With the UK economy continuing to suffer the effects of the recession, it is critical that businesses identify new streams of revenue in order to stay ahead of the competition. Unified comms is seen as one such area. Last week, Vodafone’s first quarter results disappointed investors but the performance of its converged One Net proposition was one bright spot. It now has 2.2 million users across small and medium sized businesses, up 40% on 2011.
In the UK, Vodafone is under pressure from O2, which targeted its O2 Unify service at small and medium enterprises in May. The operator saw a huge opportunity to cross-sell to its base of 40,000 SME customers.
The financials can be incredibly lucrative for businesses. For instance, the recent Government Public Services Network (PSN) contract is worth £17bn. A total of 14 companies including O2, Vodafone, Daisy, Everything Everywhere, Virgin Media Business and Azzurri have won places on the framework, which means they can bid to offer unified comms services for the public sector over a two-year period, with two one-year extension options.
However, it is not just the big players who are vying for customers’ attention. More and more dealers are seeing unified comms as an essential component of the services they bring to market, while distributors are also looking to build its profile among resellers. Avenir Telecom, for example, is seeking to offer a fully converged solution, launching regular workshops for its customers.
Talking Point is a new feature in Mobile where we invite major players in the industry to discuss the key issues of the moment. Here, Ruth Talbert, sales manager for Mainline’s IT channel, outlines the unified comms opportunities for distributors and resellers and looks at where the market is going.
Like the IT channel before it, the mobile communications market is evolving. Solution-based sales are vital if maximum revenue and profitability are to be achieved while offering customers a service that retains their loyalty.
According to technology research specialists Gartner, mobile technology has been rising up the list of chief information officer priorities for several years and now sits in second place. Gartner predicts that there will be four times as many mobile application developments as there are native PC projects by 2015 and that most enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet or mobile client for their email by 2016.
In other words, the general move in IT towards multifunction devices like tablets and smartphones will continue. Whatever your market, the sale of devices or airtime in isolation will mean your customers are reliant on multiple suppliers to complete their unified communication needs.
This represents a major opportunity for mobile resellers to provide a value-added, solutions-based product and service offering, but Mainline believes it’s an even bigger opportunity for IT resellers who already provide a business-critical service to their customers and who enjoy strong relationships as a result.
For IT resellers, there are important operational and commercial reasons why they should be talking to their customers about mobile data packages alongside traditional solutions. And yet many avoid doing so because of the perceived complexity of airtime agreements, tariffs and ongoing revenue structure.
Our challenge as an industry-leading distributor is to provide resellers with the skills to adapt, as well as presenting them with opportunities to grow their own business.
At Mainline, we invest time and effort to ensure resellers are provided with everything they need to remain competitive and successful. This tried-and-tested formula of systems, support, training, marketing and constant innovation provides an ideal platform from which to launch mobile solutions to the IT channel.
It’s a channel that has its own specific requirements with regards to training, proposition and approach and these vary considerably from reseller to reseller depending on resource and expertise.
Some want to sub-contract the mobile element of their business completely; some want to own the customer interface but have the post sales process and support handled by an external partner. Other resellers want ongoing training and like to be accompanied on sales visits while they get up to speed, whereas some want to integrate mobile into their corporate proposition entirely and simply require ongoing support and regular training, akin to mobile specialists.
Whatever the requirement, our role is to provide a flexible range of service propositions to our resellers and dealers that matches their level of need. It is commercially vital that IT specialists take advantage of the opportunity to further strengthen their customer relationships and secure a greater share of customer revenue – especially when this can be achieved without any significant changes to their current operational structure or areas of expertise.
• For more information on how Mainline can help, please contact Ruth Talbert on 01283 500100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.