Time for the data channel to add voice to the mix

With the technology shifting to the cloud and the days of expensive PBX boxes coming to an end the opportunities for the IT channel are expanding

The old lines between comms and data resellers have been eroding over the last decade but with technology moving to the cloud the opportunities for those that have never sold voice before have accelerated.

Data resellers are sitting in a strong position being able to both take advantage of products that have become simpler as well as having established links with the SME community, which has been quick to embrace the technology.

Some of the mega trends in the industry are becoming concentrated around voice provision with customers looking for greater levels of flexibility and mobility as part of larger digital transformation projects.

Myles Leach, managing director at cloud VoIP player NFON UK, said that the firm had seen its IT reseller base grow since appointing Westcoast a couple of years ago to work alongside Chess Telecom and ScanSource to widen its channel reach and was keen to increase the business with data player even further.

"It is important we are opening it up to a different market and the traditional telco resellers are changing and we will support them," he said that those fresh to voice did not have traditional hardware sales to defend.

Westcoast has been able to bring on board resellers that had never had any experience selling voice. "If you are missing telephony then you are missing out on the complete package. You have got to look at voice as a different business application," said Leach.

He added that the pressure for change was coming from the customer and they wanted more mobility and saw voice as a crucial part of the services mix.

"Things are changing and being accelerated by the market rather than people like me getting on the soap box," he said.

"Connectivity is so much better now but you can see the important of it if you lose the phone system for half an hour, it is business critical," he added.

Leach said that around 15% of the customer base had embraced cloud-based telco offerings, which left a significant number for the channel to still go after.

The SME market has been quick to adopt hosted unified comms offerings and Leach said that there was also strong interest from the public sector.

"They want to reduce office space and to allow people to work more remotely," he added that a lot of firms had started with Office 365 and now wanted to build on that experience in other areas, including voice.

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