Wednesday, June 13, 2012
After several years of discussing the benefits of UC (unified communications) with solution providers, it’s clear that many, including some of the largest MSPs, still haven’t found the right solution to offer their customers. While some indicated questionable value for their clients and others were concerned about potential competition from telecoms and cable companies, most thought the opportunity was limited.
UC is one of those unique categories in the technology field, much like the POS (point of sale) and ECM (enterprise content management) solutions. Up until a few years ago, they were offered primarily by a specialized group of professionals, experts who were often treated as step-children to the channel.
A lot has changed since those days, and the convergence of multiple communications and business applications into comprehensive organizational platforms has brought traditional channel partners back into play.
“The whole point of unified communications is that it allows the convergence of data, voice, video and mobility…it’s not just about IT,” says Pam Avilla, president of the Sierra Summit Group and chair of the CompTIA UC Community.
UC isn’t really a technology; it’s based on multiple solutions integrated to meet the unique needs of each client. There are few boundaries for those who can support multiple technologies such as VoIP, CRM, mobility, cloud computing and wireless. It’s a whole new game and everyone who can contribute their skills to building a robust solution is invited.
Building a Case and a Practice for UC
If companies throw their hat in the UC ring, will they be able to sell it? According to the recently released 2nd Annual Unified Communications Market Trends report, the demand is strong, with 80 percent of business and IT executives indicating that UC has a moderate or high value proposition. More importantly, 41 percent of respondents said their communications budgets continue to grow, often at a faster rate than their IT spending.
With this in mind, the CompTIA UC Community is forging ahead with a number of new resources and programs designed to help providers build a viable business practice using these innovative solutions. One of the group’s ongoing initiatives is to create a clearer definition of unified communications. That’s not an easy task with the number of solutions employed to meet a multitude of customer needs.
A more well-defined description of UC will make it easier for IT companies to market and sell the solutions, especially when they can explain its benefits to their customers. The completion of that initiative won’t put an end to all the confusion, but will surely garner more interest and acceptance by end-users and providers.
Expect even more advances after the UC Community gathers in mass at Breakaway 2012, where its members will tackle a number of industry-shaping objectives. Agenda items include best practices education and a review of sales processes, as well as step-by-step business transformation guides. The group will also discuss future UC research objectives, such as how to gauge the best potential business opportunities and ways to better clarify solution options.
If you’re serious about starting a unified communications practice, or taking an existing business unit to the next level, joining a peer community comprises of experts in the field is a “no-brainer.” Learn how the most successful UC industry leaders built their practices, including the obstacles they overcame in the process. Register now to attend the Breakaway meeting—Monday, July 30th from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. at the ARIA Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.
Brian Sherman is founder of Tech Success Communications, specializing in editorial content and consulting for the IT channel. His previous roles include chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and industry alliances director with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com.