by Louie Hollmeyer, 121 Marketing LLC
The convergence of IT and telecom has changed the landscape of telecommunications. In fact, the term “telephony” may be dying a slow death. Today, we’re primarily talking about “communications”… “IP communications.” Taken further, in the current environment, voice is just another application running on your network. This network convergence—voice and data—has opened a whole Pandora’s Box of services and solutions that enhance workforce collaboration and productivity.
More, More, More
With more choices, a more complex environment and more providers, choosing the right telecom services has become even more difficult than ever before. Matching the right solution, provider, and price all at once can be a moving target month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter. Fortunately, there are consulting firms that solely focus on telecom, doing great work on behalf of client’s day in and day out. These boutique consulting firms, sometimes referred to as “agents,” are an inch-wide-and-a-mile-deep in telecom specifically. They understand the players and their offerings, and can accurately align a solution set for you.
Got Your Back
As opposed to direct sales representatives, telecom consultants work for you. They are solution-agnostic. Their primary concern is the long-term relationship with you. This is how they get paid. Thus, they match the right solution at the right price for your current and future operating state. They offer unbiased insight and another layer of service and support post-implementation. In an industry notorious for low satisfaction ratings, another layer of service and support is a very valuable component to the consultant relationship.
Not All Carriers Are Created Equal
Often telecom carriers have core competencies. There are services they offer, and there are services they offer and do well. Good consultants know exactly what each carrier does best. Furthermore, it is not unusual that a single carrier cannot provide all of the best services needed in today’s complex environment. Consultants typically work from a large portfolio of solution providers to recommend what each one of them does best.
Consultants also have ongoing, established relationships that can be leveraged within the industry. For instance, most agents have multiple clients with each provider. These “portfolios” create client-advantageous situations and the fundamental premise of “economies of scale,” which leads to our primary myth buster.
Myth Buster – Buying Direct Will Get Me a Better Deal
We’ve all done it, either as a consumer or in business. The default premise is buying direct will get me a better deal. After all, why pay the middleman? (Sure go ahead and defend yourself in a court of law, see how that works too.) The truth is you’re going to waste a lot of time shopping around and you will likely spend more. How often do you negotiate a telecom deal? Agents do it every day and they work with the same finance departments as a direct sales rep. They also have an acute understanding of the going rate and what the marketplace will bear. Moreover, they have “portfolios” not a single account.
Consultants regularly negotiate better terms for their clients. Telecom contracts are notorious for complicated verbiage, fine print and non-sensical jargon. Consultant’s look out for contractual limitations and restrictions, while making sure client interests are fully protected.
A consultant is also free to shop around. They can source from different vendors and negotiate on your behalf to get the best price. In today’s complex environment with multiple areas of telecom—from mobility to voice and data services—typically one carrier cannot provide all the needed services (as previously noted). And, even if they do, sometimes “bundles” aren’t the best solution at the best price. Only a telecom consultant can mix and match solution sets with your best interest in mind.
Telecom consultants also provide another technical resource. It’s not that telecom is IT rocket science. It’s that in order to thoroughly understand the services, the providers and the pricing, you have to be doing it day in and day out. Most IT departments don’t have the resources to dedicate personnel solely to telecom. A telecom consultant has deep, broad-based industry experience and, as an extension of your team, can design and construct an efficient communications infrastructure built to your needs. Consultants take this knowledge and project manage implementations to ensure smooth deployments. Consultants work with these solutions every day and maintain a better understanding of the migration path.
We’re all guilty here, too. Have you ever heard someone say they are NOT busy? Everybody’s soooo busy! Yet, there are things that we just don’t like anybody to touch. We inherently put our elbows up and claim, “that’s my job.” A consultant’s best friend is the CFO. Often, IT is not so welcoming. And, understandably so. It’s innate for an IT expert to want to go it alone. C- and director-level IT personnel certainly have the technical aptitude to do telecom. But, even the most experienced and seasoned IT expert doesn’t do telecom every day.
Why would a high-level IT expert want to spend time taking a deep dive in this area when they could be focused on the customer experience and other mission critical tasks? At little to no cost, a telecom consultant offers dedicated expertise, marketplace data, and industry-specific technical capacity. When the turf war chasm is eclipsed, the telecom consultant becomes an invaluable resource to IT, in addition to being the CFO’s best friend.
UCaaS and the Cloud
Cloud technologies are changing the way organizations consume telecom services. Your communications infrastructure is more important than ever before. A carefully architected network which includes disaster recovery and business continuity is paramount. Telecom consultants help organizations migrate to the cloud model by taking full advantage of the cloud and network solutions offered by vendors. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is essentially a delivery model for Unified Communications (UC). Innovators are adopting UCaaS and it has quickly become the fastest growing segment in the increasingly expanding UC market. The major factors driving UCaaS growth is its demand and adoption in the mid-market. The as-a-Service model, ongoing support, and powerful collaboration tools make UC desirable and obtainable for a wider range of organizations. Consultants are addressing this demand by assisting with the seamless shift from on-premise technologies to the cloud-UC model.