Unified Communications (UC) has huge potential that won’t be realised until we all take a more single-minded approach to customer needs.
With so many UC flavours coming to market in the last few years, there’s bound to be some debate over what UC stands for and uncertainty over the user benefits.
Perceptions vary wildly: isn’t UC an early adopter technology for large companies?
Does UC deliver simplified voice and data network management? How is the UC vision applied to vastly different small businesses, enterprises and government departments?
UC delivers integrated and automated communications, making the smallest or the most complex businesses more responsive and saving them money.
However, the key difference in realising this market opportunity will be made by resellers working closely with UC vendors to support and differentiate their products.
Working together, they can meet customer needs in a sector with targeted products and by watching changing market conditions, spot new opportunities.
Vendors are helping resellers hit the spot for users with three critical
First, they don’t treat UC as a static product that their channel team walks away from once it’s launched. Effective channel teams provide exhaustive product briefings and training, regularly topped up with technical updates and refresher courses.
Second, smart vendors provide reseller training on refining their consulting skills for all customers, as well as ‘after-care’ training. No one respects a supplier big on promises that disappears when the tough questions come in.
Third, the best vendors are also working with reseller partners to build business strategies that get to heart of different sectors’ requirements. These focus on resolving users’ daily needs and crises.
Business opportunities open to end user organisations able to work smarter. Just a few examples show the way:
Carefully deployed UC platforms help small businesses streamline customer interactions and gain the edge over competitors. Small businesses represent 80 per cent of the economy, so this remains a huge opportunity.
UC is connecting office and mobile telephony to enable professional services firms to better manage customer demands and maximise staff utilisation – that’s critical where time is their raw material.
As public services move online, taxpayers expect a common response from telephone, email and even SMS. Even more strikingly, service teams that were once tied to depots and offices are being mobilised to deliver better community support and care.
UC also deals with the curse of uncontrolled call expenses; UC platforms ensure staff calls are made off Local Area Networks rather than the main mobile networks, delivering savings that could make the difference between business failure and survival.
Because of this problem-solving approach, vendors are finding that, even in the downturn, buying decisions aren’t frozen if resellers show end users a way to save money or transform productivity.
We believe that observing market needs and then matching systems to them, rather than tired ‘one size fits all,’ tactics is not only more realistic, it’s more motivational for valued resellers. It pays to be open minded.
Dave Dyer is channel marketing manager at Siemens Enterprise Communications
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