The race is on for today's resellers
It’s hard to ignore the rapid evolution of the communications marketplace lately. The cloud is a more enticing proposition for companies than ever before, particularly as more businesses look for chances to digitally transform. With less than 20% of organisations in the cloud and another 80% on-premises right now, there’s a huge opportunity for partners and resellers ready to step into the next generation with their customers.
Of course, with huge opportunity often comes a lot of competition too. Today’s resellers could potentially achieve great things in the UC space, but they need a way to differentiate. The UK has a very strong channel marketplace, and as we move into the era of UC 3.0, with UC, collaboration and CX tech combined, there’s bound to be even more competition to deal with. Unless you have a strategy in place, then you’ll fail to stand out among the crowds of resellers in this space. Remember, it’s not just traditional UC resellers that you’re competing against either, but IT and application service providers too.
Failing to plan for the future of UCaaS could mean that your customers decide not to wait for you to catch up and seek support from your competitors instead.
As a reseller in the UC space today, you can’t afford to get caught in a race to the bottom. Instead, it’s crucial to find a way to differentiate by adding real value to whatever you have to offer. Like any race, preparation and strategy are essential, it’s not just about how long your legs are, it’s about what you do to get ahead of the other runners.
In this changing marketplace, your business model may need to evolve, and now is the time for resellers to start thinking about what kind of state their channel business will need to be in, and what alterations they need to explore to win this race.
One option could be to consider the hybrid world. After all, not every company will want to move immediately and completely into the cloud. As you go further up the market and begin to look at larger enterprises, these companies have made huge investments into their existing solutions, so they might not want to rip and replace all of their current technology. Hybrid allows businesses and users to continue leveraging some of their existing assets.
Personally, I believe that there are opportunities for hybrid all the way down to the mid and small business space. Smaller companies also don’t want to waste the crucial budget that they’ve spent on their existing communication systems.
If you’re looking at the marketplace as a channel partner or reseller right now, it’s easy to see that everything is moving at an incredible pace. It’s important to think about what you can do to set yourself up for success. For instance, are you going to be looking at a full-stack or multi-vendor approach? Do you just go for Cisco, Mitel, Avaya or something similar, or do you consider something more multi-vendor?
SIP-centric solutions with APIs and support for any kind of handset are becoming increasingly popular. Look at the Yeastar PBX for instance, and you can see a very easy and seamless way to get your entire system up and running very quickly, in a highly scalable format. The core solution is ready to go for you, and you can begin adding complementary solutions around the edges to differentiate yourself in the current market.
The trend right now for resellers is definitely moving further towards multi-vendor, particularly in the small business sector. Going multi-vendor can really make you stand out in the current environment. Although the opportunity to build your own platform is there, I don’t think this offers the same kind of opportunity for smaller resellers. The time to market is too long, and there are already so many established and trusted companies out there. With the option to develop a customised UC stack, it doesn’t really make sense to build your own.
Resellers today have a lot to think about in terms of how they’re going to go to market. For instance, are they going to sell directly, or bring on some agents? Agents are becoming increasingly popular in the distribution environment, as they allow resellers to focus more on the sales than the engineering part of the process.
Another point to consider as a reseller is the threats that you face in this marketplace. It’s not just new entrants from adjacent markets that resellers have to worry about today. There’s also an increasing level of threat from vendors in the marketplace that have opened up eCommerce direct offerings. These direct solutions can potentially push channel partners out of the equation. This leaves me to wonder whether channel partners can really trust their vendors to stick with them or will they all eventually be like Microsoft and also go direct?
“Speed and agility is key, a platform that can scale and activate customers in minutes is today’s silver bullet”
Some of the biggest vendors, including Microsoft and Cisco, have already begun to explore the eCommerce route. Now’s the time to make sure you know what kind of business you want five or ten years from now. Do you want something with exit value that you can sell, or do you want a business that’s just giving you a great survival lifestyle?
Despite various challenges, there’s lots of opportunity out there for resellers. More and more, the trends are moving towards platforms and APIs. APIs are helping companies to differentiate themselves in a marketplace where customers want more customised and unique offerings. Nowadays it’s much easier to align yourself with specific applications like Salesforce, or Zendesk and open up a specialised channel for your business.
The key thing to remember right now is that today’s companies want more than just a phone on their desk; they want collaboration and video, as well as new virtual assistants and disruptive tools. Cloud contact centre tools is another way to upgrade your offering which can drastically improve your margins.
2020 is going to be a busy time in the UC space; it’s important to get the right plans in place.