There’s a formidable competitor on the brink of making some hay in the UC space and I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with Bicrosoft. There’s no doubt that this company, with the majority of enterprises running Exchange, will leverage enduser ubiquity and deep pockets to steal marketshare with their “Lync” UC solution. Based on conversations with partners, it’s becoming more of a threat every day.
With this threat looming, you have two options:
1. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and sell Microsoft Lync. That is, if you can figure out how to make money doing it. Being a Microsoft partner is a very different business model that appears to be a dramatic departure for most of us.
2. Convince customers that Avaya UC works in symphony with Microsoft — afterall, Avaya probably has the best integration of any of the UC players.
But both of those options are, well.. risky. I think there’s a third option and very few partners are considering it. Migrate enterprises to Google Apps. What’s that? No, I’m not insane. This strategy makes A LOT of sense for many reasons:
1. Google Apps are picking up serious steam. A combination of migration into the cloud and Google tapping former Cisco executives with serious channel chops are paying off.
2. Google Apps are becoming increasingly mainstream and enterprise worthy. Yes, some customers will have some hang-ups, mostly around security — but those concerns can be mitigated by enterprising partners (who will make money doing so.)
3. If you can convince a customer to migrate to gmail and other apps, you’ve essentially destroyed any chance Microsoft has of selling UC to that client.
4. The financial return on moving to Google from Microsoft is simply too compelling ignore. Although Microsoft has their own cloud offerings (BPOS, Office 365), Google has a big head start and has the swagger of an innovative disruptor.
5. Avaya can and will integrate with Google Apps. Let me repeat that. Avaya integrates with Google. I haven’t done a ton of research, but I know that as an example, there’s a company called Esnatech that has a solution that integrates CM. Don’t like their solution? Develop your own integration!
6. Not all customers are ready to migrate to Google Apps because of the way their network and security is architected. That’s a very good thing for you since it provides you an amazing opportunity to provide pro services, project management and incremental hardware to prepare their network for moving into a cloud environment.
7. As I understand it, Google sells direct to only the very largest of organizations. That leaves quite a bit of room for you to position yourself as the trusted advisor and charge a pretty penny to do so. Come to think of it, smart partners will find out which really big customers are migrating to google apps (believe me, they’re out there), and pitch them UC powered by Avaya.
I’ve just shared a business strategy that makes you money in at least NINE ways:
1. Google Apps readiness surveys/ assessments
2. Network Architecting Pro-Services
3. Sale of security appliances and network infrastructure to support secure network traffic to the cloud.
4. Implementation of the above.
5. Up front commission for converting customer to Google Apps.
6. Recurring Revenue from your customers on Google Apps.
7. Sale of Avaya UC Solution that integrates with Google Apps.
8. Pro-Services of Avaya UC to integrate with Google Apps.
9. Managed services on the above.
If you ask me, it’s just crazy enough to work, except it’s not that crazy. The only thing that threatens this strategy is Google coming out with their own fully baked UC solution. They don’t appear to be close and there’s a lot to be said for business critical uptime. In my opinion, customers will really hesitate to take any gamble with real time voice communication.
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