Over the last few months IP telephony provider HipCom say they have identified that there is a general lack of technical understanding of SIP – and it’s importance in the delivery of IP Telephony – within the UK telecoms channel. Understanding SIP messaging and the data protocols which are involved is key to implementing VoIP – and this knowledge gap often leaves potential resellers without the required skills to successfully benefit from selling solutions based around these new technologies.
According to HipCom many of the players who want to get into VoIP are coming from the voice side, whereas IP Telephony is basically a data communications technology. Traditional PBX resellers know that they need to move into this space to protect their businesses and their customer bases, but do not always have the skills which are required to make this possible. And on the other side, even though it is much easier for a data reseller to absorb the knowledge needed to successfully sell and implement VoIP solutions, even data integrators and service providers are lacking some of these core skills – although the gap is undoubtedly not as large.
One of the key challenges which partners face when implementing a IP Telephony solution is the ability to troubleshoot. In a traditional telecoms environment where technical skills have been built up over years of hands-on knowledge, the ability to deal with problems which occur during installation, or subsequent issues thereafter, is relatively straightforward. But with IP Telephony, where there is a general lack of inherent knowledge, there are a whole raft of new issues to deal with, all of which can affect the implementation process and the ongoing stability of the solution. Issues which traditional PBX resellers simply do not have the capability to deal with. Partners need an underlying knowledge of the technology to enable them to successfully implement and troubleshoot an IP Telephony installation, be it a hosted solution or indeed even a complete IP-based telecoms system.
The new Hipcom VoIP Skills Training programme addresses these issues and equips partners with the necessary skills to confidently deploy, troubleshoot and support hosted VoIP solutions – whatever the partners’ start-point – bridging the knowledge gap between traditional telephony and IP Telephony, as Hipcom MD Tony Brook explains:
“Based on our experience of working with the channel we know that a skills gap does exist and that lack of technical knowledge is a real issue which needs to be addressed. We have done this by bringing to market a training programme that aims to bridge this knowledge gap, allowing our partners to enter the Hosted VoIP market armed with not only a market-leading hosted offering but also with the appropriate skills to get to market quickly and to succeed in this new space”
The programme starts with a one day VoIP foundation course for those who need the basics and is then followed by a three day certified VoIP technicians course, a two-day certified VoIP engineers course and a one-day VoIP administrators course. In addition, Hipcom are also offering a one day go-to-market sales training course to assist resellers in identifying and closing Hosted IP Telephony opportunities. Tim Alexander, Channel Manager for Hipcom continues:
“All of our courses are delivered by a professional trainer whom we have engaged specifically for the purpose. We are confident that our training programme is market-leading and provides partners with all the technical skill they could possibly need – and feedback so far from the courses we have run to date has been extremely positive. We also find that we are learning from our partners on a daily basis – and as such, the training we offer is by no means a static programme. Instead it develops as new knowledge requirements are highlighted, with the answers to these technical questions being incorporated into the courses where appropriate”.
The Hipcom training has been designed to maximise the learning experience by combining a mixture of theory and practical learning into a structured approach. All of this leads to a complete certification programme which enables partners to build a comprehensive understanding of the Hipcom implementation of VoIP. Training Manager Bruce Shelton explains:
“Working in the world of IP Telephony definitely involves a somewhat different approach – as we think about the way in which data and telecommunications work together to give us a fantastic integrated communication too. Training is so important in the industry today and often involves a change in mindset – and my main objective when delivering the Hipcom training programme is to ensure that our partners get the most they can from the sessions”.
The Hipcom training programme will be continually added to and based on the experiences of Hipcom partners when dealing with real live business issues faced by their customers. The world of VoIP is an evolving, fast-paced and ever-changing environment and Hipcom are working hard to ensure that their partners really do have the skills required to maximise the business opportunity which Hosted IP Telephony presents. Darell Letton, at HipCom reseller Rosie Red Ltd. concludes:
“The Certified VoIP Technicians course which Hipcom ran in December 2005 was one of the most informative training sessions I have attended in this field. The level of knowledge which the Hipcom team demonstrated – and their ability to communicate this effectively and at an appropriate level to the target audience was impressive”.