Challenges such as decreased investment capital, the lack of seamless interoperability and a slowing trend of outsourcing conferencing services will likely be countered by a need to connect with people quickly, efficiently and on-demand, as well as the need to significantly reduce travel expenses.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (conferencing.frost.com) Western European Conferencing Services Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $1.12 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach $2.31 billion in 2014. The following technologies are covered in this research: audio, video and web conferencing.
"The more mature markets of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom (GFU), the Nordic countries, and the Benelux region are likely to continue exhibiting strong, overall demand for audio and web conferencing," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Iwona Petruczynik. "The markets in Rest of Western Europe (RWE) and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) are poised to claim an expanding share of the overall market in revenue terms, creating growth opportunities for service providers, who are looking at expansion opportunities."
The need to stay in touch with employees scattered around the country, or even the world is driving market growth. Enterprises are looking for rapid and efficient ways of connecting, without having to spend money on costly travel. This is providing a fillip to the adoption of conferencing services.
The ongoing development of audio, web and video conferencing services in Western Europe mirrors many of the trends observed in North America. However, like the Asia Pacific, Europe cannot be treated as a single, homogenous market.
"Five distinct 'market-regions' exhibit different characteristics, in terms of patterns of overall size, adoption rates and growth potential," notes Petruczynik. "Despite those differences, the market is expanding strongly with growth dictated by the increasing need to connect with a dispersed workforce at a time of rising oil prices and financial turmoil."
In spite of optimistic growth forecasts, the conferencing services market in Western Europe is faced with several challenges, most significant of which are intensifying competition between service providers and decreased investments.
The financial crisis is delaying investments in the conferencing services market as businesses are now inclined to spend money on more pressing issues; limited operating expenditures (OPEX) is forcing companies to reduce spending on conferencing services, as maintaining them generally requires expensive professional support.
"The presence of telcos, independent providers, local conferencing companies, and large software companies in the conferencing services market is creating fierce competition among those who offer such services in Western Europe," remarks Petruczynik. "Range of service offerings, price, quality, and the redundancy of services are among the most important competitive factors."
The ongoing current credit crunch is compelling companies to cut costs in conferencing. The trend of gathering several people in one room to conduct a conference is gaining preference. This resultant reduction of several conferencing lines to just one is, accordingly, becoming a common practice among businesses.
"On-premise unified communications applications, cloud-based collaboration services, and endpoint capabilities like voice conferencing supported by a SIP phone will each have a profound impact on the conferencing services market over the long term," observes Petruczynik. "However, this impact is being delayed by both the global recession, and the slower than anticipated uptake of unified communications products and services."
Service providers entering the emerging markets in the RWE and CEE regions will need to be able to create an appropriate combination of global service platform and technologies with a sensitive approach to the needs of localisation. Investments in in-country sales and support and language capabilities will be critical even as companies need to recognise the realities of potentially very different attitudes to commercial agreements.
In some regions of Western Europe, the challenges facing service providers will become more intense as industry consolidation progresses and the competition for enterprise communications between IT participants and the providers of basic hosted services increases.
"Regardless of how a market region is developed, service providers should focus on a greater integration of the synchronous conferencing technologies of audio, web and video with asynchronous collaboration of workspaces, wikis, and shared databases," concludes Petruczynik. "Such rich collaboration will allow market participants to defend themselves against declining prices."
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Western European Conferencing Services Market / M306-64