Opinion: Assessing and recommending solutions for customers
- 03 March, 2014 07:06
In my previous article we examined some of the key trends driving an increase in collaborative workplaces and what opportunities exist for resellers when seeking to capitalise on this trend. In particular, we focused on the role unified communications (UC) plays in this space.
Now I’d like to take a more in-depth look at what resellers need to do at the consultative pre-selling stage to best assess, and make recommendations on, what the right solution may be for a potential customer.
First up, customers need to look at the bigger picture macro-economic trends impacting both their company and industry. Only then will a reseller be able to analyse, with confidence, what are some of the key pain points they may be trying to overcome. If we take the agriculture industry as an example, the importance of staying connected to remote and internatonal customers to stay ahead of global competitiors is paramount.
Resellers then need to take a broad approach, and think about the business landscape a specific customer operates within. With the vast majority of New Zealand businesses operating with 20 staff or less, this lends itself to being better suited to Video-as-a-Service (VaaS).
IT trends – customer and business
The technology requirements being demanded by customers are constantly evolving, and right now the message is that customers want to communicate and collaborate anywhere, from any device – via a web browser, on a smartphone or tablet. Similarly, with major infrastructure improvements well underway in the form of the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative, we can also expect an increase in businesses adopting new IT trends such as the consumerisation of IT and BYOD, through increased bandwidth and network availabilty.
Having looked at the bigger picture, it now makes sense to look at the micro level – the evaluation requirements for resellers to undertake at the consultative pre-selling stage of a customer engagement:
1.Customer pain points: Whether your customer’s pain point is cost reduction, support for a more mobile workforce, sharing content securely, or simply to improve competitive advantage, knowing this is essential to making a tailored recommendation.
2.Business priorities: Trying to determine what business priorities your customer might have (such as HR and recruitment, or better global collaboration through content sharing) and the users this will most likely support (office based workers, mobile workers) will help you bring a use case to life and pinpoint the best solution for your customers’ needs.
3.UC strategy: Understanding if a customer has an existing UC strategy or if they are looking to deploy one for the first time, is also critical. This will determine whether an organisation should invest in additonal on-premise or hosted UC solutions. Resellers should develop specific security and identity management assessment services to help customers on their UC journey.
4.Existing IT infrastructure: Being able to deploy an open-standards, vendor agnostic UC platform that has the highest levels of interoperability is a key business driver for many customers. Understanding what existing IT systems are already in place and how a broader UC strategy could complement this is also key.
5.Professional services: Your customer has deployed a UC platform, so what now? Educating customers about what training and support services are available to get the most from their UC investment creates a great opportunity.
6.Change management: Often times an organisation will invest heavily in a new technology, but doesn’t effectively manage the change this brings with it. Working with customers to develop a successful change management plan for UC deployments will also be very important.
Whether an organisation wants to start small with a hosted UC deployment that can be scaled over time; or if you are working with a large distributed enterprise seeking to update an existing UC investment to deliver immediate costs savings, the opportunities for resellers are endless.
Well-prepared resellers that are willing to take the approriate steps to evaluate and assess the right UC solutions for their customers upfront, are more likely to get the most return from these relationships in the long-term.
Next week's article will discuss building mobility into unified communications solutions.
Oscar Trimboli is partner and channel director for Polycom A/NZ. Oscar is responsible for leading Polycom's channel network with go-to market strategies and initiatives to help partners create competitive differentiation and build their businesses.