Partners say disaster recovery also is a key selling point for cloud services like data backup and recovery. "Every channel partner ought to be selling into health care because every single [provider] needs a place to back up data to," said Kyle Miley, president and CEO of reseller Sonoran Integrations.
Michael Shonholz, telecom services manager at value added reseller CDW, said more customers are requesting software and infrastructure as a service. "A year ago, no one was asking for those as-a-service options, and three years ago, they weren't even available," he said. "We are seeing more customers wanting to not just evaluate traditional, on-premises solutions, but also to see that quote 'as-a-service.'"
PBXs. Chances are good that your health care client needs to upgrade its PBX. "A lot of the health care providers haven't touched their PBXs ... in 10-plus years, sometimes 20-plus years," said Dave Halpin, director of carrier services at distributor Black Box Network Services. Switch your client to SIP trunking and an IP PBX, and you'll have created a scenario ripe for mobility and video, the foundations of a unified communications (UC) platform.
Mobility. Mobile technology, encompassing networks and devices, will comprise a $23 billion revenue opportunity worldwide by 2017, according to a February 2012 GSMA report. North America is expected to account for $6.5 billion of the total. To that end, channel partner sources agree that health care customers are demanding mobility — from secure WANs to tablets and smartphones. Most VARs are handling the wireless networking and UC software components. For them, selling the tablets and smartphones often does not make sense due to slim margins and added complexity. "It opens doors but the money in it isn't there for us," Halpin said. "We're relying on our [wireless partners] to do that part. We don't want to handle the back office and capital outlay." Instead, VARs seem to do best with upgrading infrastructure and enabling it to support mobility, as well as video, voice and presence. For Sonoran Integrations, wireless networking, phone systems and Wi-Fi access for health care firms are key pieces of its business model.
Telecom agents tend to focus on device procurement and oversight, since many have contracts with carriers and long have offered communications life cycle management services. "We talk about [mobility] in terms of BYOD, and enablement and management," said Richard Murray, president of master agency CarrierSales. "Every doctor has a smartphone, and what are these IT directors going to do to manage that ... and keep it secure?" The mobility discussion with health care clients must go deep into how employees' Android and iOS devices are being managed — who sets permissions, where smartphones and tablets can be used within a facility, whether those devices can be taken off-campus and so on. But a number of health care organizations are too busy or don't have enough IT experts to deal with such questions, and that's where partners get to shine.