By Michael Fair, MarketRace
TEM and VoIP what do they have in common? On the surface, other than being telecom acronyms, not much. From a current market perspective, however, I see very similar situations. Both telecom expense management (TEM) and voice over IP (VoIP) show tremendous potential for telecom agents and are regularly used buzzwords as the hottest new services in the industry.
Most channel partners that I talk to these days are wrestling with the many different factors that exist with regard to these services. They both require understanding and expertise that many traditional channel partners simply do not possess and therefore require incremental investment in talent and training. Both services are based on software and often require managed and professional services in order to be implemented. They therefore represent a deeper level of complexity for an agent to sell and implement. In addition, the service providers for both TEM and VoIP are numerous, represent unrecognized brands, often are underfunded and represent differing and conflicting business models. These services can both be sold to end users as either premise based or hosted/software as a service or ASP formats.
As a result of these highly fragmented and “noisy” markets, many channel partners are confused by the complexity and numerous vendors in the market. As such, they tend to be opportunistic versus proactive and aggressive in addressing these opportunities. Others are simply avoiding these growing markets choosing to focus on legacy services.
I see an immediate opportunity for firms that invest in understanding these services to add incremental value to their customers. These services allow agents to move up the value chain and support larger, more complex customers with differentiation. You will see continued consolidation in these markets and true leaders emerge over the next year. In addition, if you don’t have the expertise to market and implement these services, seek out partners that you can rely on to allow you to add them to your service portfolio.