Comms Business Magazine talks to John Bird, Head of Systems and Support Services at Micro-P, about the Samsung OfficeServ system, how sales are growing and why he believes it is the easiest range of IP devices to deploy.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): You say that Samsung OfficeServ is the easiest VoIP phone system to install and deploy on the market. Why is that?
John Bird (JB): I have to say I’m genuinely impressed with how easy Samsung solutions are to install. Not only do the systems use common hardware and common applications across the range, but the IP devices are as good as plug and play – certainly when it comes to deploying remote IP phones. Unlike many systems on the market, where remote IP phones need to have a static public IP address, Samsung take a different tack and all you need is for the device to be allocated local IP address settings via DHCP (they can have static addressing if required), a user ID and password for the device and the Public IP address for the PBX. By utilising NAT and VPN software that is built into each device, the IP handsets can even be deployed behind a consumer broadband circuit, with a dynamic, public IP address. In fact there is no need to change or reconfigure the remote users router – just plug the phone in, let it be allocated a local IP address and the phone will ‘tunnel’ through the internet to the PBX and securely register itself to the network.
With over 20 years’ experience in the voice and IT channel, I have to say it’s the easiest range of IP devices to deploy EVER!
CBM: In a challenging year for PBX sales Year on Year Samsung PBX sales are reported to be up. What do you put that down to?
JB: Micro-P has been distributing PBX solutions for almost four years now and in my time here I’m pleased to report sustained year on year growth for our PBX vendors and our Unified Communications team as a whole. We all work in a challenging market place and I’m pleased to report that five months into FY14, we have seen double digit growth across our Samsung Voice Solutions business unit. There are many reasons for this including resellers increasing order values by including applications such as desktop CTI, call recording and PCI compliance.
We deliver regular sales training workshops for our Samsung resellers to help keep the channel up to date with latest product and application developments. In addition, we also hold regular sessions to show resellers how to conduct product demonstrations – a good quality product demonstration will often lead to an order! Away from increasing reseller order values and increasing opportunity closure rates, we’ve seen many resellers in the last 12 months move away from other vendors solutions and migrate to Samsung and many of these resellers have chosen Micro-P to help them on board with Samsung. We are also uniquely placed in the channel to help traditional voice resellers migrate into the data channel and vice-versa. Our impartial, honest approach, supported by over 30 years distribution experience, allows us to help a reseller choose a suitable product set and route to market for all technologies. The market is challenged but the worst is behind us. The market is starting to grow, albeit slowly.
CBM: With Samsung sales surging who are the losers (vendors) in the market?
JB: Micro-P always deliberate over the vendors we bring into our portfolio and we made the decision four years ago to bring in NEC and Samsung as our core PBX vendors. Each has seen massive growth over this period, both in revenues and in trading accounts. We’ve seen NEC grow to the global number one vendor of PBX solutions below 100 extensions and we’ve been honoured with NEC’s fastest growing distributor in EMEA Award for the last two years.
Samsung continues to go from strength to strength and is a vendor that sits across all of our business units – UC, Mobile, Computing, Networking, Print, etc. With revenues outpacing market growth rates, Samsung continue to be a very important strategic partner.
We seldom speak to resellers who are competing with brands such as Alcatel Lucent, Swyx, Cisco and many others, which I put down to these firms focussing outside of the SMB channel. Avaya, LG and Mitel continue to restructure their routes to market and we find that both our system brands are highly competitive in terms of product functionality and most importantly in price. We should remember that many of these vendors suffer from the burden of high debts and limited marketing budgets, which will restrict R&D budgets, product development and therefore product differentiation. We believe that in Samsung and NEC, we have two of the very best SMB solution vendors; both are financially stable and most importantly continuing to outperform the market.
CBM: Of course it’s not just Samsung telephony products that you supply. What other Samsung products are resellers buying and/or bundling with the OfficeServ?
JB: We are a true solutions distributor. I think if you named me a product, we’ve bundled it as part of voice solution. Every quote we produce for a reseller should include every item to deliver the solution – from the Voice Server or PBX to the PoE network infrastructure, Wireless LAN, applications server, large format screens for hotel, call and contact centre solutions, mobile devices for field based staff and peripheral products.
This is where we are uniquely placed to deliver Samsung solutions as the current BYOD trend permits us to deliver solutions incorporating OfficeServ voice server, Galaxy S4 mobile devices, tablets, FMC software clients, Samsung enterprise grade WLAN infrastructure, large format Samsung screens, call recording and reporting applications and desktop CTI solutions including database integration.
We are certainly seeing a trend towards end users needing to replace existing PBX products with solutions that support the mobile workforce and Samsung are uniquely positioned as the ONLY PBX vendor that produces market leading mobile telephones and tablets. With Samsung able to deliver unique features incorporating their own mobile devices, we are seeing resellers adopt this technology at a startling rate.
CBM: How does the Samsung system fit in the Micro-P unified communications offering for your resellers?
JB: Our UC offering has expanded as a direct result of product developments from Samsung. Over the last three years Samsung has enabled us to deliver voice solutions with OfficeServ, offer a highly feature rich gateway product with Ubigate, increase end user ROI and support BYOD and mobile working trends with Wireless Enterprise solutions and Enterprise WLAN infrastructure and finally deliver an application for almost any vertical market in the channel. Let’s not forget that Samsung applications allow users to dial from almost any application, deliver management statistics and call analysis to every end user (no longer a call centre requirement), support call recording over all media types and can support deployments up to 3000 extensions per node.
Away from Samsung, our field based, professional, on site engineering services team, supported by in house technical experts, leasing services, network connectivity and provisioning services and, most importantly, the largest portfolio of products available in the voice distribution channel, help ensure our UC offering is second to none in the channel.
CBM: What new applications have you introduced from Samsung?
JB: Micro-P’s Samsung portfolio has grown significantly over the last 18 months and from a hardware perspective now includes Ubigate, SCMe and Enterprise grade WLAN infrastructure products. The range of software applications continues to expand and develop and includes one of the very best desktop CTI applications on the market – Samsung Xchange.
With the ability to dial from pretty much any database out of the box and supporting multiple operating systems including Microsoft, iOS and Citrix we report CTI application attachment rates of over 70%. The application also integrates with multiple databases for inbound screen popping and with direct access to the development team, certifying additional databases is simple and cost effective. Progressive and predictive dialling applications complement existing call management and call recording hardware and it should be noted that no longer are thee applications targeted at call and contact centre environments.
Through product training sessions, we are educating our resellers to understand the benefit of deploying call management applications under all vertical markets to deliver accurate, real time call statistics into the business.
Moving away from the core system infrastructure, Mobile Enterprise developments and a joined up route to market from Samsung’s’ mobile and fixed line telephony teams have resulted in what I believe is the best mobility solution in the channel in the form of an intelligent FMC client with advanced features when deployed on a Samsung mobile device.
After all, no other PBX vendor produces market leading mobile devices and the need to integrate a mobile workforce into the office communication system is one of the key requirements of an end user – no doubt fuelled by the current BYOD trends.
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