In my previous blog, I looked at the opportunity for telephony resellers to provide broader solutions to their customers and how this requires building and learning to support new infrastructure. In this blog, I’ll look at how rather than building up the in house infrastructure and expertise required, resellers can quickly build up their product portfolio by building relationships with other organisations.
Let’s look at the companies that can be involved in an IP enabled PBX deployment. There can easily be three parties involved: the PBX reseller, the network manager and the SIP trunking provider. However, in many ways this isn’t actually an ideal situation as it relies on three different organisations all with fairly specific sets of expertise and potentially completely different priorities.
Instead resellers need to think about longer term partnerships founded on a shared ethos and level of service. For many resellers a more attractive partnership option is working with a Data Centre provider. Partnering with a Data Centre company not only takes care of all the infrastructure and support challenges for partners, it also allows them to offer a wider range of solutions – rather than work with a high number of vendors with specific expertise and potentially conflicting interests.
In terms of technology, unified communications may be the obvious evolution from IP PBX, but for specialist telephony resellers it can introduce new challenges to overcome. For example, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), LAN switching and routing, network firewalls, wireless mobility services and integrated applications. Again, a data centre partner can help solve these issues.
The considerations for partners
Going beyond communications altogether – partnering with a Data Centre opens the doors for resellers to provide more end-to-end solutions to their customers. Not only does this mean they can sell more services, it presents an opportunity for them to become their customer’s sole IT partner. There is also a huge opportunity for a PBX reseller partnered with a Data Centre company with owned infrastructure in terms of upgrading and scaling up existing customer solutions – as well as taking on new ones.
It’s not just about making money. Resellers should be looking to serve their customers in the best way they possibly can and part of that process is by giving them as much choice as possible. If a customer is interested in upgrading its PBX system to a fully-fledged unified communications suite, they may have other outstanding IT requirements, which require a more bespoke solution that just a simple communications overhaul. Working with a Data Centre partner means the reseller can give their customer a range of different options, which may be more cost-effective and provide solutions to other existing issues. This is where the reseller can become more of a trusted partner and advisor to its customer and a one-stop shop for all of its IT requirements.
Entering a Data Centre partnership is a major decision for any reseller organisation to undertake. The selection process needs to go beyond ensuring the Data Centre has the right specification though. Apart from anything else resellers need to ensure that Data Centre partners match up with their own service levels. Data Centre partners need to provide an on-site support team so this needs to be someone who understands the needs of a partner and its customers. There needs to be a common vision in how to deliver good customer service because the data centre partner is potentially going to be meeting and dealing with the actual customers.
To gain the best value out of a Data Centre partnership, resellers need to work with a company that can support additional services to the ones they currently provide. For example, a telephony reseller should consider whether its potential Data Centre partner can support services such as colocation and cloud. This will allow them to deliver a broader service offering, increase revenues and margins, upsell services into existing customers and attract new ones.