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Nimans Distributes UC Message

Posted on 12/08/2011

Distributors have a pivotal role to play in driving the UC market further forward, according toTom Maxwell, Dealer Sales Director at Nimans. He says education, training and impartial advice are crucial factors in encouraging more reseller adoption especially at the smaller end of the industry, based on a partnership approach.

“There’s still a long way to go, but progress is being made on a steady basis as UC trends continue to filter down from the enterprise sector,” said Tom.

He says resellers face a dilemma of which route to take to fully exploit UC potential – where partnering with a ‘rival’ Data VAR is one option to pool knowledge and resources.

“I think many resellers need to look at how they best approach their future market strategies. They could partner with vendors and align themselves with companies that have expertise in areas they don’t, say Data VARS. They could also work with distributors that can introduce them to supplier relationships that they can leverage to manage their client base,” he pointed out.

“Ultimately they either defend their customer base which may result in a fight they can’t win based on a declining margin. Or the other way is to embrace their client base and attack new opportunities by bringing on new skills sets and training, by developing and adopting solutions which will complement what they do, rather than replace what they do.”

Tom says some resellers are teaming up with other dealers and sharing mutual interests. “It’s a challenge but it may be beneficial. It is happening, but the key is to find the right partner.”

He emphasised: “Distributors more than ever are offering a broader range of solutions and services to help resellers make that leap. Here at Nimans for example with a training academy and network services division, based on independent advice. We sell network cloud-based services, PBX infrastructure, applications and all the associated end points. We tick all the UC boxes and are in a very strong position to partner, develop and help resellers make that sea change.”

Tom indicated: “From my perspective the UC message is much stronger in the enterprise sector especially where IT departments manage both communications and data. There’s been some very big roll outs and that’s where the highest volumes remain. It’s where the market has been for the last few years.

“The message has travelled down to the mid market, say 100 plus users, where there’s a consolidation of take-up, especially involving mobile devices, integrated into their existing infrastructures. This has triggered a major rise in sales of end points such as IP phones and Microsoft OCS and Lync optimised products such as headsets. There’s an increasing number of resellers adopting either Microsoft or open source platforms that deliver UC through either a software or server-based application in addition to their traditional PBX bases.”

Tom highlighted: “One dealer we saw the other week has demonstrated their commitment to UC by developing an online video which sits on their website. This explains the basics of UC and promotes the many benefits of a co-ordinated and integrated communication infrastructure such as improved productivity and cost savings. It’s a dealer that traditionally has always operated in the SMB space selling PBX technologies. This is a good illustration of how dealers are spreading the word about UC. However in general UC is still very much in it’s infancy at the SMB level.”

Tom says if resellers have the skills set and competence to look after servers and associated network services, they are in a strong position to take on Data VARS that have traditionally managed those areas.

He feels it is important for resellers to demonstrate the customer benefits of UC, where return on investment can be generated in two ways – consolidation of equipment and networks into one converged solution – combined with greater efficiency and productivity through applications such as presence and video conferencing over e-mail.

When asked if UC is the ‘real deal’ he has no doubts that the technology is here to stay. “You’ve only got to look at the volume of business we’ve generated with IP handsets over the last two years. It’s gone from a few hundred per year into thousands each month. That’s a significant sea change. The advent of hosted and Cloud-based solutions which are ideally suited to UC, are further accelerating demand.”

Tom concluded: “There’s an increasing number of new entrants into the communications channel that are coming from either a networks perspective, selling cloud-based services or Data VARS that are selling UC solutions based on servers. The momentum is too great to ignore as we move ever closer to true convergence.

“For me there needs to be a balanced approach. The PBX market remains strong but resellers need to embrace UC and have a broader portfolio. Hosted and server-based UC applications are gaining ground and perhaps next year we will see their market share move into double digits for the first time – followed by perhaps up to a third or a quarter of the market in a year or two.”

eCommerce by: Cohesion Digital