In this interview Samantha Sale, Product Manager for HV.Select at Digital Wholesale Solutions spoke to Comms Business about the opportunities for the Channel surrounding Microsoft Teams.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Do business owners still perceive hosted telephony as a cost rather than an enabler?
Samantha Sale (SS): Prior to COVID-19 there was a definite split within the market: those that didn’t truly understand the value and potential of Hosted Telephony and saw it as an additional expense, and those that appreciated how it could enable businesses to be more flexible and efficient within day to day operations.
As we rapidly enter the transition into the new normal, post-COVID, businesses are starting to realise the benefits that Unified Communications and Cloud Telephony offer. Those that didn’t see the opportunities offered by IP communications are now evaluating the different options to see which solution meets their needs, however, cost is still a factor for many.
Those who have committed to a fully hosted route are now eager for enhanced collaboration either through their existing telephony solution or a product that seamlessly integrates into it. The first one to spring to mind is Microsoft Teams.
CBM: With the prevalence of the collaboration vendors (like Microsoft Teams) what does this mean for the Channel?
SS: Microsoft has disrupted the UC market by introducing Teams, with its ability to collaborate with the most commonly used business applications such as Office and Outlook. Teams makes multipoint video calling really easy while also offering simple cross-company collaboration for seamless real-time document sharing and editing, but, at its core, it is missing a key element: voice. This brings about new opportunities for Channel partners to enter the IT sector, and vice versa.
For Microsoft CSP partners that own the incumbent relationship with the end customers for Microsoft technology, Teams has opened up a clear new path to sell voice services. This certainly won’t be easy business for Microsoft partners to win, as voice can be complex, however this must represent a significant new competitive threat to our industry.
It is also interesting that some of the Silicon Valley UCaaS players, notably RingCentral and 8×8, are seeking to make it easy for the IT Channel to win voice business by offering their platforms on a dealer or agent model, meaning that all the IT provider needs to do is introduce the deal and the UCaaS provider will handle everything else, leveraging their own UK PS resources. In the rush to move away from ‘fixed’ and adopt UCaaS, and given the quality relationships that many IT resellers have with their customers, we see this as a significant new competitive dimension for the telco Channel.
In the last year, we have seen a significant shift in vendors’ UC strategy. Vendors are no longer developing their own UC tools to the same extent, with their ethos changing from “We will constantly improve our collaboration tool and voice services to offer the best in market UCaaS product” to “We will integrate our best in market voice service with the best in market collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams, to offer a complete suite of UC solutions”.
If you don’t have a Teams compatible solution in your kitbag you may struggle in the coming year when trying to defend your UCaaS business from other providers.
CBM: Are all Direct Routing propositions born equal?
SS: No two Direct Routing solutions are the same. Every provider has put their own stamp on Direct Routing but, ultimately, they all serve the same purpose – to enable your Teams user to dial into the PSTN, right? Well that’s not strictly true.
If you combine Teams with a SIP service that has access to an IP calling network but little other integration, you will get a very basic calling service, but if you bolt Teams onto a SIP service that sits on a more robust, feature-rich platform, then you have some exciting UC features that really enhance your customers’ Teams experience and that’s where you really add value.
With SIP2teams, we have seamlessly created a way to integrate Teams into our feature-rich HV.Select platform, providing the extensive features UC has to offer, deployed at the click of a button. For many Channel partners, a lack of Microsoft experience can offer a barrier to market. What we are offering is a solution where all the complicated configuration within Teams is done for them, making it easy for them to take this essential new solution to market.
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