Finding a Channel-Centric Formula

Gary Bennett Enghouse Smile

The past few years have seen seismic shifts in the customer interaction and communications landscape. Here, Gary Bennett VP Sales, EMEA Enghouse Interactive, talks about the need for partners to find the right path in the age of Digital Disruption.

The market is rapidly re-aligning. Many distributors, resellers and service providers are re-examining their business models to protect their margins and revenue streams. We are seeing a shift to both public and private cloud alongside a move to digital customer service and to interactions moving through automation, or self-service models.

This kind of disruption creates winners and losers across the channel. Some see a threat, others an opportunity. Those that continue to hold on to traditional models and rely on legacy skills and reference-ability of deployments in that legacy world will inevitably struggle.

Today, we are seeing many resellers, particularly in the mid-size range that have historically focused on legacy PBX, diversifying into new vertical domains, cloud-based infrastructures and solutions areas. To succeed, they’ll need to concentrate on working with vendor partners to add real value by delivering different application layers on top of the core product proposition to create a richer solution for the client.
Vendors have the opportunity to play an important role in helping the Skype for Business resellers and others who have previously had limited skills in the contact centre environment, travel to this new world; start developing compelling new Skype for Business propositions, and win business by building applications on top. In my view, the vendors that will succeed in this new environment are those best able to work collaboratively with their partners

To any partner looking to make the transition to this brave new world of communications capability, my advice is don’t delay. In 18 months’ time, there will be numerous communications and contact centre resellers who will be able to point to many successful Skype for Business deployments and will therefore have ‘stolen a march’ on their more hesitant peers.

It’s also important that the chosen solution is multi-platform, so that the customer can make a decision to move to Skype on its own merits, safe in the knowledge that the investment is being fully protected.
In making the transition, it’s key they choose the right vendor partner. Resellers should be looking for vendors with market expertise but also the experience to capitalise on the pace at which Skype for Business deployments are moving at the moment to drive fast time to value.

Resellers also need to ensure they are focusing on vendors who are not oversubscribed in terms of UK coverage. This helps to guarantee a low level of channel conflict, enabling channel partners to differentiate themselves in front of customers, and to preserve their margins.
Enghouse has structured its EMEA partner programme to avoid this kind of conflict. 99% of our business is driven through the channel so we don’t compete with our partners and resellers head on. Five years ago, we had around 230 channel partners. Today we have less than a tenth of that number. However, we have retained a portfolio of quality partners which have been tiered in terms of size, reach, revenue and capability but also specialisation, whether horizontal around contact centre or real-time or vertical around housing or finance, for example.

Added to that, we have a rich and varied product portfolio encompassing contact centre, quality management and speech analytics solutions, enabling partners to drive higher levels of margin on an overall sale and helping them achieve sustained success and value.
Ultimately, any channel partnership is about working together collaboratively to achieve common goals. At Enghouse, our whole philosophy is channel-centric. We may be focused on producing high-quality software closely customised applications but that’s only brought to life and only delivers true value thanks to the work done by our partners in that last mile and in execution. However good the vendor software, it will have little commercial value without the reseller taking the solution to market and promoting the vendor to customers. This kind of collaboration is core to our vision at Enghouse. It’s a vision that has paid dividends for us up to now and one which we are confident will continue to do so as we look ahead into the future of this exciting new digital, cloud based contact centre world.