Turning on the Apps

Turning on the Apps

Peter Howells
Peter Howells

Peter Howells, Managing Director of services specialist 5i, explains how his organisation can help resellers expand their applications business profitably just by identifying opportunities and then partnering with his company.

Peter Howells, Managing Director of Berkshire-based 5i, has long been a champion of services to the Cisco channel partner network. Today, as part of 365 ITMS, that role for 5i continues as his company provides design, deployment and support of intellectual services and integration of applications for resellers. This includes ‘back end integration’ with user business applications in sectors such as housing management systems, legal, and customer relationship management solutions.

“It would be realistic to say that 70% of Cisco CallManager implementations are based purely on dial tone. This leaves a huge opportunity still on the table for resellers. The problem is that in the main these resellers do not have the skill sets required to sell those application sets. This is where we can actively help the channel secure valuable applications business.

“We have provided resellers with a checklist of questions to ask their users in order to make an early qualification and definition of requirements and at that point we engage with the reseller on a per user, no win no fee basis. Typically we are often faced with two types of user; those wishing to move away from ‘traditional telephony’ and those wishing to extend the functionality of their Cisco telephony beyond dial tone.


“When it comes to providing applications we tend to focus on the Zeacom Communications Applications Suite having established some five years ago the product was one of the very few solutions approved for use on the CallManager. “Customers are calling us asking for applications to be ‘turned on’. They want to make more effective use of the Cisco product they bought a few years ago and ‘do something’ that will improve productivity and/or reduce their costs. We recently installed a Zeacom solution at a local government site where we were able to reduce their number of contact points from 20 to 4. Local government has to cut costs to meet targets and working smarter such as this works for them.”


What’s Selling?

Howells says that there are no typical applications that are selling in particular just those that make the end-users customer ‘more sticky’.

“It could be as simple as routing callers back to the last person they spoke to.

“Keeping your eyes and ears opens whenever you visit a client helps. I recently overheard a receptionist at a main Vauxhall dealer say to a caller, “Sorry, Jim’s on the phone at the moment and he has a customer with him as well. To me, that is a sales lead. We recently installed a Zeacom solution for a car dealer which identified customers with fleets of cars that required servicing that placed their calls in a VIP queue that routed them to the right person quickly.”

“Presence is another key driver and here the Zeacom product can detect keyboard strokes and mouse movement so even when a person’s presence indicates they are at their desk and available the absence of keyboard and mouse activity can show if they are actually there.

“Buyers are more discerning these days and demand value for money. They want to do more with the same resources or do the same business with less resource. At the same time they have recognised that the effective use of technology can provide differentiation and commercial advantage.

“Take the legal profession for example where the provision of legal services is open to far more organisations these days. Traditional legal firms have to hunt for new business and they are turning to technology to achieve this.”


Right Now

Howells concludes, “Today we find ourselves carrying out a lot of implementations for channel partners that involve Cisco CallManager and Microsoft Lync with the Zeacom Communications Applications Suite as it integrates with both and will report upon both within the same application instance. Should the Cisco element be taken out of the user deployment then Zeacom seamlessly works with Lync telephony.

“Overall there is a great opportunity out there for all resellers to look at their current user bases and see where they can provide new applications to lock down those customers.”

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