By Mario DeRiggi
As we dive headfirst into 2014, it’s important to be aware of the direction the channel will take in the New Year. Here are some of the trends I am looking out for in 2014.
Challenges for Service Providers
There are a few challenges service providers will face as the channel industry changes and develops to meet end users’ growing technological needs. In 2014, companies will be looking to expand their channel partner programs, while also placing more emphasis on the support structures of their programs. The biggest push will likely be for providers to offer more products for companies and more training for the partners, in an effort to help them become better conduits to both the organizations and the end users.
End users see service providers and telecom partners as a resource to help increase efficiency and productivity. That being said, end users will seek out providers that can provide the best and most cost-effective solutions and products. One solution that has become a well-known hot topic in today’s IT landscape is the cloud. Although the cloud has received a significant amount of attention from the technology world, many employers are just beginning to comprehend all of the different ways the cloud can benefit their business.
The Rise of the Cloud
As end users begin to better understand the value that the cloud can provide for businesses, cloud computing will be given increased emphasis in the channel. The various cloud adoption barriers, including concerns about security and performance, are slowly but surely being broken down and providing cloud services on a consultative basis will likely be essential to removing these barriers.
Business models must take a consultative approach, rather than the traditional “sell, sell, sell" approach, because it is necessary to explain exactly how the cloud can help the customer add efficiency and productivity to their business. Through consultation, the provider is able to identify the business’ unique needs, ensuring a tailored solution to meet those desires.
The Importance of Business Continuity
A third trend we will likely see come to fruition in 2014 is that businesses will place greater importance on business continuity services. With services that prioritize the cloud and mobile devices, employees can literally work anytime and anywhere, giving them the flexibility to work from home if the need arises, or even just communicate effectively with other employees while out of the office. However, flexibility isn’t the only reason companies should have a business continuity plan.
It is necessary for companies to have a solution in place that offers business continuity not just for the sake of convenience, but also for disaster preparedness purposes. Following natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, and even the recent ice storms plaguing the northeastern United States, many offices were forced to shut down and take the financial hit because employees could not physically make it into the office. In some cases, data centers and networks were also out of service, making it impossible for employees to access data remotely. Business continuity services can redirect calls and keep a business up and running with data hosted on the cloud and not reliant on a data center. Whether the front desk receptionist calls out sick or another Hurricane Sandy hits, businesses need to be able to respond efficiently and effectively.
Overall, 2014 is an opportunity for big growth in cloud services. For this reason, it is important that service providers make the necessary investments in their channel partners, educating them on the value of the product suite as a whole, and not just the monetary value, in order to provide a true one-stop solution to their changing needs.
Mario DeRiggi is executive vice president of Broadview Networks, responsible for leading the company’s revenue initiatives, including the direct, traditional agent and wholesale channels. Prior to joining Broadview, DeRiggi served as executive vice president of national sales and service at PAETEC Communications for more than 12 years. He was a key member of the executive team that built PAETEC into the $ billion 2B telecommunications carrier that was later acquired by Windstream Communications .