TelcoSwitch CEO Talks Cloud Telephony for the Channel, with Comms Business

Comms Business Magazine recently interviewed our CEO, Russell Lux, covering the topic of cloud based telephony and the impact of collaboration vendors on the channel market.

Do business owners still perceive hosted telephony as a cost rather than an enabler?

From our experience with partners, hosted telephony is absolutely an enabler and we never have to manage cost objections, perhaps due to how our pricing models serve our channel partners. From the end customer’s perspective, hosted has been around long enough now for decision-makers to clearly see the upside of solutions that don’t attract CapEx and costly ongoing maintenance. What’s perhaps more recent is the change in working practices bought about by Covid-19, which has demonstrated how much employees can accomplish from anywhere with the right tools, and that has its own return on investment for hosted telephony and UC.

Where are the short-term gains going to come from for partners during this time?

Our partners have really benefitted from being able to deploy our UC products quickly and at scale throughout Covid-19. While there are of course economic challenges for many companies, our partners have fed back that customers who were in their longer-term pipeline have actually closed sooner than expected, because they’ve needed to react to changes in working practices. It’s been evidenced by the number of new licences for our UC products that we’ve bought online for partners across the last three months.

With the prevalence of the collaboration vendors (like Microsoft Teams) what does this mean for the Channel?

Teams has introduced a host of opportunities for our channel partners. With Windows and Office, Microsoft is everywhere, and enjoying monthly billing relationships with their customers, so their strong position could be viewed as a risk. However, migrating to calling in Teams is complicated when you factor in number porting, geographical availability, configuration, call flows, to name but a few, and it’s expensive.

For solutions like ours, there’s an opportunity for channel partners to deliver a compelling offering that both adds value and reduces cost for the end customer, while protecting revenues for the partner. Ultimately success or failure comes down whether you can offer the partner a powerful proposition both technically and commercially, and support that partner in delivering it to their customers.

Are all Direct Routing/ integration propositions born equal?

Where the end customer is using direct routing into Teams it’s easy to assume parity across all solutions. But we know that’s not the case, and partners have fed back a host of different experiences across vendors. Naturally, there’s a commercial element as to what the vendor is charging and the breadth of inclusive minute bundles. But assuming all direct routing options are cheaper than Microsoft’s calling plans, it really comes down to what additional features the vendor offers, where we’ve done a lot of work with our call recording and analytics engine for those operating under strict regulatory compliance, and the resilience of the core infrastructure itself, ensuring maximum uptime and availability of voice services.

Is the end of the ISDN still driving this market?

The ISDN Switch Off has been bubbling away for a long time now, but those running legacy infrastructure are more likely to make the switch sooner due to an operational need, like the changes to working practices we’ve all experienced. While our partners report that some opportunities are customers moving away from ISDN because of the Switch Off, the overwhelming majority are switching to a hosted model for UC because of remote working, or as a result of other hosted solutions that haven’t performed competently or offered enough flexibility for them.

How will the market evolve over the next 12-24 months?

Microsoft will continue to assert its position, eroding the market share of other large vendors. That in turn will present opportunities for evolving vendors in the market, like TelcoSwitch, who can adapt quickly, aren’t beholden to shareholders, and can harness tighter integration with Teams for those customers who want it.

We also can’t look forward without acknowledging the role Covid-19 will continue to play in working practices and technology deployments. Companies had to push out ‘work from home’ structures to employees they wouldn’t ever have expected to. But they did, and now it’s been proven to work, that only spells good news for solutions like ours and the partners we work alongside.