17th October 2016 by GCI

The hunt for productivity and collaboration

The GCI Team had an opportunity to meet and talk to a record number of partners and customers at Convergence Summit South; with a three-fold increase in visitors to our stands. Now we’ve had a chance to catch our breath, let’s take a quick look back at the insights we gained from a stimulating two days.


We talked to partners of various sizes and specialisms but the consistent theme was one of searching out emerging market opportunities that will provide a deeper “stickier” relationship with clients and provide a source of competitive advantage for partner and customer alike.

For delegates looking to respond to the growing customer need to improve productivity and collaboration, we discussed Skype for Business. There seems to be a surprisingly small number of partners currently actively selling Microsoft’s leading unified communications solution in the channel. But we continue to be strong advocates of the opportunity it presents; given that we’ve already deployed over 120,000 seats and don’t expect this momentum to drop any time soon.

The Rise of Skype for Business

Microsoft can draw upon incredibly high brand awareness with over 100 million meetings per month using Skype services and 39% of long distance international calls are made through Skype. To add to that, research sources are now predicting that unified communications will have achieved 100% market penetration by 2020.

The ubiquity of WiFi

The always on generation expect to access full broadband connectivity wherever they may be. More WiFi hotspots, changing user expectations and the drive to capture deeper consumer insights make high quality and rapidly deployed public access WiFi a “must have” for many businesses, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors.

The “burning platform” is reinforced by the knowledge that research shows that 27% of consumers think twice about returning to a business that does not live up to their WiFi expectations. A further opportunity lies in the growing “pop up” retail market that now has over 10,000 outlets with a market value of £2.1 million and growth of 2.5 times that of traditional retail.

So another great market opportunity for the fleet of foot channel partner with access to the optimum solution.

The Right Cloud

Similarly, delegates from forward-thinking partners were looking to define the right cloud solutions and migration strategies. We were consistently hearing a wish to take advantage of public cloud but also answering questions about how best to deploy hybrid cloud solutions.

Time and again, Microsoft Azure was the solution they were looking for with access to virtual machines hosted on Microsoft’s public cloud but with the option to effectively create a hybrid cloud platform across on premise, public and private cloud, tailored to the changing needs of the partners’ customers.

SMS blows other forms of marketing out of the water

SMS messaging has already established itself as one of the most effective marketing tools available today with up to 98% read-rates and up to 8x greater engagement than email. This isn’t an unknown channel, but one that hasn’t been capitalised on.

GCI has invested in optimising the cost and increasing the effectiveness of this highly effective marketing channel with our recent acquisition of Packet Media – and we’re pleased to see that word is spreading. As 76% of Britons now own a smartphone and 86% use SMS on a weekly basis, isn’t it about time that we evangelise about it to our customers and create another opportunity to offer true Omni-channel unified communications.

PCI is moving into the forefront of people’s minds

Payment card legislation is changing – and people are starting to take notice. From 25 May 2018, any organisation processing or storing credit card data will need to adhere to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation.

This new directive will see credit card data become recognised as Personally Identifiable Information. Breaches can lead to fines of four per cent of global turnover and legal prosecution. This won’t be the first time you’ve heard this, and it likely won’t be the last. But having talked to delegates face-to-face, it’s encouraging to see companies are now taking notice.

The common misconception seems to be the size of businesses involved. But PCI compliance doesn’t just apply to large businesses, if you transmit or store sensitive cardholder data, you must be compliant. When the average cost of a data breach is £2.8m, ignoring PCI is no longer an option. This is another great and immediate opportunity for our channel partners.


It was fantastic for the whole GCI team to meet so many friends and partners both old and new, and have the chance to discuss the wealth of opportunities and learn as well as share.

If you attended the event but didn’t to speak to us or have now had a chance to reflect further on the emerging market opportunities then please do contact us via


Mark Whitehead

Director of Channel Sales