As the year begins to wind down, it is time to examine where opportunity lies for the telecom channel in the upcoming year. The 2017 Spiceworks State of IT report predicts that worldwide spending on hardware and software projects will both decrease by two percentage points while budget allocations going towards hosted/cloud-based services will increase by three percentage points. This should come as no surprise as we watch the continual rise of the virtual organization, increasing mobility of the workforce and escalation of bring your own device (BYOD), which encourages more and more organizations to turn to the cloud for the more ubiquitous and cost-effective connectivity they desire.
The growing awareness of cloud benefits will eventually prompt the sales of premise-based solutions to end. Below are just a few tips for partners who are looking towards the future, and are ready to present cloud phone systems as a viable option for their clients, placing them and their clients on the path to financial success for years to come.
Understand the benefits of the cloud
By recognizing the benefits that cloud services provide, partners have the ability to more easily solve current and growing customer problems, such as maturing technologies and resource constraints that come with premise-based solutions. Cloud-based solutions provide greater flexibility than premises-based solutions as features and functionality can be more easily adjusted based on shifting demand of the workforce, including the growing focus on enabling team collaboration.
Simply put, the cloud is third-party, off-site storage and processing of data, in secure locations called “data centers” that allow businesses to avoid the hefty, continuing capital costs of building and updating their own storage and processing capabilities. Instead, businesses can purchase, as a service, their data storage and processing, from a cloud provider, avoiding those capital costs and ensuring access to the latest storage and software upgrades.
Unlike legacy technologies, the cloud enables the use of all Web-based tools and applications, from smartphone apps to business basics, such as videoconferencing, and allows IT staff and end-users alike to change their personal settings, monitor usage and personalize their tools through flexible Web portals that work across multiple devices.
Offer customers intuitive solutions
As technology becomes increasingly complex, partners should look for a unified communications (UC) solution that is easy to use. Products that are difficult to use force partners to supply constant technological support and maintenance of the client relationship, costing them more money and time long after the sale takes place, and lowering their brand equity.
The most successful partners work with providers that offer UC solutions with the sought-after features like HD audio and video Web conferencing that extend flexibility and improve employee mobility, however are easy to use and bring clients value by accelerating the return on their investment through encouraging instant end-user adoption. Advanced UC features give organizations complete control over how customers’ calls are handled—i.e. the ability to re-route calls online, mobile twinning, which sends inbound calls to mobile and desk phones simultaneously, and auto attendants, which serve as virtual receptionists ensuring every call is answered.
In addition, when products are 100 percent in the cloud, everything is more secure with client’s data no longer on-site and vulnerable to hackers, competitors or disastrous downtime, and with encryption of calls from the handset down to the secure network. Secure, quality, easy to use products foster higher client satisfaction, meaning that at the end of the day, more revenue is generated by the partner with less to manage and service.
Invest in tomorrow by building strong client relationships today
Partners with the most successful ROIs invest in long-term client relationships, building value through both their trusted advisory role and the quality of the service providers in their portfolio. Unlike single hardware installations, cloud-based services offer opportunities for ongoing management and monitoring. Some providers offer partners the ability to access and manage all clients using a particular cloud phone system in real-time and from one dashboard offering visibility, accessibility and a depth of information.
A step further, user profiles that live solely in the cloud offer partners greater flexibility to work when, where and how they need to. This allows for the partners, clients and provider to collaborate more effectively through direct connections so that systems can be deployed faster, with less burden on the partner to supply constant technological support and maintenance on their own. In return, clients can immediately realize the return on their investment with increased efficiency from day one and less money spent upfront on training, hardware installation and maintenance or expertise to service. Over time, relationships deepen as partners provide clients with peace of mind, turning them from technology providers into trusted advisers.
Since cloud-based solutions blend communications and social elements, it is creating a new competition and innovation for hosted IP telephony and UC services providers. Partners currently selling traditional legacy systems should grow comfortable selling cloud-based solutions to their current and prospective clients to stay abreast of current trends/issues and to add additional value. Partners can ensure long-term benefits with a secure and adaptable solution, positioning their business to meet industry challenges and produce the greatest ROI.
Senior Vice President of Channel Sales, Broadview Networks
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