Parallel Lines: The channel opportunity

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Much of the coverage of unified communications (UC) has centred on its benefits to customers. And rightly so. If there were no customer benefits there would be no sales opportunities.

But there are other great angles that sometimes get overlooked, like the opportunity that UC presents to the channel to evolve its business model. These benefits have arrived at just the right time, as the channel is pulling its way – like everyone else in business – out of recession.

I’ll spare you the trumpeting but, as a 20-years young UK telecoms distributor, we tend to be a sponge, absorbing all the feedback – good and bad – that resellers, retailers and ISVs have about UC.

Convergence means bringing all the often disparate strands of telecoms under one roof – making communications services complimentary, not competing. 

It means dealers can be a single point of contact for customers as their mobile telephony requirements converge with, say, their broadband billing. Or it might mean increasing amounts of customers realising they don’t need to pay five organisations to help them communicate.  Instead, they could converge all such bills onto one piece of paper.  That piece of paper being the UC-savvy reseller’s invoice.

The worry, of course, for mobile resellers is that, yes, new opportunities are coming their way but, without the right relationships, suppliers and training, they’ll end up being forced to become a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none.

Some resellers are riding the convergence wave, as previously disparate technologies and opportunities converge. Others are feeling overwhelmed, that they must now be experts in laptops, fixed-line broadband, cloud apps and the like, as well as smartphones and airtime.

This fear is unfounded – if tackled with the right support.  Technical training is the foundation. Getting to grips with each new technology, with the distributor – Avenir or any other – acting as conduit between manufacturer and reseller.

Then there’s another level of training, covering how the wealth of 2010 communications types can be unified. What fits? What’s redundant? Which combinations will provide profitable synergies to customers?

None of this is difficult – though many will have you believe it is. But it is a) fundamental and b) ever-evolving. This layer of knowledge evolves rapidly, and we’re fully aware every session we run on it will seem laughably old hat as soon as this time next year.

Full article in Mobile News issue 457 (February 15, 2010).

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