As the recession draws to a close resellers will see a huge shake out in 2010 and need to adapt to prosper says Mark Seemann, Product Strategy & Development Director at Outsourcery
“With Britain (arguably) emerging from recession, the stage is set for a massive shake out of resellers. As with most recessions, the first to go are the unlucky or incompetent, but after a whole year of commercial insecurity, even good resellers have fight on their hands!
Too often I come across resellers and dealers which offer small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) expensive infrastructure that is not fit for purpose, and this needs to change. The biggest challenges facing everyone in 2010 are acquiring new customers while reducing churn, as customers are more likely to take a short-term view in an effort to reduce costs. In my view the best way to survive and then prosper is to deliver the highest quality of service and the best integrated technology, offering added value, at the right price – all of which attracts new, and makes existing customers want to stay with you. In today’s terms this means supplying Unified Communications utilising what I call ‘Hybrid Cloud computing’ – the next development in Cloud computing.
The current Cloud model is mostly black or white- you either host your applications in the Cloud or host them in your business premises but this doesn’t always work for business telephony. What is true, is that these businesses want to employ the latest Unified Communications in order to give them competitive edge and improve productivity – but without forsaking their existing business PABX assets. The Hybrid Cloud is a new model that brings together the best of both worlds and leverages the advanced functionality and scalability of Unified Communications in the cloud without needing to replace your existing PBX. This seamlessly pulls an organisation’s communications together and, as a result, makes it more efficient as many employees are working away from the office, and businesses need to find ways of communicating more effectively.
Outsourcery has its own offering, Office Communicator and the soon to launch iPBX Overlay, which forms the first part of its Unified Communications solutions and enables businesses to streamline their communications – allowing staff to communicate more effectively, thereby saving time and travel costs. Being able to offer these benefits at lower costs via a hosted exchange model will mean the channel will open up to a new SME market and increase Average Revenue per User (ARPU).
Some of the key features of Office Communicator are the presence functionality and Live Meeting. Presence works with an Outlook calendar, enabling staff to see if colleagues are in a meeting and relays that information to the person trying to contact them. PCs are also monitored, enabling managers to check on the availability of staff and check if a keyboard or mouse is being used. These capabilities mean that businesses are always communicating in the most productive way.
While the case for this type of cloud computing solution is compelling to SMEs, a common concern is the risks involved in switching business critical IT functions to an external supplier, and a recent YouGov survey, commissioned by IT assurance specialist NCC Group, found that 20 percent of IT managers believe outsourced systems and processes have less IT security than those based in-house. To address this perceived issue, Outsourcery invested over £10 million in its datacenters, and all customers are assured that the latest security measures are in place.
Not resting on its laurels, Outsourcery continues to invest in the security of its data centers to stay ahead of ever-changing threats, but the reality is that instances of data loss are extremely rare in the business sector – although resellers will need to be able to re-assure businesses of this. By partnering with Outsourcery, for example, resellers can be confident in saying that they are attuned to the growth of cloud computing and the major commitment made to it by global-leading technology companies such as Microsoft and Google.
To conclude, while Cloud computing will not change the reseller model overnight, the channel needs to gradually adopt and adapt to it now in order to prepare for the inevitable changes that are to come in the future. Looking forward, although the confidence in the economy is building and understandably caution is still the watch word, to the more forward thinking the opportunity is there for the taking!”