The Unified Communications (UC) market is maturing, and not before time. The move to selling "business productivity" solutions rather than glorified outsourced application management is resonating with companies who see the benefit of bringing all of their communications needs into one integrated and cost effective "bundle".
The fact that service providers have previously struggled to bring all of their communications offerings into one coherent package can be attributed to a number of factors, chief among them the difficulty of reconciling fixed and mobile voice & data, email, Internet, hosting etc. into one easily deliverable, saleable and billable package. Service providers are used to selling the basics: connectivity, quality of service and cost, not what enhancements they can bring to a business. And without a clear ‘value proposition' IT departments have been reticent to take control of UC for fear of disrupting other business applications.
Of course, selling the benefits rather than the products is nothing new to the wider IT industry so perhaps partnering with application vendors - with marketing teams far more used to solution selling - will accelerate the model?
The benefits to this approach are clear; bundled sales lock customers in, reducing churn and improving the ability to grow revenue per customer. The latter is far easier if you're adding to a "suite" of services rather than introducing individual applications. If operators can offer the basic connection their customers are looking for, but the ability to offer and upsell additional services at the flick of a switch, they're in a much stronger position than if they were to try to sell over the top services at the same time as the connection.
Finally, overall customer satisfaction is likely to increase especially as higher grade services (such as business-class MAPI e-mail) can be introduced far more easily.
In short, less churn and increased customer satisfaction and revenue. What's not to like?
- Alex Danyluk, industry marketing director for the Communications Sector