Dan Caruso, CEO of Zayo, wrote a post about the profitability of bandwidth. I got to thinking about how it applied to VoIP, specifically UC, Hosted UC, UCaaS, Cloud Comms or whatever silly marketing hashtag we are using this month.
Just the fact that the term has to change so often means that the industry is searching for identity.
It also means that there is a lot of education needed to sell Unified Communications to its full benefit. And guess what? Education is Expensive.
"For many reasons, basing your marketing on educating the consumer is one of the most expensive forms of marketing there is. It is a bad idea for lots of reasons a) Nobody cares about your product as much as you think they do. B) It requires an unrealistic expectation of engagement from the consumer and C) It is incredibly slow and time consuming."
Caruso says that in bandwidth "Strategies still need to be sorted out." In UC, too. there are two ways to market: products or solutions. Most people market products. Most salespeople sell products. "Oh, you need that? I have that. How much do I have to drop my pants to win this contract?" Sound familiar?
Integration, Deployment and Training are all factors in the customer satisfaction equation. In this, "Execution Matters.... Integrations are hard. Industry consolidation creates murkiness. Processes and systems are complex." A lot of that has to do with CEO focus. Are they focused on processes and systems or revenue and capital? Are they focused on sales but not watching provisioning? In sales, if you follow the sales process routinely, you will get the results that you seek. Processes are most important. They create outcomes.
Shango has a blog post that asks, "What defines a real VoIP Cloud?" It's a way to talk about the system that delivers the service, but really customers don't give a hoot. What do THEY care about?
Do you think a customer would care that "The provisioning logic and configuration is independent of the switching technology"? I'm going to say No, unless you only sell to really techie techies - and truthfully there are very few of those left in VoIP (with a budget).
But this is the problem with the VoIP. The end user - yes the person actually using that IP Phone - only cares that they can get their tasks done without the technology getting their way. Period. Maybe the buyer thinks differently, but when you sell UC, you are really selling BPI (business process improvement). That's the Value of UC. So it is about the end user. How they use the endpoint. The training they need (continually). Integration of systems like email to CRM to Zendesk to PBX to softphone to presence to mobility. This is where the big dollars are, because this is where the value lies.
Unfortunately, the UC industry is pumping out press releases about bigger networks, new phones, name changes, new components -- your customer doesn't care.
Education is expensive. It also slows down sales, which slows down revenue, which slows down the Exit event.
Worry about 2 things: the systems/processes and marketing. "The rest just adds costs," Peter Drucker stated.
By the way, who searches for UCaaS or any of the other silly terms? Write good content about outcomes and customer stories to win. But hey if you want to pay a marketing firm to re-brand you by creating another nonsense term for communications, go for it. That money could have been better spent on things that matter.