Table of Contents
The enterprise communications market is transitioning to a blended ecosystem of services and software-centric platforms deployed on the customer premises. The range of components that can be part of the UC stack is also expanding. Partners are vital to expand vendor reach and to foster close customer relationships needed for higher-value UC sales. Developing a framework to support a diverse partner network is essential to achieve partner-led success. Vendors must recruit partners from UC adjacencies and help existing partners expand their skill sets.
•It has been more than ten years since Internet protocol (IP) telephony lines became the majority of total telephony lines sold each year. Frost & Sullivan research finds that IP lines accounted for xx percent of all lines sold in 2014.
•A similar inflection point looms as OPEX-based cloud unified communications (UC) services seats promise to take increasing market share from the CAPEX-based customer-owned systems market each year.
•However, while demand for cloud services is rising, demand for premises-based platform support remains strong. Many organizations will require a mix; integrating customer-owned assets with cloud services is an increasing requirement.
•Partners are essential in the changing information and communications world. It is often partners that own the technology relationship with customers. Thus partners are critical to help identify and prove the value of UC for each individual customer.
•Software advancement, mobility and information technologies (IT) integration with communications technologies have shifted UC value propositions and solutions capabilities toward productivity and business efficiency.
•In selling both UC products and related services, channel education remains a key issue that determines partners success. Therefore, vendors must connect with their channels and increase their efforts on partner training and education.
•As buying patterns shift toward hosted and cloud services, vendors must help channel partners to build up their business practices and recurring revenue streams. Going forward, vendors must help channel partners to sell and support a wider range of deployment and consumption models. Access to premises-based, hosted/cloud and hybrid solutions is a necessity.
•Channels must possess broader skill sets to support the range of components that can be part of the UC stack. Vendors must create a diverse channel ecosystem comprising of network, IT, voice, integrator, and other expertise that is required to deliver integrated and flexible, yet complex solutions that are increasingly in demand.
•Sales approaches must match customer buying patterns for utility-based or higher-value solutions, both of which must allow customers to migrate to UC at their own pace.
•Many customers continue to buy applications on a utility basis. Value propositions of efficiency in terms of cost savings, cost reduction and low price resonate with these buyers.
•Upgrading or migrating a legacy customer base or utility-centric accounts to more advanced UC solutions is a priority initiative for all vendors. Cultivating the base fortifies existing vendor relationships and provides a ready opportunity for more sales of more profitable advanced solutions.
•Also critical is an emphasis on growing the customer base through new account acquisitions. On-boarding new customers enables partners to help customers move to higher-value solutions.
•Organizations further along in their UC implementations and those that employ strategic IT procurement practices are likely to recognize UC’s potential to enhance business processes and outcomes.
•Vendors must provide frameworks for partners to employ a consultative sales approach that is important for higher-value sales. Channel partners must be encouraged to understand customer business drivers in order to create UC roadmaps that deliver customers the promised benefits of more robust functionality.
•Therefore, vendors must help partners to engage with stakeholders outside of IT, such as line-of-business decision makers who are seeking solutions to increase the effectiveness of their respective business units.
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