This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY Magazine.
Ever since the emergence of IP telephony, folks have spent considerable amounts of time deliberating and debating over which indirect channel would be in the best position once the dust of disruption had settled and legacy systems were left behind. Would it be traditional telecom agents and master agencies, born in the days of long-distance resale? Or would integrator and equipment value-added reseller types rooted in the IT department have the leg up?
As it turns out, the shift to IP communications has hit contestants on both sides of the demarc pretty squarely in the chops. From the server room to the phone closet, the evolution of IP services has led to a revolution in end user demands and experiences. As many expected, IP-based communications and networks opened the floodgates to all manner of hosted and managed services, virtualization and the ever-broadening category of cloud computing, allowing businesses to develop solutions and applications that are integrated and specialized at levels once unimaginable.
More so than ever, implementations and service delivery tends to involve numerous moving parts and interconnected technologies, provided by multiple vendors across multiple devices and platforms, with the expectation of a consistent and coherent end user experience. Where once distributor sales managers looked for closers who could bring home the sale, it’s now sales engineers who are often seen as the most important feet out on the street. The upshot is a situation in which providers and value-added distributors of recurring communications services must work to understand more about devices and integration, while integrators and equipment dealers need to understand more about the recurring services models.
That’s not to say this new normal is inherently all challenge and no opportunity. Enabling businesses to connect with the people, applications, information and content they need is precisely how the communications industry remains relevant in an increasingly complex and fragmented environment. And voice and data services, in their real-time nature, arguably can sit at the core of a converged solution that integrates communications services with cloud capabilities.
Equally important, though expressed much less often, is the fact that cloud and managed services providers also have a lot to learn about selling through indirect channels, and this matter cannot be taken too lightly. Much the same as channel partners, business IT managers likewise are finding it difficult to keep up with the formation of cloud services, and in many cases getting there will require the type of personalized and specialized assistance that traditionally has been available only through indirect and independent distributors.
These new and ever-present realities within our continually transforming business environment were a primary impetus behind the creation of the CVx collocated within ITEXPO (News - Alert). Making its second appearance at ITEXPO East this February at the Miami Beach Convention Center, CVx within ITEXPO brings together onto one show floor the richest assortment found anywhere of industry participants from all across the communications ecosystems (from voice and date services providers to managed and cloud services providers to telecom agents and distributors to system integrators and equipment resellers) all with the same goal: expansion of distributors’ service portfolios to gain a greater share of the customers’ wallets.
For agents and value-added distributors, it’s a chance to establish fluency with cloud and managed services providers, get into their flow of leads, possibly initiate co-marketing dollars, and gain a better grasp of follow-up sales and services. For cloud and managed services providers, meanwhile, it’s an opportunity to gain a better understanding of indirect channels from the true experts in areas such as commission structure, end user education, portal construction, customer acquisition and partner support.
Indeed, CVx coming to ITEXPO, along with the Cloud Communications Summit, M2M Evolution, 4GWE, SocialCRM Expo and the Smart Grid Summit, as well as the other pavilions that are now a part of the event, is simply a reflection of the changes that are taking place throughout indirect channels and are necessary steps to maintaining relevancy and value during these transformational times. The future brought about by IP communications is here, and industry events and gatherings in which one market segment simply talks within itself are destined for the same path as TDM and the PSTN.
Martin Vilaboy is editor of Beka Publishing, publisher of Channel Vision Magazine (www.channelvisionmagazine.com) and organizer of the CVx ChannelVision Expo.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi