Protecting Revenues with SIP

Comms Business Magazine talks to Scott Riley- Director of Cloud and Hosting at GCI about how best to migrate your user base from ISDN to SIP trunks and not adversely affect on-going revenue stream.

According to Cavell research, SIP trunks in the UK exceeded 2 million by the end of 2015. This represents a 31% growth year on year. The message that BT plan to turn off ISDN by 2025 has certainly inspired the Channel community to make good progress here, however it’s fair to say that most end-user businesses are largely unaware of the changes.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): If you have an existing ISDN base, how can you migrate it without just seeing a large decline in revenue?

Scott Riley (SR): There are a couple of approaches here:

Firstly, ISDN replacement service. For the customer that simply must have that PBX on-premise for solid business reasons, you can simply offer an ISDN replacement service with SIP. You’ll need to integrate the PBX with the IP network either through the use of IP line cards (depends on the make/model/age of the PBX) or by using a gateway appliance e.g. Sonos/Audiocodes to bridge the gap. This option is reasonably straightforward and typically results in some one-off revenue for the Channel partner in hardware sales and professional services.

Alternatively, you should where possible migrate the customer completely to a Voice over IP service. Transitioning the customer to this type of service provides fantastic new functionality for the customer but also an on-going revenue stream for the Channel Partner. Hosted VoIP products are sticky revenue and flex as the customers flexes, when they grow so do your revenues.

CBM: What practical advice would you give to a reseller planning for this change in the market?

SR: Get your target market right. The largest area of growth for SIP in 2015 was seen in the SME space, mid-market less so, and if anything Enterprise is slowing down. With Microsoft Skype for Business nibbling away at the very top end 25% of Enterprise, you can see they’ll be tackling Enterprise for a while before there are compelling Office365 Skype products for the small to mid-market segments.

I wouldn’t focus on micro businesses at 5-10 seats, you’re better off with a strong mobile offering here and unless they really need phones on desks, mobility is key here. Equally those businesses who are out in rural areas with poor connectivity are not going to get a great SIP experience right now.

The perfect opportunity size for SIP/Hosted Voice is around the 20 ISDN channel mark, there’s a lot of these guys still to target and they have great compelling reasons to move.

CBM: What part is SIP going to play in enabling new applications for customers?

SR: There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming out of WebRTC but outside of that as a specific technology, let’s just think broader. Now that your phone call is an IP call it can be anywhere on any device. This means that we can easily integrate website chat with our contact centres, we can now escalate that experience into a full voice call and we can even move it to a video call seamlessly at no additional call cost and without proprietary technology. SIP enables businesses to communicate with their customers in a whole new raft of ways meeting millennial expectations and bolting into social in a way which ISDN never could.

CBM: What should a reseller look at when choosing a supplier, as everybody is looking similar?

SR: Suppliers need to make life easier for their Channel partners. They need to have great ordering portals, bring consistent and frequent communications, deliver excellent value for money and make the partner look great in front of their customer. Monitoring and reporting needs to spot on and above all, the billing needs to be right each month. When evaluating a supplier, these are the key areas I would investigate. Above that, it’s about the bolt-ons and the value adds, can the partner offer multiple services and take away more pain e.g. deliver the circuit, the SIP Trunk, the Hosted Voice platform and manage the Number Porting from the current service? Will they provide you with lead generation and partner with you at customer events and meetings to generate more sales?

CBM: Will SIP enable providers to offer an international service?

SR: Absolutely, once we’ve captured that voice call into IP, we can take that call anywhere, anytime and onto any device. This opens up a whole world (literally) of opportunity and explains why we’re seeing large VoIP providers in one European country now start to dominate across the whole of the EU.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine