DWS Festive Market: Looking ahead to 2021

At Digital Wholesale Solutions, we are looking forward to what the next year is going to bring. With mega market trends and developments happening across the industry, including the further expansion of the FTTP network, increased 5G capabilities and the rapid growth in agile working, we expect 2021 to be an exciting year for the Channel.The past year has presented a lot of challenges across every industry. Still, we have been proud to a part of the ICT Channel, supporting partners who have kept the country working, providing businesses with the technology they need to stay connected, no matter what.

Working from Anywhere

As the country emerges from the COVID restrictions, businesses will start to deploy a slow return to offices, but the Working from Anywhere trend isn’t going away. The past year has brought to the forefront the benefits of enhanced communication and collaboration solutions, enabling business to be conducted effectively from almost anywhere. Workers are no longer confined to offices, desks or being onsite, and we predict a flexible approach to working to become the norm, with great technology and connectivity at the core. Virtual events and video conferencing, combined with hot-desking, will be an approach adopted by many and the option to work from home, the office or anywhere else.

Technology is a key driver for remote working, and we have seen an unprecedented uptake in applications such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, bringing people together while working from home or on the move.

Unified Communications and Collaboration

Teams Direct Routing is on the rise, and the market opportunity is only growing. With over 115 million Teams users reported in November 2020, CPs and resellers are set to see huge growth in Direct Routing products such as our own SIP2teams, enabling users to dial in and out of the PSTN from Teams. Bringing all communications into one application will transform the way business is done, helping improve productivity and efficiency for all types of business.

We expect to see even more opportunities for partners to venture into new product lines and revenue streams with the convergence of traditional telephony and mobile services. For example, our award-winning Hosted Voice solution gives the end customer the option to use an Office UC Desktop App or Mobile App, meaning they have the platform to stay connected whilst maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

As the dust settles from a tumultuous 2020, these UC solutions will continue to play a huge role in businesses, with an expected uptake in new products providing additional functionality alongside these solutions.

The Great Switch Off

While the UC space continues to thrive, the traditional connectivity arena is going through the biggest change in a generation. Openreach is making progress on their PSTN and ISDN withdrawal programme; in December 2020, the first Stop Sell came into place for the Salisbury exchange, and we can expect to see more activity over the next 12 months.

In May, the second Stop Sell is set to go live, at the Mildenhall exchange, with Openreach using this as a WLR closure trial. These two trials will provide Openreach with vital information on how the switch off will work when rolled out across the country, looking at the growing availability of full fibre, the transition to FTTP and the withdrawal of WLR services.

The approaching 2025 deadline increases the urgency to move to Single Order broadband while also fuelling the need for IP telephony, reflecting the shift to a connectivity-led communications approach for businesses and consumers alike. Digital Wholesale Solutions was one the first to offer SOGEA within the Channel. The launch out to the partners in August 2020 received record levels of enquiries and orders for a new product, a trend which continues to this day.

Our focus in 2021 will remain with SOGEA, but also the continued expansion of the fibre network. As it stands, FTTP broadband is currently available to approximately 3.2 million premises in the UK, but that is expected to reach 4.5 million in the next three months. With more providers beginning to embrace FTTP broadband and more businesses looking to upgrade and future-proof their connectivity, the full fibre opportunity will be huge over the next 12 months, which is why we are advising our partners to get in on the ground floor and seize their share of the market sooner rather than later.

With speeds of up to 1Gbps, FTTP is more than capable of supporting a quality VoIP connection, presenting great sales opportunities for resellers to bundle voice and connectivity as they work to stake their claim in the evolving market.

Cloud and Software Marketplace

The changing landscape of connectivity also presents huge opportunities for our partners within the Cloud marketplace. In November 2020, we acquired Cloud solutions provider, Giacom, a strategic acquisition enabling us to embrace Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and support our partners as they navigate the convergence of IT and comms.

Our CEO, Terry O’Brien, has big plans for DWS and Giacom as we help our partners move into the Cloud and software marketplace, while existing Giacom partners can enter the comms sphere and take advantage of new UC&C opportunities. This move will be a massive benefit to DWS partners, as we are able to offer complementary products and skill sets, bringing new opportunities in Microsoft 365, Azure and security, among others.

Mobile and 5G

Within the mobile landscape, we will see continued growth in coverage and end customer demand for 5G. We witnessed a surge in demand in September 2020 with the launch of the Apple iPhone 12, following in the footsteps of 5G compatible devices from Samsung and Huawei. The major mobile networks have all made 5G connectivity available at the core of their business propositions, and we have seen increased demand for unlimited data and MBB. The true potential of 5G, however, is further down the road, with a range of benefits to business connectivity and collaboration. As the IoT evolves, the vastly increased speeds, lower latency and greater capacity of 5G will become even more significant.

Hardware and TaaS

In 2021, we are excited to launch TechStore, our flagship hardware procurement site, exclusive to Digital Wholesale Solutions partners. TechStore will give partners access to over 150,000 products from over 100 tech brands with pricing, availability and shipping sourced directly from the UK’s biggest hardware distributors.

What makes TechStore such a game-changer, however, is the opportunity to embrace Tech-as-a-Service (TaaS). TechStore will see partners being able to sell hardware on a monthly subscription, taking away the need for large CapEx for end customers.

Over the next 12 months, partners can expect to see Digital Wholesale Solutions continue to evolve and quickly adapt to changing market conditions. We aim to be the first to market for product innovation, and continue to invest in new tools and resources to make it easier for our partners to do business in this complicated industry.

While 2020 has proved that you don’t always know what’s right around the corner, we can promise our partners that DWS will continue to grow, offering more opportunities, new products and hands-on support to help you make 2021 a successful year.

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