they get for their core audio services and the emergence of newer alternative technologies, by seeking to add value by combining audio and web services," states Dodd. "They are finding ways to more closely match the service with the specific needs of their target verticals, or are moving away from standalone collaboration service to integration with business process applications."
If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview of the European conferencing services, then send an email to Joanna Lewandowska, Corporate Communications, at joanna.lewandowska[.]frost.com, with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company email address, company website, city, state and country. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be sent to you by email.
European Conferencing Services is part of the Conferencing & Collaboration Growth Partnership Service Programme, which also includes research in the following markets: web conferencing, audio conferencing, video conferencing, telepresence, unified communications and collaboration market. All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.
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