The platforms businesses chose at the beginning of the lockdown period are not likely to be sustainable long-term and we fully expect to see a second and third wave of buying
We encourage our partners to get on the front foot and start talking to their existing base today. If you aren’t someone else will be.
For the comms channel, nothing speaks louder of the Covid-19 driven shift to home working than the requirement for UCaaS, writes Gamma Managing Director Daryl Pile (Comms Vision Platinum sponsor), who turns up the volume on what he says are unprecedented and equivocal business opportunities for ICT providers.
As businesses have reacted and adapted to the lockdown situation imposed on us by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has never been greater attention placed on a company’s need for an agile and flexible comms infrastructure. As organisations hastily decamped employees from the office to the home, they just as quickly implemented new policies and procedures to outline their new ways of working.
Despite Digital Transformation, a buzzword that has dominated tech feeds and industry events for a number of years, the current situation highlights that many businesses still need to make fundamental improvements in their digital set-up to boost productivity and customer engagement. It’s essential that these businesses build-in the necessary operational resilience to survive this new reality.
Embrace the change in demand
While it’s safe to say that the way we work and interact will never be the same again, for most businesses this represents a challenge. Just as we are all doing within our own organisations, customers are strategising as to what the future is going to look like, and central to that will be how they communicate with each other and their customers. The channel can, and indeed should be, key to these conversations.
With the mass adoption of remote working, employees’ requirements at the office now need to be mirrored at home. While we have already seen cloud migration increase over the last few years, Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst for this acceleration to continue faster than originally anticipated.
Beyond mass adoption of flexible working and looking at the comms market broadly, Microsoft and its Teams platform has significantly disrupted the UCaaS space. Back in March, we asked our channel partner audience at our annual Roadshow if they saw Microsoft Teams as an opportunity or threat. Overwhelmingly the channel agreed, with 85 per cent of respondents stating this as an opportunity. We understand that some partners might be concerned about Microsoft bypassing the channel and going directly to customers.
However, it’s important channel partners ensure they understand the value they can bring and monetise from this relationship, through providing additional differentiation, outstanding customer service and technical expertise.
It’s in Microsoft’s interests to support the channel as a critical route to market, particularly with the blurring of the lines between traditional IT and telecoms channels and enabling active users as opposed to simply selling licences. In addition, partners have the opportunity to uncover the extent of an end users’ need for UC and offer the appropriate solution for their business. This won’t always be Teams. Many customers still have a requirement for hosted telephony, where they are utilising complementary overlay services which may sit outside what Teams can offer. There isn’t a one size fits all solution for UC. It’s essential for the partner to fully understand how the customer’s business operates, their current comms tech stack and then recommend the solution best suited to the customer.
It’s important to remember when assessing these opportunities that end customers are in a ‘problem’ mindset, as they undergo years worth of digital transformation in a matter of weeks. The platforms they chose at the beginning of the lockdown period are not likely to be sustainable long-term and we fully expect to see a second and third wave of buying. Customers are looking for the channel’s guidance and expertise to implement the best solution for their business. We encourage our partners to get on the front foot and start talking to their existing base today. If you aren’t someone else will be.
More than a port in a storm
We’ve talked for some years now about UCaaS and all the associated benefits, becoming a key component in the digital journeys organisations have embarked upon. We’d now say this is an essential component that businesses must have in order to survive and quite possibly thrive, as we navigate what will undoubtedly be some bumpy years ahead. With this uncertainty in mind, Gamma’s financial stability will provide our channel a high level of assurance for the long-term.
Whilst we are yet to experience the full economic impact of Covid, we know that many partners are critically reviewing their supply chain as the cost to a reseller, should a link in their supply go down, is huge. Beyond assurance, our financial stability has allowed us to continue product development on our second generation UCaaS platform and services. We have also continued our acquisition strategy, not just in Europe, but the capability acquisitions we have made in the form of Telsis and its contact centre capabilities, and the timely acquisition of Exactive. Both of these acquisitions have helped augment our understanding of how to help the channel monetise contact centre and Microsoft opportunities.
Our recently launched Covid-19 Recovery Package has been built to support our channel partners in identifying new opportunities as we begin to emerge from the Covid-19 period. We’ve looked at specific ways we can help partners secure new business, including new 30-day rolling contracts for our UC propositions Horizon, Collaborate and Microsoft Teams Direct Routing. This package also supports partners in the event of any end customer business that doesn’t weather this period of economic hardship. We feel that it’s only right that we share this commercial risk with the channel partner, cementing our commitment to them and ensuring our financial stability can directly benefit our partner base.
Delivering true UC
Despite the inevitable recession we are about to endure, we remain positive about the communications sector. The channel has generally shown itself to be resilient throughout periods of economic uncertainty, where business confidence is low. Our industry is robust and although the rate of growth will undoubtedly slow down, I believe the channel and Gamma will be able to ride this out.
For Gamma, the Covid-19 situation has simply solidified our belief that the future is in the cloud. Our strategy will continue to be focused on providing true UC technologies, delivered in an easy to consume fashion that will enable our partners to play their part in ensuring businesses can adapt and pivot over the coming months and years. We believe the channel will be a driving force to lead this change, and with a captive audience, now is the time to demonstrate to business leader’s tangible transformation with technology at the heart.
Comms Vision is the leading annual leadership forum for CEO, MD and CTO delegates making up the major league of the UK reseller community. Places are limited and by invitation: If you would like to join us this year, please register your interest to attend at www.commsvision.com