Here, Wildix CEO Steve Osler advances his strong belief that value creation will remain the biggest differentiator in an ever evolving comms market.
And he explains why the rise of integrated and value added services will continue to widen the gap between one dimensional resellers and in-demand MSPs.
Wildix resellers are witnessing a 400 per cent hike in UCaaS revenues which Osler attributes to the effectiveness of the vendor’s training programmes and its channel-only opex-first approach. To build on these successes he aims to create more opportunities for partners by positioning Wildix as ‘the first unified communications and collaboration platform for the channel’. “We want MSPs and SIs to come to us for flexible solutions that integrate with almost anything,” he stated. “From there, they can build their own value through add-on services.”
Osler noted that Wildix has a number of ‘add-on’ products and services coming to market including x-hoppers, a retail-ready solution currently undergoing beta testing via partners with the full version due for release in July. The release of x-bees, a ‘complete sales offering’, is also pipelined for launch later in the year. “This integrates with Gong.io and delivers calendar support, with full CRM integration for automated data entry to drive sales team effectiveness,” added Osler. “However, we’re not changing our approach to the market and we’ll always be 100 per cent focused on the channel.”
According to Osler, businesses would be doing themselves a big favour by constantly reinventing their modes of operation, including certain channel players who he says would be wise to move with the times. “The legacy PBX market is dying,” he commented. “Even though some vendors appear to be shoring up their share of that market with acquisitions, that space is shrinking thanks to the sheer flexibility and redundancy of cloud-based systems. Partners simply cannot afford to be left behind.
“That said, there will still be a need for legacy systems, in the same way that some people need cassette tapes or want vinyl LPs. But that market will shrink until it’s considered niche. So those who provide goods without thinking of the additional value they offer customers will wither away.”
There will still be a need for legacy systems, in the same way some people want cassette tapes or vinyl LPs
Osler claims that reseller numbers are certain to ‘die off’ in this market because just offering UC means missing out on the evolving dynamic between resellers and their customers. “You’re not showing the value you offer,” he added. “There’s no value in offering a UC&C solution and nothing else. And if customers can get everything they need from a single source it’s likely they’ll bring everything under one umbrella, especially smaller customers without the time nor energy to manage multiple contracts.”
Osler believes that the biggest opportunities will be realised by MSPs that fully empower their people, primarily because IT solutions are becoming more complex – too complex for many internal IT departments to handle. “As a result, those who show exactly what their added value is will make three times that of a reseller,” commented Osler. “This is achieved through targeted training and support that helps partners to discover the value they can provide in solving customer pain points.”
In a broader context, Osler says that today’s leadership priorities should focus on the shortage of qualified people in the tech industry. “You can’t let good people go, yet many businesses are dropping employees as if there was a huge talent pool available,” he stated. “It’s far better to prioritise employee retention through great development programmes, regular training and a good working environment.
“When you have a massively expanding industry, one that’s gone from being only for businesses 20 years ago to being integrated into every aspect of life – home, business, industry, entertainment and socialising – you need to refresh perspectives and investment to get the right people in the right place.”
In the short-term Osler expects staffing costs to increase as demand for skills remains high, with implications for cash strapped channel firms. “For MSPs and SIs that’s going to prove a big challenge, especially those working on fine margins,” he added. “Moreover, the insistence on maintaining connections to physical PBXs may prove unsustainable due to the substantially increased costs of travel, staffing and accommodation.
“Against this backdrop, the primary opportunities for growth include choosing vendors carefully, expanding business offerings, providing added value beyond simple solutions, grabbing the cloud communications market and not being held back by legacy capex systems.”