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LANTelligence’s CEO on Channel and Contact Center

After a short conversation with Martin Tracey, CEO of Unified Communications Solutions Provider, LANtelligence, we decided to do an interview to share some of the points we were discussing.

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RAD: The Telecommunications/UC space is changing. It is a lot different than when we both got in during the heyday of the 90s. How will these changes affect channel partners?

CEO: The evolution of Cloud offerings in the UC space is changing the fundamental structure of the type of partners that are required for a successful channel. The classic VAR’s face the challenge of a major change in becoming solution focused, not product focused. This also entails a change in the type of technical talent required within the VAR’s to execute on their new solution offerings. A market that for more than a decade had only 5 to 10 top providers, now as the shift to cloud continues, has 30 or more providers with UCaaS offerings. With this, VAR’s that navigate the change will have to focus on providing solutions that incorporate integrations to other work flows, CRM’s and related solutions. On the positive side, it does allow VAR’s to truly become solution providers by having the ability to easily offer multiple Cloud solutions, finding the best fit for each prospect.”

Tracey continues, “As a result of these changes, many of the providers turned to alternative channels like Master Agents and Value Added Distributors (like CDW and Jenne). This opened a larger market reach than the classic VAR channel, but has compounded the problem of finding resources to deploy and support these solutions as they grow in numbers and scope.”

“As we sit today there is a lot of uncertainty in the channel and lots of scrambling for solutions. Channel partners that can adapt and overcome will have plenty of opportunity and the re-occurring revenue streams should provide many opportunities for growth beyond that of the traditional VAR.”

“What is really needed to succeed is the technical talent and execution of a top VAR, with the exponential sales growth opportunity of a channel like the Master Agents built for carrier services.”

RAD: What have you seen that is a positive indicator?

CEO: “We see growing demand from the providers for an answer to their execution and support issues. The demand for organizations that specialize in UCaaS/CCaaS and have the required skilled engineers to successfully design, deploy and support these solutions will see tremendous opportunity. We also see growing demand for technology in the business space that can improve companies’ ability to compete in their markets. We see increase value put on UCaaS and CCaaS solutions as a key for organizations to succeed. It opens lots of opportunities for those organizations that are ready to take on the challenge of these changes.”

RAD: How do you see the Contact-Center-as-a-Service space evolving?

CEO: “I see the CCaaS space evolving ahead of the UCaaS space. Contact Centers are often the heartbeat of an organization and its key factors – revenue and service. The more organizations realize that Contact Center productivity is a driver for their business, the more demand we see for the business applications/features to be built in to the Contact Center solution. The line between CRM and CCaaS is blurring as more companies demand integrated access to multiple communication channels and data sources. And today it’s true not only for bigger business players but also for SMBs.”

“There’s a very limited number of competitive premise-based Contact Center offerings in the small-to-medium market. Cloud solutions are stepping forward bringing top-level Contact Center functionality to this market along with the reliability, scalability, continuous software advancement and next to zero hardware requirements. Smaller contact centers now can afford to operate on the same level as business monsters with less risk and more opportunities to grow.”

Tracey adds, “We see some big SaaS CRM platforms presenting themselves as Contact Centers to play as CCaaS solutions but they are still lacking lots of expected Contact Center functions and they lack the ability to route interactions from multiple channels effectively. They face a step climb to catch up to the rapidly expanding feature/application sets of specific CCaaS solutions. At this point in time with some many of the CCaaS players offering integrations into these big SaaS platforms and having open API’s for continued advanced integrations. It just makes more sense for CCaaS to be integrated into complete CRM than the opposite.”

Tracey remarks, “When it comes to the channel, CCaaS business is a great source of MRR revenue. The average CCaaS deal will have a Top Line of 4x to 5x in comparison with UCaaS, and it is still a field with fewer players. MSPs, VARs and Agents who see the writing on the wall about declining top line revenue in their carrier business should really start considering CCaaS as an alternative.”

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