Resellers will this year find themselves looking on with trepidation as Microsoft decides to take on Avaya and Cisco on the unified communications (UC) battleground.
Financial constraints mean that only the biggest resellers are able to offer bespoke solutions from all vendors, and the investment in the training and accreditation of staff that goes with it.
In the ongoing battle between Microsoft, NEC, Cisco, Avaya and others, average-sized resellers must continue to offer applications that enhance customer business processes and are sufficiently compelling to be able to drive vendor migration.
It is not so much about backing a winner, but making sure resellers do not end up becoming the overall loser.
What resellers have – more so than any vendor – is a keen understanding of what enterprise customers are looking for. They know that more companies are inviting their staff to work flexibly in a bid to propel productivity and keep hold of key workers in difficult times.
They know that contact centres are automating the handling of repetitive and mundane queries, creating the resources to deliver better customer service. They also know that companies are looking at their communications infrastructure to see how they can consolidate – and there is a lot of choice.
There is also the small matter of figuring out how such UC and contact centre services are to work together with every other best-of-breed solution once it has been placed in the enterprise.
One thing is certain: customers do not care how the solutions work together, they just have to work.
Difficult times create opportunities. Right now that opportunity is to provide more added value, and much needed certainty of outcome, for enterprises that are caught in the marketing crossfire of the big three vendors.
Increasingly, that value is found in third-party applications that enhance the experience and efficiency of the rather generic, undifferentiated products delivered by the big three.
Not solely in the applications, but also in the professional services to design and configure enhanced solutions, be that for the desktop or the contact centre. Smart, value-added apps work across all the major vendor platforms.
So if the IT director insists he or she wants the new Microsoft, Avaya or Cisco UC platform to work seamlessly with everything else the firm has, resellers may suddenly realise that they hold the winning card.
Chris Harris is managing director of Zeacom
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