The unified communications (UC) industry has surged to prominence in recent years - so much so, that Ingram Micro New Zealand formed a devoted UC business unit a little over a year ago.
Business manager of UC at Ingram Micro NZ, Danny Meadows says the industry is an evolving beast and one that resellers would be wise to stay on top of during the relentless march forward of digital transformation and mobile, collaborative workforces.
“A key and very positive trend in the industry that I have noticed is a leaning towards adopting UC technology as a ‘Green’ enabler,” Meadows says.
“Businesses are becoming environmentally and socially responsible and this has far reaching effects from cutting down office space requirements and running costs through to improving staff satisfaction and retention by enabling remote working and collaboration.”
Meadows highlighted further trends, including the recognition of mobility and collaboration tools as key drivers in efficiencies for all businesses regardless of their size, as they’re now able to leverage the power of platforms that until quite recently were the province of large enterprise only.
“This has largely been driven by the maturing of the UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) market and products. Right up until a few years ago, businesses were largely still being sold a dream that was only really useful to IT savvy staff and this negatively impacted end user adoption and satisfaction, and subsequently through bad press slowed the adoption of this technology,” says Meadows.
“The products now available on the market - whether it be a CPE, hybrid or truly cloud based solution - are able to deliver the promise we have been waiting for.”
However, while cloud and multi tenantable solutions are currently extremely attractive and are experiencing massive uptake (particularly in the mid-market space), Meadows believes there will be a slow down in the race to cloud for UC.
“Cloud based UCaaS solutions are exceptionally robust and can meet the technology needs of many business whilst at the same time offering OPEX and consumption based cost models allowing ‘pay as you grow’ and freeing up valuable capital for many businesses,” Meadows says.
“That said CPE/on premise and hybrid solutions still have a large part to play in this space for end users who are especially security conscious or who may have non-standard requirements. A more consultative needs-based and less technology driven or “one size fits all” approach to a clients requirements should be taken and I believe this is what will begin to define the successful UC resellers in the market.”
The key vendors in the UC space (all distributed by Ingram Micro NZ) share Meadows’ sentiments, including:
Jabra managing director of Australia and New Zealand, David Pigott
“Activity-based working is a major growth area as there is an increasing drive towards work from home capability for when people want to really concentrate on the work at hand. This requires the correct technology to be deployed to allow full worker mobility,” says Pigott.
“Those with an eye on the future are already building ecosystems that revolve around the core cloud offering. Migration services, adoption services, change management are all key requirements that are in demand for enterprises making the move to Cloud UC service.”
New Zealand business manager of Cisco for Ingram Micro, Carla Edlin
“There are a number of trends evolving in the UC industry at the moment, including a heightened focus on social comms, open collaboration, team productivity and the construction of communication channels for B2B partners and customers,” says Edlin.
“In terms of how resellers can capitalise on these trends and make headway in the market, it’s simple; services, services, services.”
Polycom distribution director of Australia and New Zealand, Mark Braxton
“We see workflow integration as key to improved productivity, adoption of new technologies and user satisfaction - failure to seamlessly integrate UC into business workflows inhibits this process,” says Braxton.
“Resellers can capitalise on these trends by providing professional/consulting services to assist customers with cloud-based UC strategies, planning/design, execution, integration and user adoption/training.”
Yealink senior sales manager for Asia Pacific, Owen Liu
“UC solutions have become critical for businesses regardless of their size. UC greatly enhances staff productivity while simultaneously reducing the cost of communication," Liu says.
"Dedicated to communication technology innovations, we help our clients make the most of their UC experience and embrace the power of easy collaboration.”
Meadows says we’re entering a unique time in the market, as many businesses with comparably simple technology requirements opt into the large multi-tenantable UCaaS solutions becoming available, it will be critical for UC resellers to differentiate themselves and clearly articulate their value to those end users.
According to Meadows, those who strongly align with successful platforms and who are able to discuss with and identify their client's specific business requirements and then tailor a solution to meet those needs will capitalise strongly in this market.
“Ingram Micro’s UC business unit was founded with the specific aim of bringing all the UC and collaboration vendors under a single team with specialist skills in this space,” Meadows says.
“Any reseller can engage the team on anything from a simple Jabra headset enquiry through to a full UC solution scope and design and be assured of expert assistance. By bringing many key UC vendors into one team we are able to tailor UC solutions to customers’ specific requirements."