For a number of years, business technology solutions have shifted from those that are primarily hardware-based to those that are increasingly software-based. In practical terms, this shift has led to a convergence of once-disparate technologies—none more so than traditional IT and telecommunications systems.
It wasn’t long ago that the default for businesses was to maintain two separate networks—one for data traffic and another for voice. Thanks to the internet and subsequent acceptance of the cloud, voice communications is increasingly IP-based—which means channel partners now have the opportunity to offer telco services alongside their more traditional IT portfolios.
This IT-telco convergence has led to a burgeoning market of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) technologies, a broad category that includes IP telephony, video conferencing, contact center infrastructure, and mobile UC&C. According to market research firm IDC, the worldwide UC&C market will exceed $35 billion by 2019, up from 2015 revenues of $24.5 billion. With this kind of growth, channel partners would be well advised to jump into this converged space.
Getting into the IT-Telco Market
Ray Lund is one channel partner who is well-versed in the IT-telco arena. Lund, who is CEO and co-owner of OnePointSync LLC, an IT services provider based in Lakewood, Colo., has been in the IT business nearly 25 years. About four years ago, his company began offering VoIP services, OnePointSync’s initial foray into the IT-telco market.
As an IT veteran, Lund feels that OnePointSync has an advantage over traditional telco providers when it comes to offering IP-based telephony systems. “We are familiar with networks, and with VoIP everything is IP-based,” he explains. “For us, it’s just like going in and installing another computer.” In effect, voice is an application that runs on a data network. For the channel, providing IP telephony services can go right along with selling IP-based handsets and other hardware.
Lund believes VoIP provides a natural starting point for channel partners to venture into the converged IT-telco market. Bradley Gross, principal at the Law Office of Bradley Gross, P.A., of Weston, Fla., who counts MSPs among his clients, agrees. “A lot of MSPs now are looking into the VoIP space because it’s such a natural progression of what they are already doing,” Gross explains. “They are already securing the internet access and managing it and monitoring it, so now it’s just a question of also installing the devices that will allow them to use a portion of the bandwidth to make telephone calls.”
To get up to speed with VoIP options, Lund recommends working with a VoIP vendor that offers comprehensive training. OnePointSync works with two such vendors: Allworx Corp., a provider of VoIP communications systems for SMBs based in Rochester, N.Y.; and Kerio Technologies Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based company that offers VoIP systems. In addition to training, Lund says both companies offer a very stable product—one important criterion for both getting started with VoIP initially and succeeding over the long term.
And Lund has certainly been successful. Thanks to adding VoIP, he estimates that OnePointSync has grown 30 percent per year. In addition to basic voice service, VoIP systems can support internet fax, videoconferencing, mobility such as Office Anywhere, and telepresence. VoIP also integrates with business and collaboration applications such as Outlook and CRM.