guarantees are associated with ‘day one’ set-up only should be a give-away: if not correctly implemented, these converged networks very soon begin to fall over or experience a degradation in service that fundamentally undermines business value.
It is often one, two, three, even eighteen months down the line that problems can appear – either highlighting initial implementation mistakes or as a result of changes undertaken to the LAN environment, legal or illegal. It only takes one user to download a game onto the LAN and the entire voice network can suffer business damaging degradation.
And for the telephony resellers without adequate converged skills tracking down the source of the problem is a major challenge – and cost. For example, as one reseller discovered, following expansion the quality of voice calls and reliability began to cause concern for a customer. Yet investigation revealed nothing wrong with the voice switches or routers – nor could the ISP explain why voice traffic was struggling over the WAN.
Changing Service Dynamic
For a telephony reseller that has traditionally been required to deliver little more than 9am-6pm service, Monday to Friday, this level of complex technology assessment, evaluation and support is transforming the service dynamic – and driving out the small margins that can be attained from product sales.
Not only have telephony resellers got to step up to the plate – but they face competition from data resellers who have often already invested in this level of robust support infrastructure to support customers’ data networks.
Yet the solution currently being adopted by an increasing number of telephony resellers – namely to sell separate voice and data networks – may appear to be avoiding the complexities of convergence, but it is also ignoring the true technology benefits, which are significant when correctly applied, and mis-selling technology to the customer. And, more often than not, such solutions also fail to deliver the quality of service required – resulting in additional cost and potential business loss to the reseller.
Gartner is predicting that telephony resellers will cease to exist by 2007 unless they make radical changes to business practice. And central to that change is a recognition that firstly, this market is not the plug-and-play ‘free-for-all’ promised by the vendors. These companies simply do not have the right skills today – or the resources to develop the right skills – to adequately and profitably deliver and support business critical converged solutions.
Working with a third party expert in convergence at both implementation and support cost effectively provides the back-up resources that can transform the viability of converged technology sales. Customer problems are minimised by fit for purpose initial implementation while a 24-hour infrastructure can provide the second line support required to meet customers’ rapid response demands. Immediately the business model is transformed: customers are happier, engineers are no longer permanently camped on site at huge cost and management can refocus attention on business development.
Unlike the primary competition – the data resellers – telephony resellers have excellent customer track records and a breadth of application skills – from IVR to CRM – both of which are invaluable. Rather than waste these fundamental business assets, telephony resellers have got to change and embrace partnership – or face a slow, lingering death.
Change Or Die
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