Stephen Hackett, Managing Director of Technology Services Distributor firm Intelisys Global, believes that with the UCaaS market now accelerating fast, it’s really important that resellers don’t find themselves restricted either by UCaaS vendor choices or by their historical UC market focus:
In its last Magic Quadrant for UCaaS (Unified Communications-as-a-Service), Gartner noted that the UCaaS market is now transitioning into a must-have solution for enterprise delivery, with larger organisations increasingly trusting UC solutions to deliver key functionality such as conferencing, telephony, messaging, voice and communications.
Certainly the sales figures back up this claim. According to Q1 2017 data from Synergy Research Group , UCaaS revenues grew 22% globally year on year, while the traditional on-premises enterprise voice market declined by 9% over the same period.
This looks like great news for customers, UCaaS solution providers and the UK communications reseller community; however, I suspect that the channel still has some work to do if it’s to successfully address this opportunity.
It’s probably fair to suggest that much of the UK market for UC solutions is still predominantly defined by the initial focus of those resellers who sold UC-enabled, cloud-based telephony solutions into small to mid-size SME businesses. With 100s of resellers selling highly-competitive bundled hosted telephony packages, it’s hardly surprising that everyone got stuck in a mindset where UC generally equated to low value alternatives to traditional PBX systems.
Taking advantage of ISDN decommissioning
You could argue that this perception has actually held back UCaaS market development in the UK, and it’s a myth that resellers need to destroy quickly if they are to really take advantage of the opportunities that UCaaS is likely to bring over the next five years – particularly with BT planning to decommission all ISDN lines in the UK by 2025, and other European telcos following similar strategies.
As a result, it’s imperative for resellers to shake off the mantle of low-cost cloud telephony and actually start building out their cloud communications portfolio to better address the opportunities presented by both SMB and enterprise communications needs.
2025 might seem a long way off, but current UCaaS market growth suggests that organisations are already planning for this transition. Given the business critical nature of today’s existing ISDN infrastructure, it’s realistic to expect that businesses aren’t likely to wait until the last minute – indeed, it’s expected that SIP will account for around 80% of telephony lines by 2020. At Intelisys Global we’re expecting larger firms particularly to be using the interim period to embed UCaaS within their operation, and to – potentially – be transitioning towards their second-stage deployments well ahead of the ISDN shutdown.
More than just telephony – building out your UCaaS offering
With UCaaS, however, organisations are now looking for more than just telephony and there’s a great opportunity for the reseller community to get involved. With an expanding range of exciting UCaaS offerings, mobile-first functionality that businesses actually want to use, and a growing acceptance that cloud is the right delivery platform, resellers need to ensure that they’re ready to support their customers’ ambitions.
As a Technology Services Distributor, we’re already seeing smarter channel sales partners broadening out their portfolios so that they can be in a position to capture more of their customers’ spend. Specialisation in the hyper-competitive cloud world inevitably leads to commoditisation, so we’re supporting our sales partners with the solutions, services and expertise that they’ll need to deliver a full UCaaS Managed Services offering. This will mean a range of service offerings, particularly across key areas such as SD-WAN, Disaster Recovery as a Service, UC-as-a-Service, and Desktop-as-a-Service – as well as integrated Security capabilities.
Becoming your customers’ trusted UCaaS adviser
Today’s organisations simply don’t want to be in a situation where they’re having to work with multiple vendors to drive forward all their separate cloud, telco, security and office productivity requirements. It’s just too complicated, time-consuming and expensive to manage. That’s why those resellers that can bring together multiple technology solutions and offer a greater range of managed service offerings will prove increasingly attractive to customers. And for the channel, the clear prize is the chance to claim a greater share of their customers’ UCaaS spend.
Of course delivering on that’s much easier said than done. That’s where the Technology Services Distributor or Master Agent approach can make such a difference for the channel. Providing immediate access to carrier, cloud and other communications solutions from over 150 global supplier partners will mean sales partners can offer more services from more providers. Perhaps more importantly, channel partners will also be able to concentrate on what they’re best at – supporting their customers as supplier-neutral trusted advisers.
Channel partners need to be in a position to serve their customers as a genuine UCaaS adviser, helping them to make sense of all the multiple evolving cloud technologies that most organisations simply don’t have the time or energy to understand for themselves. The key for resellers will be to leverage UCaaS technologies to solve specific business problems for customers – and, in so doing, become the ‘least replaceable’ partner in their customers’ value chain.
Guest Blog By Stephen Hackett, Managing Director, Intelisys Global.
About Intelisys Global
Intelisys Global is one of the leading technology services distributor of business communications services—including voice, data, access, cable, collaboration, wireless and cloud—in the world. Intelisys Global is dedicated to one thing – serving the needs and accelerating the success of the industry’s top producing telecom sales agents, VARs and IT solution providers, as they build vast and vigorously protected streams of recurring revenue for their businesses.