Scott Riley, Director of Cloud and Hosting at GCI says that 2025 is a lifetime away in terms of technology development and that the changeover from ISDN to SIP is being driven by BT responding to the market and closing off legacy products.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): If you have an existing ISDN base, how can you migrate it without just seeing a large decline in revenue?
Scott Riley (SR): There are a couple of approaches here: firstly, ISDN replacement service. For the customer that must have that PBX on-premise for solid business reasons, you can simply offer an ISDN replacement service with SIP. You’ll need to integrate the PBX with the IP network either through the use of IP line cards (depends on the make/model/age of the PBX) or by using a gateway appliance e.g. Sonos/Audiocodes to bridge the gap. This option is reasonably straightforward and typically results in some one-off revenue for the Channel partner in hardware sales and professional services.
Secondly, Hosted VoIP Service. Alternatively, you should where possible migrate the customer completely to a Voice over IP service. Transitioning the customer to this type of service provides fantastic new functionality for the customer but also an ongoing revenue stream for the Channel Partner. Hosted VoIP products are sticky revenue and flex as the customers flexes, when they grow so do your revenues.
CBM: What practical advice would you give to a reseller planning for this change in the market?
SR: Get your target market right. The largest area of growth for SIP in 2015 was seen in the SME space, mid-market less so, and if anything Enterprise is slowing down. With Microsoft Skype for Business nibbling away at the very top end 25% of Enterprise, you can see they’ll be tackling Enterprise for a while before there are compelling Office365 Skype products for the small to mid-market segments.
I wouldn’t focus on micro businesses at 5-10 seats, you’re better off with a strong mobile offering here and unless they really need phones on desks, mobility is key here. Equally those businesses who are out in rural areas with poor connectivity are not going to get a great SIP experience right now.
The perfect opportunity size for SIP/Hosted Voice is around the 20 ISDN channel mark, there’s a lot of these guys still to target and they have great compelling reasons to move.
CBM: What services are going to be hard to replicate in a SIP World?
SR: I think it’s safe to say that SIP is an excellent product, there was initially some concern that it didn’t do everything ISDN did. So much so, that BT launched a SIP-I product, a SIP solution which literally replicated ISDN feature for feature… it had one customer. The biggest thing ISDN has going for it is a reputation for availability. It’s been very bulletproof and SIP can be too but it’s all down to that connectivity. Put the right connection in (think resilient circuits and QoS) and SIP will be fantastic. Go cheap on the connectivity and you’ll be setting up to fail. EFM 20/20 is shaping up to be a solid match for the ISDN replacement with SIP.
CBM: What part is SIP going to play in enabling new applications for customers?
SR: There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming out of WebRTC but outside of that as a specific technology, let’s just think broader. Now that your phone call is an IP call it can be anywhere on any device. This means that we can easily integrate website chat with our contact centres, we can now escalate that experience into a full voice call and we can even move it to a video call seamlessly at no additional call cost and without proprietary technology. SIP enables businesses to communicate with their customers in a whole new raft of ways meeting millennial expectations and bolting into social in a way, which ISDN never could.
CBM: What should a reseller look at when choosing a supplier, as everybody is looking similar?
SR: Suppliers need to make life easier for their Channel partners. They need to have great ordering portals, bring consistent and frequent communications, deliver excellent value for money and make the partner look great in front of their customer. Monitoring and reporting needs to spot on and above all, the billing needs to be right each month. When evaluating a supplier, these are the key areas I would investigate. Above that, it’s about the bolt-ons and the value adds, can the partner offer multiple services and take away more pain e.g. deliver the circuit, the SIP Trunk, the Hosted Voice platform and manage the Number Porting from the current service? Will they provide you with lead generation and partner with you at customer events and meetings to generate more sales?