Distributors play a vital role in helping make technology accessible to businesses across the UK, providing resellers with the expertise to successfully deploy solutions for their customers.
Darren Garland, group managing director, ProVu Communications, explained how ProVu connects the dots across the value chain. He said, “There is this triangle between the vendor, ourselves and the reseller. In that space, our team can sit with you and brainstorm ideas for some quite innovative solutions.”
Garland discussed the services and support ProVu brings into the equation. He said, “We don’t take products on that we can’t add value to. We are more than a box shifter when it comes to distribution. What we’re about is allowing resellers to more easily deliver products to their customers. We wrap our own services around all the boxes and products that we sell, to allow resellers to deploy more easily.”
The company’s focus on technical capabilities, Garland explained, helps give resellers the tools they need to successfully guide customers to the best solution for their problem.
He said, “We have more people in our technical team than salespeople, and all our sales guys are technical. They really understand the products, so you can phone them up and they will talk to you about solutions, rather than: how many do you want and how much is it?”
Solutions over products
The distributor has been clear about its focus throughout its history, but Garland explained the company evolved from selling products to selling solutions.
Garland commented, “ProVu is quite niche in what we do. We’ve only ever done voice over IP, and we started 22 years ago, when voice over IP was more of a concept. We’ve lived and breathed it throughout, and we’re constantly looking at how we can improve things and make the solutions better.
“When I came to ProVu 13 years ago, we used to sell phones and, if you wanted the cable that went with the phone, you went elsewhere. If you wanted the headset that went with the phone, you went elsewhere.
“I came from a PBX background where I was used to selling solutions not products. So I was keen for us to go out and find the best vendors for all the other things we’d need to help partners deploy a complete solution.”
Garland explained how opportunities can be missed if a distributor is not able to offer all components in a solution. “If you go to the market and say: I’ve got this hosted solution. If they then ask about access control or a paging system and you can’t deliver that, then you’re not going to get the sale. You need to be able to take the functionality forwards rather than backwards.”
As such, ProVu now helps resellers to create successful unified communications (UC) deployments. Garland said, “We looked for the products that can enrich a UC solution, and that’s what we have in our portfolio. We then layer our services on so resellers can deploy those things.
“If you are offering products like access control, for example, every customer won’t need that solution, so you might not have an engineer that understands the specifics of that. If you need that support, we’ll help you, we’ll back you up, and we’ll allow you to deliver.”
The right solutions
Garland was speaking at a partner day hosted by the ProVu team that focused on enabling resellers and service providers to maximise the opportunities that will come with the ISDN and PSTN switch-off. 2N, Snom, Sangoma, and Draytek shared insights into the specific use cases their products can fulfil.
Garland discussed the difficulties channel companies will face in finding solutions for upgrading every solution currently running across the PSTN.
He said, “Everybody is talking about switch-off. We are starting to get involved in conversations with resellers and partners where they are having issues finding solutions for those more complex problems. The path to take an analogue phone into a SIP trunk or a hosted platform is well trodden, and everybody knows how to do it.
“Over the long period of time the analogue network has been up, lots of use cases have just worked, and no one has really had to think about them. We were getting calls from people saying: I’ve got this problem with a block of flats with lifts, or I’ve got this problem with a paging system, or whatever it is.”
ProVu’s vendor partners, Garland explained, have answers for that complexity but resellers might not come across particular use cases frequently enough to immediately know how to solve them.
He said, “We’ve got partners with amazing products that sit on the niche end of the telecoms spectrum and people aren’t necessarily aware of them. We were seeing people putting some fairly inelegant solutions in that weren’t necessary the best solutions. We wanted to bring those vendors together with our partners to pinpoint specific problems and the solutions that can solve them.”
The next two years will be a busy time for the telecoms channel as businesses upgrade the solutions that run across the PSTN. Garland said, “Everybody in the industry knows that it’s not well publicised and the end users don’t necessarily understand it. It’s down to us, as a telecoms industry, to educate these people that they’re going to have a problem and they need to be stepping forward.
“One of the biggest problems is a lot of customers don’t even know what they’ve got. They’ve got infrastructure that they just pay bills on. They have analogue lines that’ll be sat there doing something, but they don’t know what. Those lines are going to get switched off, and businesses don’t even understand the consequences. We’ve got solutions to cover all angles, we just need to educate resellers so they know how to deal with those more complex use cases.”