SMEs can also benefit from UC, and it can be an incredibly lucrative market for resellers and VARs.
The average SME is far more fleet of foot than their enterprise counterparts, who may have more bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Because of this, they can often implement and push through technological change faster. However, it needs to be the right kind of technology, at the right time and for the right business model.
Identifying the opportunity
The majority of SMEs today are striving towards delivering seamless customer experiences and finding new ways for their mobile workforces to keep connected. Unified Communications (UC) offers the SME more flexible service delivery options, not to mention enabling new ways of working, higher productivity and collaboration for and amongst staff, that often wear more than one hat and are constantly on the move.
The reality of course, is that many SMEs still operate on disparate, unconnected communications technologies. This can cause a lot of frustration amongst staff. While there’s a desire to deliver connectivity, few SMEs have the in-house ability or are technologically savvy enough to identify that they need UC as a solution, not to mention what products, providers or services they will need.
This is where resellers and VARs, that are partnered with the right UC vendors, have a real opportunity. They can help SMEs revolutionise and modernise their communications infrastructure — from simple telecoms, to specialised systems that will help the SME community to better deal with both their supply chain and their customers.
Delivering the best UC for the SME comes down to understanding the complexities of the small business; what sales and communications tools they already have, whether they have been deployed at different times and whether they are actually being utilised at their full-potential. It is important to remember that these can often be streamlined to deliver something ultimately better. Resellers and VARs that themselves are SMEs may have an advantage here — as they will have a first hand experience of the challenges their potential clients face. But there is a real opportunity for everyone to become a critical and strategic business partner to the SME, by providing invaluable guidance to the client during a time of rapid transformation.
The right technology for the SME
Resellers and VARs have to ensure they understand their clients and their needs as they relate to communications. Moving to a UC platform can be very disruptive and expensive for any business if not done right, the first time. Of course, there will always be pressure from the SME, to do things faster than there is from larger organisations. That comes down to their own maneuverability and aspirations.
The ‘unified’ in UC, refers to the right technology solution being just that — a single platform from which to operate. It is therefore imperative, that the right technology solution for the SME fulfils this requirement. The platform needs to come pre-configured with basic UC out of the box, that is simple to deploy, fully scalable, and offers the easiest path to rolling out full, IP-based UC across the company’s user base. It also has to enable employees of SMEs, especially those companies that have multiple mobile workers, to access their communications solution, from wherever they are, at any time — keeping them in touch with their colleagues but also their clients and suppliers.
Ultimately, the right UC solution for the SME will be simple and yet powerful.
It is all about revenue
UC for the SME can become an important revenue stream for UC focused resellers and VARs. The right technology solution, designed with the SME in mind, can help to exponentially expand their business. By easily creating a complementary division within their business, resellers can leverage skills and service programmes to a new market segment. For those not focused on the UC market, but still serving SMEs, again an opportunity to expand their business and generate more recurring services revenue.
With UC increasingly moving into the cloud, which SMEs are rapidly adopting more readily than larger businesses given their nimble natures, resellers and VARs can also shore themselves up against the traditional ‘feast or famine’ cycle of traditional reselling.
Focus on your partnerships
Beyond understanding they can garner more revenue, resellers and VARs also have to ensure they are in the right vendor partnership. The right partnership, will not only provide the reseller with the relevant technology for the SME market, but will also help train them on the intricacies of selling UC to the SME, whilst developing their team’s skills, showing them how to sell additional services.
To build a successful SME practice resellers and VARs have to keep focused on partnering with vendors that have a vision for the future of UC and more importantly collaboration. The right partnership, through education and continuous development of products and services, will help resellers and VARs develop an effective sales narrative, which will open the doors to recurring revenues and higher margins.
UC is for everyone, not just the enterprise. Resellers and VARs have a real opportunity to help the SME community become more connected, define new ways of working and enable true collaboration across the platforms their employees choose.
Tony Smith is UK&I Channel Sales Director at Datrix communication and collaboration partner Unify