Special Report: The Changing Tide of Technology Distribution

Exploring the evolution of distribution with Nuvias UC

Special Report: The Changing Tide of Technology Distribution
Steve Harris

Steve Harris, EVP for the Nuvias UC Practice, and MD of SIPHON Networks

The world of Telecoms has changed. That’s something we started to see more significantly in 2017, and something that we’ll continue to experience as we move through 2018. Today’s UC reseller needs a new kind of distributor if they want to access the versatility and scalability that unified communications can provide.

Nuvias is one of the incredible companies contributing to the evolution of UC distribution, with a solutions-led, and adaptable approach to the industry. They believe that by 2020, they will have redefined the concept of “value distribution” in the technology channel, by delivering solutions and services that truly give customers the unique business strategies they need.

To better understand how the distribution network has evolved over the recent years, I caught up with Steve Harris, EVP for the Nuvias UC Practice, and MD of SIPHON Networks.

Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself

To start with, I asked Steve to give us a rundown of his position with Nuvias, and tell us a little more about what makes the company so unique. Currently, Steve has two combined roles, as MD of Siphon Networks, and EVP for the Nuvias UC Practice. Nuvias is the value-added distributor who purchased SIPHON in 2016, and their focus is on high-growth, highly-disruptive technology.

“Nuvias is the result of collaboration between some of the most well-known leaders in IT Distribution. For instance, SIPHON was a UC technology provider in Europe, Wick Hill was a specialist in cyber security, and Zycko specialised in advanced networking, with an international footprint.”

While all the partners involved in Nuvias play a part in making it a more competitive entity in the changing distribution space, Steve has an exhaustive knowledge of UC, since he co-founded SIPHON. He told me that SIPHON didn’t begin as a UC distributor.

“SIPHON began as a systems integrator. In 2009, Rob Smith and I had worked in numerous VC-backed start-up companies. We saw a market where countless UC cloud providers needed help with integration, so we set ourselves up to build platforms for those who wanted to excel in the cloud.”

How Do You Think UK Telecoms (Converged Technology) Distributors Have Changed in the Last 5 Years?

Though SIPHON didn’t start as a traditional UC distributor, it eventually went on a journey “down the stack”, as Steve calls it, to offer distribution while maintaining its engineering background and systems integration services.

“We’re a distributor that started as a systems integrator, and that’s almost the inverse of what a lot of people are attempting to do these days.”

I asked Steve how he thinks Telecoms distributors, now converged technology distributors, have evolved in recent years. He began by saying

“Everyone can say that they’re a value-added distributor, but what’s made us different over the years, is that we’ve really tried to get closer to our customers and find out what they need.”

Nuvias Banner Jan18
That approach to business is one of the reasons why SIPHON and Nuvias has managed to get ahead of the trend with Skype for Business as it began to emerge in the last five years, paving the way for UC technology.

“We were focusing on Skype for Business approximately 2 years before anyone else in the industry because we saw it as the largest newcomer in the UC space.”

“Using the skills we’ve honed over the last five years, we’ve been able to deliver the best, personalised solutions for our customers. We definitely got a head start on the competitors there.”

One of the other significant changes that Steve has noticed over the years, has been the genuine move towards video.

“We’ve seen a lot of uptake and interest around adding video to the communication portfolio and making it a part of the UC experience, whereas in the past it’s been its own separate island. This has been evident in the growth of our Lifesize business.”

Today, IT resellers are attracted to video because it’s attached to Skype, and traditional cloud providers see it as a way of building and differentiating their cloud offering.

Are Your Customers Changing Too?

Just as the telecoms world has changed with the arrival of unified communications. The customers that approach distribution networks like Nuvias are transforming too. Today, The Nuvias Group has a dedicated UC practice, with a broad collection of IT resellers, traditional telecommunications resellers, AV telecommunication resellers, and more. The world of communication is evolving, and more areas are converging together, inspiring consolidation between separate silos of technology.

“We’ve got a strong mix of everyone in our distribution network – anyone who is looking for a way to grow with Unified Communications. From IT to Mobile, to AV, whether you’re looking to install BroadSoft cloud, Skype for Business, or cloud video, there’s something for everyone.”

How Do You Put Cloud on the Shelf and Add Value?

With so many customers to appeal to and such a diverse marketplace to work in, I asked Steve how Nuvias are putting real value in the hands of their customers.

“Predominantly, our focus is on delivering complimentary solutions to the cloud communications platform, but we’re also wholesaling the BroadSoft product too, like CC-One and BroadCloud.”

“A lot of our value comes from the fact that we can attach all the hardware and additional services to the software for people who want to make the most of the cloud.”

Nuvias UC are unique in the fact that they’ve always gone about distribution in a different way. “We want to continue to differentiate ourselves as a technology enabler. We take a system legacy and deliver the best solution for our partners.”

At the same time, Nuvias can do around 95% of the work for their partners, depending on what the customer needs.

“At the outset, we have some resellers who are very strong sales-wise but need more help with technology. That’s where we offer a full range of solutions and can do pretty much everything for them. We spent a lot of time developing our hub and dovetail platforms, so resellers can sell hardware attachment products, and take the challenge out of transactions.”

What are Your Market Predictions for the Next 3 Years?

As we came to the end of our conversation, I was keen to find out where Steve and Nuvias saw the market for UC distribution heading in the years ahead. Steve told me that he believes the consolidation we’ve seen in 2017 will continue with gusto as we move into the future.

“I think if you’re a provider in the space today, you need to decide what you are good at, and what you want to be good at. You really can’t do everything these days, AND do it well. What people need to think about is what solutions they’re going to offer to differentiate themselves in such a crowded market.”

“Sometimes, that will mean partnering with other people in the industry so that they can fill the gaps and give the customer what they’re asking for.”

Nuvias Banner Jan18
Steve noted that today’s customers are looking for “true” unified communications. They’re not interested in anything that doesn’t integrate properly together, and they’re searching for something that will work seamlessly regardless of what their preferences might be.

“For today’s partners, it’s really about providing that full solution wrap and understanding what you need to do to give your customer the right thing. If you’re not willing to expand and change over the next few years, then you’ll risk losing your relevance to the end user. People are going to start demanding the right technology, in the right place, at the right time. Today’s partners need to find a way to deliver on those demands.”


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