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Channel evolution is critical to capitalising on the UC market

Russell Lux, CEO of TelcoSwitch, argues that the channel needs to adapt if it is to retain a share of the united comms market

Despite what is often seen as a complex market to define, unified communications (UC) is experiencing exhilarating growth and is quickly moving up many companies priorities list. According to research from Gartner UC is expected to see global spend top $40.1billion by 2019, as business of all shapes, sizes and industries get to grips with the benefits which can be derived from having an effective communications platform installed within their network.

While companies cite many reasons for deploying UC, the most common is a desire to improve employee collaboration. Thanks to UC, a person that needs a colleague’s input on a critical proposal can quickly find them and share the materials in time to meet a deadline. Similarly, remote teams, who may be located around the country or even around the world, can use conferencing capabilities to come to quick agreement on an initiative.

Encouraging this engagement also lies in the increasing number of communication tools now available for users – this includes supporting methods such as chat, video, file sharing, collaboration and conferencing, which are now being leveraged by existing on-site platforms, as well as new capabilities and applications made available via cloud services. To assist these advancements an effective sales strategy needs to be in place – for the channel this is likely to require a dramatic rethink, moving away from being totally priced focused, to now placing a greater emphasis on solution selling.

Traditionally, for the channel when it comes to selling communication capabilities it has relied on low touch sales, which have steadily been on the decline. Today, for organisations looking to purchase VoIP or UC services, they have a variety options. For those selling an on-premise solution, the channel model has historically been built around hardware purchasing and often a software license for the applications. With a hosted sale the business is subscribing to a service. Hardware might not be part of the deal so this is increasingly forcing the need for tighter relationships to be formed, especially in light of increased competition.

The result of this changing model is therefore presenting quite a challenge to the channel – as businesses move on from VoIP to UC, their needs are becoming much more complex, requiring direct involvement from the service providers and in turn a rethink as to how products and services are sold.

The complexity and availability of subscription based solutions and services, over that of price-driven, one off sales, means that a vendor/reseller relationship can no longer be bound by rigid partner models hindering their ability to meet the specific needs of the end user and that of sales targets. It is imperative therefore, that in light of this evolving landscape the stakeholders within the relationship evolve too, placing a heightened importance on building concise, clear and collaborative relationships that can play to the strengths of the individual partner and the customers it serves, all of which must be unrestricted by clunky, dated partner models.

The benefits of such an approach mean that both channel partners and vendors are completely synced to the requirements of the end user and the services they are delivering for them. Breaking down the traditional partner model and unnecessary red tape which often accompanies this approach means access can be provided to expert advice, resources and support. This in-turn can tap into the exact needs of the end user and dramatically improving the lines of communication, freeing up the opportunity to attract and grow exciting new revenue streams across the partner networks. By doing so, all stakeholders will be much better placed to reap the benefits of growing markets like that of UC.



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