Elka Popova - Analyst Profile

Program Director
Frost & Sullivan
Information & Communication Technologies


Functional Expertise

12 years of market analysis and strategic consulting expertise with a focus on enterprise communications and next-generation technologies. Particular expertise in:

-Market and competitive intelligence
-Market forecasting
-Trend analysis and strategic insight
-Strategy development and client growth consulting
Industry Expertise
Experience base covering a broad range of industry sectors, leveraging long-standing working relationships with leading industry participants’ Senior Executives. Areas of focus include:
-Enterprise telephony and messaging
-Unified communications and collaboration
-Hosted/cloud-based communications and SaaS
-SIP trunking and VoIP access services
What I bring to the Team
  • Extensive knowledge of various enterprise communications technologies and markets
  • The ability to leverage a broad set of qualitative and quantitative analytical tools to develop comprehensive and in-depth market, product and competitive analyses
  • Strong management and interpersonal skills based on 7 years of team leadership and over 15 years of extensive client interactions and project management

Career Highlights

Before Frost & Sullivan, market research and competitive intelligence roles at, Platinum Technology and the Bulgarian-American Enterprise Fund.
  • Master of International Management from Thunderbird, School of Global Management, Glendale, AZ, U.S.A.
  • Master of English and American Literature and Linguistics from KlimentOhridsky University, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Master of Financial Management from National University of Business Administration and Economics, Sofia, Bulgaria

Areas of expertise

Recent items from Elka Popova

Tracking UCaaS Perceptions and Provider Selection Criteria in the U.S. Market
Forward-thinking businesses increasingly evaluate advanced cloud communications and collaboration solutions, including hosted IP telephony and unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), as part of their digital transformation initiatives. However, other priorities such as security and network reliability often supersede communications upgrade projects. Service providers face different challenges in their pursuit of UCaaS revenue growth and market share gains. Provider repositioning and strategy realignment are likely to determine the industry’s evolution and growth trajectory over the next few years. In addition to growing customer interest in moving communications to the cloud, UCaaS adoption will be highly impacted by the availability of strong market participants with visionary strategies, broad geographic presence, solid financial performance and affordable, feature-rich solutions. Common service provider success factors in the UCaaS market include speed of innovation, service reliability, efficient provisioning and billing systems, attention to customer needs and effective customer support, market reach (geographic footprint, channel network) and financial stability. Frost & Sullivan conducted an online survey of 184 US UCaaS decision makers and influencers in the March-April 2018 time period. The purpose of the survey was to gain a perspective from UCaaS stakeholders on the adoption and effectiveness of UCaaS solutions, as well as the provider success factors in the U.S. UCaaS market. More specifically, the survey aimed to identify the following: • What factors drive and restrain UCaaS adoption • How extensive the UCaaS deployment within the organization is today and how it will change within the next two years • Which UCaaS features decision makers find most valuable for their business or organization • How successful the UCaaS deployment has been and what actual benefits it has delivered to the organization • What prices businesses are paying for their UCaaS solutions and whether they consider them fair • How businesses prefer to purchase their UCaaS solutions (e.g., bundles vs a-la-carte features/services) • Which UCaaS providers decision makers are most familiar with, which ones they are using and which ones they perceive as best-in-class • Whether they plan to switch UCaaS providers, what are the primary factors to switch, and which providers they plan to switch to This study provides an analysis of the survey findings.
Published: Jun 29 2018 Other
Evaluating Microsoft’s Impact on the Enterprise Communications Ecosystem
For over a decade Microsoft has made concerted efforts to establish itself as a major provider of real-time business communications solutions, including enterprise voice and unified communications (UC) services. After gaining a considerable share in the premises-based communications systems market, Microsoft now aspires to capitalize on growing customer adoption of cloud solutions, in general, and hosted/cloud private branch exchange (PBX) and UC as a service (UCaaS), in particular. Microsoft’s extensive technology acumen and market power make it a formidable force in the business communications and productivity tools space, compelling competitors to keep a close eye on its product roadmap and go-to-market strategy. Therefore, Microsoft’s frequent changes in strategic direction, including the recent transition from Skype for Business Online to Teams and strong push for Microsoft Phone System (formerly Cloud PBX), have caused simultaneously excitement, concern and confusion among businesses, technology developers, resellers, service providers and other market participants. Frost & Sullivan believes that Teams and Phone System can significantly enhance Microsoft’s competitive position in the cloud communications market, if certain conditions are met. Overall, Microsoft Teams and Phone System are likely to experience rapid growth in the next six to seven years. Recent and pending solution enhancements will reinforce Microsoft’s competitive position and enable it to accelerate customer acquisition in the future. Microsoft’s determined foray into the cloud communications space, accompanied by frequent technology and strategic shifts, is likely to affect other market participants in various ways: • Provide more options for businesses looking to adopt compelling cloud communications solutions, but also cause confusion and hesitation to move forward with solution upgrades and replacements. • Create certain integration/interoperability challenges, but also offer growth opportunities for partners delivering solutions (e.g., infrastructure, endpoints, software) that complement Microsoft’s products and services. • Delay sales, but also expand product and services opportunities for resellers as well as implementation, professional and managed services partners. • Pose an immediate competitive threat (including price pressures, customer churn or delayed decision making) to other hosted cloud communications providers, but also help accelerate competitor innovation and compel providers to more effectively differentiate via solution functionality, service quality and reliability, and customer service and support. Market participants must watch Microsoft’s strategy and cloud solutions roadmap closely to respond quickly and effectively to changes that can potentially have a significant impact on their business. This study provides an overview of Microsoft’s position in the business communications market, including estimated installed user base and other metrics. It also discusses recent and upcoming enhancements of Microsoft cloud communications solutions, including Microsoft Skype for Business, Teams and Phone System. Finally, this study analyses the impact of Microsoft’s cloud communications portfolio and strategy on the enterprise communications ecosystem.
Published: May 22 2018 Other
An Overview of CCaaS Announcements Surrounding Enterprise Connect 2018
The powerful benefits of cloud architectures–more flexible capacity adjustment, more cost-effective support of remote agents and faster access to advanced features—have resulted in high growth rates in the cloud contact center market. Market revenue in North America for hosted/cloud contact center solutions surpassed on-premises product revenue in 2012, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7 percent from 2016 to 2021. Many businesses moving their communications, customer care and other software workloads to the cloud look for providers that can offer a one-stop shop for a broader scope of their needs. An integrated set of cloud communications and contact center solutions from a single provider delivers operational efficiencies and helps ensure greater usability. More specifically, businesses can reduce vendor management costs, ensure tighter interoperability and integration among different tools, and better synchronize technology upgrade cycles. An upcoming Frost & Sullivan study also finds that deploying UC technologies in contact center environments enables greater collaboration among agents and solution experts among the broader workforce. Empowering the entire organization to participate in customer care can deliver superior customer service and facilitate organizational agility.
Published: Apr 12 2018 Other
Enabling Digital Transformation with the Right UCaaS Solution
Digital technologies are profoundly transforming the way businesses operate and create customer value. Mobility, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), unified communications (UC) and collaboration, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced connectivity and other technologies are enabling operational efficiencies, greater employee productivity and competitive differentiation in all industries and business segments. Frost & Sullivan customer surveys show there also exists a strong correlation between digital technology adoption and high revenue growth rates. However, the proliferation of advanced technologies is raising business communications and IT infrastructure costs and complexity, which creates challenges for IT/telecom staff. Routine management of increasingly sophisticated technology environments often prevents IT/telecom staff from focusing on important tasks—such as aligning technology investments with broader business objectives and optimizing key workflows. To achieve desired performance outcomes many businesses are moving their software workloads to the cloud to re-assign internal resources to more strategic projects, gain operational agility and become more responsive to evolving customer requirements. A growing number of businesses are acknowledging the considerable benefits of cloud communications and are adopting hosted IP telephony and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solutions. Frost & Sullivan research shows that most businesses choose cloud communications to gain greater flexibility at times of rapid growth or downsizing, as well as to access advanced features and capabilities. However, different businesses also face unique challenges and pursue varying objectives when moving their communications to the cloud. Business size and industry vertical often determine the priorities in a cloud migration strategy. Frost & Sullivan finds that UCaaS solutions offer most businesses a broad spectrum of benefits in three key areas, as follows: • cost optimization and risk mitigation • operational efficiency and agility • enhanced customer value Choosing a hosted IP telephony and UCaaS provider is an important decision that must be based on a robust evaluation methodology. UCaaS deployment success requires careful assessment of existing provider offerings to select the best fit for businesses’ specific needs. This Buyers’ Guide offers detailed profiles of 22 leading North American hosted IP telephony and UCaaS providers to help businesses make smart investments in cloud communications solutions. The provider profiles include valuable company and solution portfolio information to assist businesses in their strategic decision making. Businesses should compare providers on 10 key selection criteria, as well as any highly specific requirements that may be relevant to their particular circumstances. Sustainable, long-term UCaaS investments deliver superior value and can greatly enhance broader digital transformation initiatives.
Published: Jan 31 2018 Other
Strategic Implications for Star2Star, Blueface, Channel Partners and UCaaS Competitors
On January 3rd, 2017, Sarasota, FL-based Star2Star Communications merged with Dublin, Ireland-based Blueface to form an entity with a market value estimated at $500 million (representing a multiple of current revenues). The new entity’s legal name will be StarBlue; however, the two companies will continue to operate under their original brands in their respective domestic regions—i.e., Blueface in EMEA and Star2Star in North America. StarBlue will have a combined employee count of more than 500 with Star2Star bringing in more than 300, and Blueface accounting for the rest. Blueface CEO Alan Foy will become the CEO of Star2Star and StarBlue. Star2Star CEO Norman Worthington will become executive chairman of Star2Star. Nameer Kazzaz, currently CTO at Blueface, will assume the Group Co-CTO role for the merged company with Star2Star CTO Sergey Galchenko. Star2Star President and Chief Revenue Officer Michelle Accardi and Star2Star CMO David Portnowitz will continue to perform their respective functions for the entire group.
Published: Jan 25 2018 Other
Strategic Implications for Cisco, Technology Partners, Service Providers, Platform Vendors and End Customers
On October 23rd, 2017, BroadSoft announced its impending acquisition by Cisco, which marked the unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) industry’s crossing of the Rubicon. With its inception in 1998, BroadSoft heralded the rise of cloud/hosted services and, for almost two decades, symbolized the next generation of business communications, standing tall against the “establishment” embodied by Avaya, Cisco and the other private branch exchange (PBX) vendors. As new cloud providers emerged, occasionally referring to BroadSoft as a provider of “legacy” hosted technology, BroadSoft stuck to its guns as an independent telco carrier enabler, avoiding direct competition with its channel. With this acquisition, BroadSoft surrendered its independent status to the powerhouse of the old guard Cisco and ended an era that forever changed the enterprise communications space. At the same time, BroadSoft’s acquisition by none other than the leading premises-based UC platform vendor provides strong validation of the industry’s move to cloud. It’s important to examine how this acquisition, if successfully completed, will affect the different stakeholders. This analysis focuses on the acquisition’s impact on Cisco, endpoint and technology partners, UCaaS providers, UCaaS platform vendors and end customers. Intensifying competition is posing challenges to everyone in the ecosystem—including pure-play telco platform vendors such as BroadSoft, Centile, Metaswitch and netsapiens; traditional telcos such as AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon; cable operators such as Comcast and Spectrum; next-generation UCaaS providers such as 8x8, Fuze, Jive Communications, Nextiva, RingCentral, Star2Star and Vonage; and more diversified UC providers straddling the premises-based and cloud worlds such as Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, Cisco, Microsoft, Mitel, NEC and Unify. In an effort to adapt to evolving market trends and become more competitive, some of these participants are reaching far outside their comfort zones and launching new solutions and strategies that require significant asset and skillset re-alignment. Particularly notable are Cisco, Microsoft and Mitel’s concerted efforts over the past few years to shift their businesses toward a more cloud-centric portfolio and market position. Premises-based UC system vendors are looking to the cloud as an opportunity to differentiate, generate new revenue streams and deliver greater value to their installed customers. Some vendors have been slower to successfully address this challenge, thus adopting a defensive stance, whereas others have pursued it more aggressively as a growth opportunity. Vendor market approaches also differ in terms of their role in the hosted IP telephony and UCaaS value chain. Some UC vendors have become service providers delivering services under their own brand, while others have chosen to deliver hosted communications solutions through service provider partners. As third-party platform providers, UC vendors compete against more established service provider platform developers such as BroadSoft, which compels them to develop unique value propositions for both service providers and end customers. Accelerating merger and acquisition activity in the UCaaS space demonstrates a growing provider need for faster speed to market and greater market power. Cisco’s acquisition of BroadSoft is an important part of ongoing market consolidation that is likely to affect various stakeholders. In one broad swipe, Cisco filled a gap in its portfolio, dramatically expanded its share in the rapidly growing UCaaS market, created more opportunities to sell its communications endpoints, entered the SIP trunking and residential VoIP space, and eliminated a formidable competitor. Should the acquisition complete successfully, it will be well worth Cisco’s $1.9 billion investment. Changes are likely to take place; most will be for the better, but some may pose challenges to the BroadSoft ecosystem. Like most other acquisitions, the Cisco-BroadSoft deal could be viewed as a sacrifice of competitive options for the benefit of a stronger UCaaS market growing forward. Also, further M&A activity is likely to ensue and company valuations are likely to be impacted by how this deal was priced.
Published: Nov 14 2017 Other
Providers Reposition and Realign Strategies to Ensure Long-term Success
Forward-thinking businesses increasingly evaluate advanced communications and collaboration solutions as part of their digital transformation initiatives. However, other priorities such as security, network reliability, cloud migration and Internet of Things (IoT) often supersede communications upgrade projects. Growing customer demand for more flexible technology consumption models to support digital transformation projects represents a key growth driver. Premises-based communications solutions reaching end of life and increasing availability of compelling UCaaS offerings are also encouraging the move to cloud communications. Service providers face different challenges in their pursuit of UCaaS revenue growth and market share gains. Rapid technology advancements and competitive dynamics create sense of uncertainty and delay investment/upgrade decisions. Premises-based solutions are often favored for security, control and customization/integration reasons. Provider repositioning and strategy realignment are likely to determine the industry’s evolution and growth trajectory over the next few years. M&A, bankruptcy protection, internal reorganization, international expansion, as well as solution repackaging will aim to improve industry health and boost customer confidence in service and company long-term viability. In addition to growing customer interest in moving communications to the cloud, UCaaS adoption will be highly impacted by the availability of strong market participants with visionary strategies, broad geographic presence, solid financial performance and affordable, feature-rich solutions. Market growth over the forecast period will be driven by both existing provider new user acquisition as well as the entry of new service providers and/or launch of new UCaaS solutions. Key growth opportunities in the UCaaS market exist in the following areas: • UCaaS enhancements (e.g., contact center, advanced collaboration, analytics, native mobility) • Broader portfolio diversification (e.g., SD WAN, communications platform as a service (CPaaS), adoption and other value-added services) • Improved end-user and IT admin experience (e.g., portal, messaging-centric user interface, greater service quality and reliability, free trials) • Tailored solutions (e.g., verticals, micro-business, mid-market and enterprise) • Greater market reach (e.g., channel expansion, international presence, digital engagement) While more “traditional” UCaaS solutions will continue to experience rapid adoption, the industry will begin to gradually transform under the impact of both internal and external forces. The emergence of “productivity UC”, “vertical UC”, “IoT UC” and other forms of embedded communications is likely to disrupt provider business models, solution prices, customer use cases and other market dynamics. As communications vendors provide open application programming interfaces (APIs) and as CPaaS offerings gain traction, businesses will have more options for deploying communications and collaboration functionality from both traditional communications providers and new market entrants with software as a service (SaaS), cloud or other backgrounds.
Published: Sep 21 2017 Market Research
ISDN Decommissioning to Accelerate Cloud Communications Adoption
The European hosted Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market continues on a strong growth trajectory that is creating value for businesses and growth opportunities for service providers. European telecom carrier initiatives to discontinue Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) services are driving carrier and customer migration to IP connectivity services as well as adoption of next-generation business communication solutions such as hosted private branch exchange (PBX) and UCaaS. Other growth drivers in this market include: increasing supply of compelling hosted IP telephony and UCaaS offerings, expanding feature sets, and growing acceptance of cloud communications among the reseller channel. This market study provides a detailed discussion of market drivers and restraints, user and revenue forecasts, market share analysis and competitor assessment. It also identifies key growth opportunities in the European hosted IP telephony and UCaaS market. This study can help technology vendors, service providers and resellers develop compelling UCaaS solutions portfolios and effective market strategies.
Published: Mar 01 2017 Market Research
Cloud Communications Solutions Evolve to Align with an API Economy
The North American hosted Internet protocol (IP) telephony and unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) market is approaching mass adoption in the small and medium-size business (SMB) segment and experiencing accelerated growth in the mid-market and large-enterprise segments. Businesses are undergoing profound transformation as they adopt advanced information technologies (IT) and innovative communications solutions to improve worker productivity, business agility and overall competitive positioning. To address new market challenges, businesses must embrace new technology consumption models and engage with trusted technology providers. This creates considerable opportunities for service providers and vendors to diversify their portfolio, generate new revenues, differentiate from the competition and sustain profitable growth in the future.
Published: Nov 03 2016 Market Research
Leveraging Third-party Expertise and Resources for Better Communications Asset Management
Businesses are increasingly seeking to outsource various information technology (IT) tasks as well as end-to-end IT infrastructure management in order to improve operational efficiencies, leverage a partner’s stronger technology expertise, and gain a competitive edge. Managed customer premises equipment (CPE) services, including managed Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions, deliver compelling value to businesses looking to delegate day-to-day infrastructure management tasks to a trusted partner so they can focus on more strategic projects. This Buyers’ Guide provides an overview of several managed premises-based IP telephony and UCC services providers and solutions. Due to the diverse and fragmented nature of the North American managed premises-based IP telephony and UCC services market, Frost & Sullivan has selected leading providers in key market participant groups, including IP telephony and UCC solution vendors, telecommunications carriers, value-added resellers and systems integrators, as well as specialized managed services providers. In addition to merit, the providers were selected based on their willingness to participate in this research.
Published: May 30 2016 Outlook
Both ShoreTel and Interactive Intelligence reported their CY Q4 results this week and both have a lot to brag about, especially compared to some of the larger vendors in the enterprise communications space. ShoreTel reported 9% y/y growth in premises revenues and 27% y/y growth in hosted IP telephony revenues. Some other success metrics included s...
31 Jan 2014 Blog post
Today, November 11th, 2013, Mitel and Aastra announced plans to merge. Details of the transaction are available in this press release. Here are some of the highlights: Aastra shareholders receive 3.6 Mitel shares and US$6.52 in cash for every Aastra share. The cash and stock transaction has been valued on closing at approximately CAD$392M. Usi...
11 Nov 2013 Blog post
On July 16th, Siemens Enterprise Communications (SEN) announced Project Ansible—SEN’s vision and technology evolution roadmap for the future of enterprise communications. My colleague Mike Brandenburg who attended Siemens Enterprise Communications’ analyst event already wrote about this initiative in as much detail as he was allowed to provide at t...
16 Jul 2013 Blog post
Social networks and social media have rapidly become a key element of our daily interactions with family, friends, and business associates. Capitalizing on the ubiquity and improving quality of the public Internet, growing computer and Internet literacy among younger generations, and demand for maintaining relationships in an increasingly dynamic s...
28 May 2013 Blog post
Aastra hosted its annual Aastra Analyst Conference last week (May 8 through May 10) which provided analysts with an update on the vendor’s portfolio roadmap and strategy for the global communications market. Not surprising, its research and development (R&D) efforts are focused on mobility, video, cloud/hosted, and social media for the contact cent...
14 May 2013 Blog post
It’s been a week since I came back from Enterprise Connect in Orlando and I finally found the time to sit down and share my thoughts on some of the key announcements made at the event. Better late than never, right? I may be biased because of my personal interest in cloud/hosted communications, but it seemed that there was a lot of buzz around clo...
28 Mar 2013 Blog post
Today, March 18th, 2013, at Enterprise Connect, Avaya introduced several new offerings as part of its Avaya Collaborative Cloud portfolio. The announcements included cloud video conferencing, a managed private contact center solution, and a cloud unified communications (UC) and customer experience solution. In this article I’d like to provide my pe...
18 Mar 2013 Blog post
Today, Vidtel, an innovative cloud video telephony and video conferencing provider, announced interoperability of its MeetMe and Gateway services with WebRTC video endpoints. This announcement is significant both for the entrepreneurial provider and the industry as a whole. Vidtel can now serve a new customer segment that is bound to grow exponenti...
30 Jan 2013 Blog post
In a previous blog post, I talked about the role of social media in creating new beliefs and behavioral patterns. Here I’d like to talk about how social media is making our world flatter and what that means for individuals and society. The “flattening of the world” refers to the gradual disappearing of geographic limitations and the leveling of th...
21 Jan 2013 Blog post
In a previous blog post, I talked about the role of social media in creating new beliefs and behavioral patterns. Here I’d like to talk about how social media is making our world flatter and what that means for individuals and society. The “flattening of the world” refers to the gradual disappearing of geographic limitations and the leveling of th...
21 Jan 2013 Blog post
As I busily shared greetings, thoughts, and photos on Facebook during the holiday season, I decided to write a post about the impact of social media and social networking on our lives today. Then I remembered an article I had posted about three years ago on a site that no longer exists. I searched for the draft on my computer and, as I read it, I f...
02 Jan 2013 Blog post
Have you ever wondered what a CIO’s letter to Santa might look like? In a previous post, I shared the key findings of two recent Frost & Sullivan studies that surveyed the opinions of North American C-level executives and senior IT staff on unified communications & collaboration (UCC) tools adoption and investment plans. Based on these findings an...
09 Dec 2012 Blog post
As the new year approaches, we are all trying to predict what it will be like for the unified communications and collaboration (UCC) market and the information and communications (ICT) industry as a whole. We wish to know what tools and technologies will best resonate with end users and what decision-makers who hold the company budget will choose t...
30 Nov 2012 Blog post
  Maybe not the smartest, but certainly VERY smart! Headsets have come a long way since the early days when they were just dumb peripherals with no intelligence of their own. Even those simpler headsets gave the user comfort and flexibility and the benefit of noise cancellation. In fact, I am using one of those now, mostly because of its simplici...
15 Nov 2012 Blog post
Frost & Sullivan recently conducted a survey of 263 North American IT decision makers including C-level executives and IT management. The survey explored awareness and usage of various unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools and applications, trends in communications devices, ICT infrastructure, and hosted and managed services, and bud...
08 Nov 2012 Blog post
Some of the most exciting technology topics today include social search, data mining, and, in general, big-data analytics. These technology trends can determine some very personal decisions (e.g., which restaurant to go to), but can also have a very powerful impact on broader investor decisions and financial markets. This article on Facebook and fr...
24 Sep 2012 Blog post

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