What an incredible year it’s been! How much more can businesses take being thrown at them? Economic communities in crisis, UK austerity measures, changing leaders, deepening unrest – you’d think it’s enough to make business leaders bury their heads in the sand. Not in the UK voice and data reseller community though – resellers have demonstrated fantastic ambition and drive in 2011, so it’s hats off to you!
A year of growing opportunity
Feedback we’ve been given from partners is that 2011 has been a very positive year both in revenue and margin terms and they’re upbeat about their expectations for the year ahead. Emerging new products in broadband and Ethernet have included FTTC and EFM, while changes in fibre Ethernet pricing have opened up new opportunities for SMEs looking for affordable exclusive connections. Indeed, an area we’ve seen grow most dramatically has been in copper and fibre Ethernet and Ethernet-led IP VPNs.
We’ve also witnessed an upturn in demand among resellers for hosted IP telephony services thanks to several factors that have gradually come together to make VoIP ‘acceptable’. At a time when businesses are looking to provide reliable communications to their staff, improve efficiency and save money, the emergence of more reliable and stable broadband, affordable copper based Ethernet and even fibre based Ethernet has made VoIP a viable proposition. Add the growing popularity of hosted services and it’s easy to see why the adoption of VoIP has increased.
Who should do what?
It’s clear from the conversations we had with resellers at Comms Vision this year that many have been proactively transforming their businesses to meet the evolving needs of their customers, including extending their product portfolios. Over the past 12 months we’ve seen partners move from a historically safe position of selling telephony services to delivering business broadband, while others have further developed their skill set in order to move on from reselling only broadband to providing customers with IP VPN and hosted IP telephony solutions.
In our experience, resellers have enthusiastically immersed themselves in the burgeoning connectivity market as IP based communication becomes the common denominator for improving business performance. In any market there are always early adopters and those that follow a little behind, and this is especially true in our market. What this points to is the need to support resellers at many levels, which is something we believe we demonstrate through our partner sales, customer services and technical support teams.
We think there’s a question mark though about the level of responsibility some suppliers place on the shoulders of resellers. Take broadband for example. Some manage multiple supplier relationships simply as a catch-all strategy. In conversations we have with new resellers, many question the responsibility that their current or previous aggregator places on them to make the right selection in terms of the underlying provider. Without clear direction and information, it can be difficult to know which of the aggregator’s services they should order for their customer. They also question whether their provider is really able to give terms that enable them to differentiate themselves. Finally, aggregating suppliers can result in greater complexity for resellers in terms of their marketing, which in turn can cause confusion among their customers. In the broadband market this will become especially more evident next Spring when, under the new rules from the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), resellers will be forced to advertise actual speeds that at least 10 percent of their customers are consistently achieving. Those using multiple suppliers, whether it is through choice or by dictation, may find this quite a challenge. There’s concern that aggregators will struggle to provide resellers with all of the tools and information they need to accurately calculate the speeds they are able to advertise.
Looking forward to 2012
Despite the current economic conditions we’ve found that the majority of our partners continue to thrive and we think this is down to their ability to differentiate themselves. Some offer specialist services, some rely on the personal touch targeting their local areas, while others provide a more complete and consultative IT infrastructure service.
Additionally, many have superb technical knowledge and can solve a multitude of end users’ issues without the need to contact our technical support team. This is a key benefit to many end users who value the fact they can speak to a knowledgeable and often local person that gives them detailed help and advice as opposed to a scripted operative based elsewhere in the world.
As companies capitalise on emerging opportunities brought about by hosted services, private networks and quality IP-based voice and video, connectivity is going to prove even more critical than in 2011. As a result they’re expecting increased demand for faster broadband services; greater interest in VoIP and SIP trunking; and a marked upturn in the number of IP VPN based solutions that they implement for their customers. To help them achieve these expectations, for our part we’ll continue to invest in network and product development as well as provide greater levels of support. We aim to demonstrate to our partners that Entanet plays an even more significant part in the UK voice and data connectivity market and is a partner in whom they can have confidence and build a solid business with.
Where are you headed in 2012? If you’re intending to strengthen your connectivity business and want help to achieve it, simply provide your details and we’ll get in touch. Alternatively, call us on 0333 101 0808, email us at email@example.com or use the contact us form below. Visit our Food for thought page, to read previous articles.
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