Siemens Looks Back and Forward

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Tony Smith, sales director, indirect channel, Siemens Enterprise Communications, says that for Siemens Enterprise Communications, 2011 was a year of building the platforms for success in 2012 and most notably developing a mid-market proposition.

“We launched some of our key products in April including the new OpenScape Office LX, and MX v3, which gave us the time to work with and develop the channel and ensure we had a strong sales pipeline in the build up to the end of our financial year. This has provided the springboard to head into 2012 with up-skilled, energised channel partners and a technologically advanced solution set.

It has still been a challenging year for the wider market as end users are employing a “if it isn’t broke don’t replace it” strategy. However, we do have plenty of examples of businesses recognising the value of advanced communications technologies and the benefits they can bring their organisation.
Despite such a tough climate, there have still been plenty of success stories from those that can up-sell and deliver that added value proposition.

The Cloud has definitely been the buzz word for 2011 and making it a reality is driving channel transformation. However, there is still a lot of ‘hot air’ in the industry and it is the responsibility of the vendors to de-mystify by clearly communicating the services and solutions available, and how we can help the channel gain the right skills to sell cloud based solutions successfully.

This year Siemens Enterprise communications partnered with InContact to do just this, exclusively reselling the inContact cloud contact centre portfolio under the OpenScape Cloud Contact Center brand in the UK. Based on the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) contact centre platform it is designed to simplify the agent interface, streamline contact centre management and improve the customer experience.

With an increasing range of tablets and devices fuelling the consumerisation of IT, supporting the BYO phenomenon has been a huge trend. Earlier this year our CEO Hamid Akhavan summarized the consumerisation of the enterprise under the 5 megatrends – flexible deployment, reliability and security, social collaboration, the user experience and seamless mobility. These megatrends have fuelled mass technology change and combined with the right security layer, they will accelerate further to support cost effective employee mobility.

With the shift to IP networks and UC, aspiring, growth-minded businesses need an end user-focused channel partner that can support them with wider options than to simply replace their current reseller or vendor-supplied solution.

Siemens Enterprise Communications is also supporting change by expanding our portfolio capabilities to offer solutions to a larger market base of above 500 users. This requires a different go-to-market strategy, but one our smaller channel partners can adapt to as the technology upgrades require minimum up-skilling for the channel.

2011 has been focused on creating the right solution set and it is positive to see this independently recognised by industry analysts Gartner Inc. within the 2011 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications (UC). This positioning has been based on the company’s completeness of vision and ability to execute, giving solid support to ratify our claims.

Our focus is on creating a solution set specifically designed with the SMB and mid-market in mind, as opposed to shoehorning or shrink-wrapping a product made for a larger organisation. Combined with integrated web and video collaboration, growth focused organisations can be better placed to support mobility and cost efficiencies.

We have developed training programmes specifically designed to educate our resellers on how to sell the value proposition around the product to clearly demonstrate not just the product capabilities but the tangible end user benefits.

What will 2012 bring?

Cloud, BYO and mobility will continue to grow and be embraced in 2012. At present, across the industry the cloud and UC are both under sold and under utilised aspects of the market. The economic climate means that we are still very much in a market that is hesitant to make changes and demands clear ROI. Rather than simply prevaricate, this situation demands that vendors work with the channel to maximise training programmes and up-sell solutions to truly realise the transformation qualities available from UC – 2012 will be the year we see this come to fruition.

From Siemens Enterprise Communication, the channel will see a series of strategic solution developments that will embrace the dominant trends, offering a huge opportunity for the channel to execute these upgrades and ensure the end user benefits.

Challenges will be similar to those experienced throughout 2011 including a continued market focus on ROI and an unswerving attitude amongst CIOs of the need to tighten belts on cost expenditure.

In addition, the London Olympics is set to cause considerable disruption to work patterns, and this is something we aim to tackle by encouraging businesses to facilitate employee mobility. By enabling employees to work anywhere, any time and from any device, disruption can be avoided!