What the UC Channel Is Looking For
Among other things, we found that a significant number of channel partners are unhappy with their relationships and are looking for new vendors to align with.
UCStrategies recently conducted some extensive market research to understand what the UC channel wants and needs. The findings are helping us prepare for the UC Summit 2012 to be held in La Jolla California May 6-9, 2012.
Prior to this, we had a good understanding of what the vendor community and Summit sponsors were looking for--find new channel partners and help educate the consultant community about their products--but we wanted to get a better understanding of the current needs and expectations of the channel attendees. However, this research helped us refine and deepen that understanding.
Here are some of the questions we asked, along with our findings from the feedback:
Which vendor's products are you authorized to sell?
Not surprisingly, the majority of resellers participating in the survey (just over 50%) are authorized to sell Avaya, Cisco or Microsoft, while 30% resell IBM, NEC and ShoreTel products. That was followed by 10% that work with Aastra, Alcatel-Lucent, and Mitel; just under 10% currently resell Siemens and Toshiba.
Are you interested in adding to or changing one of your primary vendors (like those listed above)?
Over 80% of participants answered "yes" to this question. This shows an important shift in the market. From my viewpoint, this signals a change in the way resellers, are looking for new revenue opportunities. While we expected this number to be high, it was way higher than we had anticipated. To be frank, this indicates that a significant number of channel partners are unhappy with their existing partner relationships and are looking for new vendors to align with. There are many vendors that could be welcoming those channel partners with open arms.
Are you interested in expanding your business in the social business solutions area?
No surprise here: over 90% answered "yes". This is clearly an important industry trend and one that vendors and resellers need to be planning for. Social business is an area we'll be focusing on at the Summit. Channel partners need to understand how social fits into their business models and how to properly position it in their portfolios.
When asked about vertical markets, healthcare and manufacturing lead the way, followed closely by government, finance, and education. UC has been most successful in these areas, so we were not surprised to see those markets lead the way. Of course, manufacturing is a very broad category ranging from construction to schools supplies, to pharmaceuticals, to food products to software systems, so there’s plenty of UC opportunity there.
The importance of the cloud was also a hot topic for the UC Summit 2011. When asked about plans for reselling hosted or cloud-based UC in the next year, we found that:
* 60% are currently reselling some type of hosted or cloud-based solutions,
* 27% are looking to identify specific vendors’ services to resell, and
* 13% are considering but have no specific plans.
It is interesting to note that no one indicated they have "No plans" to resell hosted services next year. Of those currently reselling hosted solutions, over 60% are selling A/V conferencing and hosted telephony, with 50% selling IM/presence and hosted contact center, and around 25% selling e-mail, knowledge worker tools, and collaborative workspaces. The survey also showed us that the resellers are keenly interested in:
* learning about how to best sell mobility solutions,
* how to deal with a reseller financial model that is shifting based on UC,
* comparing the architectural options for UC,
* building a migration strategy for legacy customers, and
* how to build the business case for both premise-based and hosted UC solutions.
From our survey, it is clear that the channel is going through a great deal of change and is looking for guidance. While we plan to address many of these issues at the UC Summit 2012, the vendor community also needs to address these issues to help their position in this industry going forward. I covered some of the challenges in a recent post entitled, "The UC Channel Challenge", but a lot of work remains to be done.
Together with vendors, channel partners, consultants, and end users, UCStrategies is working to help the industry move forward. That means providing customers with the best ways to access the solutions that will generate real ROI, and providing guidance to the channel partners that are striving to bring these products and services to these customers.
If you're a vendor, channel partner, or consultant, we hope you'll join us in La Jolla in May.