I found myself watching the UK TV program ‘The Troubleshooter’ with Lord Digby Jones, where he was advising a Freezer and Cooler manufacturer on setting up a new production line, he was showing how a small improvement in the way they worked on the line could offer huge benefits in terms of productivity and cost to the company. In my youth, I had spent 1 happy year working for Black & Decker and learning all about the Japanese principles of Kaizen (continuous improvement) and JIT (just in time) stock management. At Black & Decker we were looking all the time at how we could improve productivity, whilst encouraging all our employees to see how this could be achieved.
It strikes me that this is the same issue that communication providers are facing, as they look to engage into conversations with enterprises todays. Traditionally they have sold fixed & mobile lines & minutes often based on price or specific product feature differentiation.
As we see the emergence of new Hosted VoIP/ Unified Communications & Collaboration services, our approach and conversation with the enterprise may have to fundamentally change. We effectively now become a partner in helping them address how they can use communications & collaboration services to continuously improve their businesses. Often some of the more advance UC services can be more expensive if you just compare them say on the ability to make a call and not look at the broader UC benefit.
So the challenge for providers who want to address this UC market, is how do I change my business to enter into what are very different conversations and approaches. Also the people I will be competing against will be changing as I will start to bump into some of the traditional System Integrators like Accenture, Fujitsu, who have augmented their consulting capabilities with technology.
Well, what we are seeing so far is providers starting to offer their own Professional Services and Consulting service at the front of the sales process to help bridge that gap, also we see the emergence of centralized team resources that either provide technical and bid support or take over the whole sales process for these sales. In my past, I was Senior Director at UUNET/Worldcom and we purchased the Digex business (a managed hosting business) I decided that it would be impossible to fully integrate that business as the sales process was complex and very different to what our sales teams were used to at that time, so we established it as an overlay on top of the Sales Team which was very successful. The last I heard, it still has an overlay capability over 10 years later.
This is obviously an important issue when talking to some of the very largest enterprises, but we are seeing more and more businesses looking at how they can improve their business. I am seeing providers offer consulting packages where they will come into medium size business for 2 days for less than £2000 and provide that business with a view of how Comms & Collaboration can improve their performance.
So our sales forces and organisations maybe forced to go through a fundamental change over the next few years if we are going to help our customers, take advantage of the new opportunities that UC and VoIP are bringing us.
The Cavell Group have been advising providers worldwide on how this issue needs to be addressed for the last 10 years and have experienced the changing needs of a huge number of providers in that time. If you want to find out more about what the Cavell Group has achieved please visit www.cavellgroup.com and get in touch.