Selling value-added unified communications
According to Frost & Sullivan’s New Zealand Unified Communications Market Report 2011, the local UC market will reach $212.2 million by 2017 due to interest in conferencing, collaboration, email and mobility. However, technology commoditisation means there is less margin to be made in infrastructure and resellers need to provide more value-added professional services. I believe the most significant driver behind telephony refreshes in 2012 will be the imperative to increase productivity and reduce cost, as organisations respond to tight economic conditions at home and offshore. In this environment, resellers need to make a strong business case for unified communications and invest in people who really understand the underlying structural shifts occurring in our industry. For example, the ‘phone call’ is becoming old school, as person to person contact is often originating in IM chat then switching to a desktop video conference application such as Skype. The widespread adoption of smartphones by organisations and their employees increases the number of potential UC ‘touch points’ as people work remotely. In a global 24/7 economy, New Zealand-based businesses want their customers to be able to contact them on any device and ideally via a single number. These trends reflect a combination of generational influences, market forces and the impact of enabling technologies like SIP. Understanding them is essential to effectively exploit emerging opportunities in systems integration and business process automation. Similarly, products cannot be sold without understanding how they support business processes. Think about how the photocopier market has changed and draw your own analogy with the PBX industry. Where photocopiers were once stand-alone analogue machines, today’s digital multifunction devices are central to an information management strategy and embedded in the corporate network. Whether resellers can truly differentiate themselves comes down to the investment in people. Vendors like Zeacom want to see more value added services available, especially in software-based telephony environments. As you prepare for the challenges of 2012, ask yourself whether you are close enough to your vendor partners, are connected to their subject matter experts and have the right people to sell new services.