Redefined reseller roles reinvigorate UC channel
The self-service cloud era may seem like a threat for the reseller channel, but could be a long-overdue opportunity
The unprecedented acceleration in adoption of cloud communications has seen the large unified communications platforms enable home working at scale but, in contrast to previous generations of offerings, UCaaS and CCaaS propositions are delivered in a simplified manner. These out-of-the-box solutions take little account of the specific needs of enterprises and have been designed to address as much of the market as possible with a core set of capabilities rather than to provide the best possible fit for an enterprise’s needs.
Resellers and the channel are finding their market place shrinks as customers adopt out-of-the-box products yet resellers provide substantial value through putting together tailored packages of capabilities. Their understanding of their customers and their local markets means many of the concerns about force-fitting an off-the-shelf solution can be allayed and specific services, charging models and applications can be packages by the resellers.
“I do think we’ve moved into a world where everything is cloud-enabled and cloud-first and this means resellers have to redefine and reinvent themselves,” confirms Tony Martino, the Chief Executive Officer of Tollring. “However, the reseller channel is highly resilient and resellers have gone through lots of changes over the last 20 years. Tollring is a 30-year-old business and if we were not continually re-inventing ourselves in terms of the solutions we’re offering to the market and the channel, we wouldn’t be here so the same is true for resellers and their reinvention of the role in this new era.”
Traditionally, resellers generated revenue based on selling, building and ongoing maintenance of solutions and while some of this can now be addressed by out-of-the-box cloud solutions, there is still a need for customisation and service.
“You can get something off-the-shelf but the ongoing customer interactions and the solution that is required are challenging to manage,” explains Martino. “Choosing what will be best is still complex and resellers have been strong at this during the pandemic. Very rarely are off-the-shelf solutions fit for purpose immediately, so depending on where you play, you have to consider how to bring best-of-breed solutions back into the conversation.”
For Martino, this presents an opportunity for resellers to emphasise their roles as trusted providers to customers in a specific industry or region. By demonstrating that they understand the customers’ requirements, they can prove their value and then streamline product selection, roll-out and adoption for customers. This approach is already being highlighted by resellers who are bringing their expertise and experience alongside cloud products.
“We’re seeing an evolution of how resellers take services out to customers,” he says. “We’re being asked to integrate the customer journey and analytics and to be able to fit into the journeys the resellers are offering to their customers. Providing customer service is more complex than ever before and resellers that understand the pain points of their customers have an excellent opportunity to prove their value.”
Martino gives the example of a plumbers’ merchant in the UK that moved its communications into the cloud but did not want to lose its traditional interaction points in the sector. Typically, plumbers call local distributors to order products but they want to do this directly without going through a centralised system. An important challenge is to make that possible and simple so calls are not missed and customers can communicate in the way they choose to.
“For resellers, it’s now about how you interact with your customers and apply the right solutions to meet their needs,” says Martino. “You can’t do this with off-the-shelf solutions alone because you need to understand the mechanics of how unified communications needs to work for the customer’s business. Our call reporting and recording solution, iCall Suite, can be integrated into solutions that allow our resellers to take a rounded offering out into the market and offer much more than an off-the-shelf solution ever could.”