Attacking the SMB

Myles Leach took on the MD role at NFON UK recently, he recently met up with Editor David Dungay to discuss his plans for the hosted telephony market.

Comms Business magazine (CBM): Can you describe your journey to the MD position? What are plans for the role?
Myles Leach (ML): I have been working in telecoms since the early nineties – I spent ten years working as the Managing Director of a traditional telecoms reseller. The industry has undergone huge changes since then. I recall viewing the advent of cloud telephony as a threat. However, as the technology advanced I could see that it was a huge opportunity. Just as the cloud revolutionised the data market I could see it had the scope to do the same with voice.

Myles Leach

I became involved with NFON UK three years ago. I was attracted to the company because it was European in its reach and it owned the technology. The UK office was in startup mode, so it meant I could assist with building and growing it from the ground up.

Since becoming Managing Director my initial focus has been consolidation; we have experienced huge growth in the last three years and I have a fantastic team who support my vision for NFON UK. Moving forwards the onus will be on continuing to engage with the right partners and ensuring that we take our channel programme to the next level.

CBM: The cloud telephony opportunity is clearly huge, are partners getting their proposition right, are they making the most of
the potential?
ML: Our partners are normally in one of two categories – they are either from a telco background; or they are from an IT background and they want to add our solution to their cloud service product portfolio.

The challenge faced by traditional telco resellers is that tend to be used to selling on-premise solutions and moving to cloud telephony means they need to fundamentally change their business model. This doesn’t just mean re-adjusting to a new technology; it means that they need to adapt to developing recurring revenues rather than the more traditional CAPEX business model – so having on-going annuity revenues rather than big one-time hit payments.

Some telco resellers have been quick to seize the opportunity – others have been reluctant. However in the last 12 months we have seen a huge increase in appetite and it is being driven by customer demand. They have moved their data to the cloud and now they want to do the same with voice. This market demand has hugely accelerated the cloud telephony market.

There is also the threat of losing business to IT resellers. Previously the entry barrier into voice was extremely high as there was a high level of investment required. Cloud telephony is fundamentally different. Getting started couldn’t be simpler as it’s an out-of-the-box solution. They can easily become a one-stop shop for the businesses whole ICT needs.

Once we start working with our more traditional reseller partners they are quick to embrace and maximize the opportunity. With cloud telephony being plug-and-play system the revenue opportunities are huge.

CBM: A lot of partners are struggling with Skype for Business and the potential revenues, especially at the SMB level. How can the Channel grasp this opportunity and actually make some decent profit?
ML: A big benefit of cloud telephony is the fact that you can sell an array of value added services around it. The fusion of telephony and Skype for Business has to start at the cloud level as it means it becomes a genuinely integrated solution with full enterprise voice features – such as call recording, prioritised ring groups, night service, and a myriad of other vital telephony functions.

However, this integration does not mean that the reseller has to undergo Microsoft training. Through our partnership with IT distributor Westcoast, partners have the unique opportunity to derive ‘Skype for Business as a Service’. For the first time through a single solution, NFON and Westcoast can deliver all the telephony features and collaboration tools that business customers need.

All this benefits from our longstanding server-level cloud integration with Skype for Business, removing the costs, risks and delays associated with application-level integration. It also changes the economics for full-blown UC, unlocking its capabilities for the SMB market and making the unified whole available for fast rollout, without any onsite hardware or software, on a monthly subscription model with a 30-day rolling contract.

The SMB market is one of the new growth areas for the NFON UK business, as we look to consolidate a prolonged period of market expansion in the mid to large enterprise space. The Skype for Business proposition is a great opportunity to do just that.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine