Enterprise digital transformation is creating growth opportunities for IT managed communications service providers, according to a recent report from Frost & Sullivan.

Organizations are moving away from traditional business models toward digital solutions, and there’s a strong market for trusted managed customer premises equipment (CPE) services partners to run day-to-day IT infrastructure operations. However, with the gradual shift of IT to the cloud, providers of hosted Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solutions are rapidly “stealing the march” from managed CPE service providers, the firm said.

The market for managed unified communications services will continue to grow from 2017 to 2021. Managed service providers are responsible for managing complex and continuously evolving technology environments, the report said, delivering consistent quality of service, more economical scalability and convenient vendor and telecom carrier management.

“IT decision makers will be keen to partner with a service provider with a comprehensive product and service portfolio comprising solutions that may be needed in future, and solutions that can help future-proof existing investments,” said Elka Popova, Frost & Sullivan digital transformation program director. “Businesses should look for a provider with extensive IP data networking and real-time communications skills as well as familiarity with products from a variety of vendors.”

The top priority for businesses is to collaborate with a managed service provider with the right technology expertise, the firm noted, but they also put considerable emphasis on scale, breadth of services, price and service level agreements (SLAs). Service provider attributes such as geographic reach, customer service and support, ability to balance consistency and standardization with flexibility and a customized approach will also greatly influence customers’ purchase decisions.