Above and beyond enabling the organisation to continue operating, distributed working has also been a success for both businesses and individuals, in giving people the flexibility to re-think how they work and live, and delivering to business leaders enhanced productivity and improved employee morale. As such, it’s something that both sides will want to continue even as offices re-open. Gartner research shows that 41 per cent of employees are likely to continue to work remotely post-pandemic in some capacity (either full-time or part of the time), and 82 per cent of company leaders plan on allowing remote work even once it’s no longer necessary.
As the Gartner research notes, this will result in a “more complex, hybrid workforce,” and that is a big opportunity for MSPs, who can help their clients cut through the complexities to realise the maximum benefits from this shift. The challenge that MSPs face, however, is that they need to move rapidly on this opportunity, because the nature of remote working solutions is that customers will be hesitant to change once they’ve adopted a solution that works. Once they’re “set” into their new systems, there will be concern for the change management challenges to roll to any new system, and already telcos and technology vendors are angling towards long-term deals with their customers. MSPs need to engage with a proven unified communications supplier quickly.
Unified communications need to underpin any distributed working solution for it to be a success. Statista data shows that of the biggest challenges and inhibitors to distributes work, collaborating with colleagues/clients (35 per cent) and isolation/loneliness (35 per cent) are two of the top three stated issues. This is solved via a complete unified communications platform by ensuring that the organisation is able to sync interactions between teams and open up a greater range of dialogue opportunities within groups. The communications suite offered within UC will further enable the kind of ad-hoc discussions and even off-topic banter that is so critical for maintaining a sense of unity and connection within an organisation.
Addressing client challenges
For MSPs, not all unified communications solutions are equal, nor is every partner program designed around effective speed to market and the capacity to scale from there. Access4 has built a partner program specifically to enable MSPs to take advantage of the small window of opportunity to aggressively push back against telcos at a time when many businesses are taking a new look at their communication environment and taking steps to modernise it.
Key to the success of the 100+ partners currently on the Access4 platform is the ability to deliver quickly and at scale. One partner, Viatek, was able to deploy a highly scalable solution for Fastway Couriers – a company whose growth ambitions had been stymied by the complex and expensive process to install and configure new handsets for the phone system for new staff. The success of this solution has set the benchmark for others to follow, and demonstrates the clear use case and competitive advantage that the Access4 platform provides to an organisation.
Additionally, because the Access4 platform was entirely cloud-based, Viatek was able to instantly enable distributed working for its customer, with no disruption to the business flow. “We could see that, in times such as the COVID-19 crisis, we needed to have the ability for staff to work remotely if required. This was simply not possible with our existing phone system as all calls had to be handled in the office,” Russell Jackson, Fastway Franchise Administration Manager, said.
MSPs also need to be able to deliver reliability to their clients, with many businesses in many sectors requiring 99.98 per cent (or higher) uptime guarantee built into the SLAs. Healthcare, for example, cannot afford for its phone systems to suffer outages, and it was the ability to provide this service to its healthcare client that lead PConnect to partner with Access4.
“PConnect did face a major issue with former providers. The solution was being impacted by network outages and a lack of platform stability, which meant we were not able to meet the commitments we had made to our clients. We undertook an in-depth market review for a new platform partner as our previous suppliers had completely let us down,” Geoff Boyce, Director and Founder of Prevision IT, said..
Questions to ask any UC provider
MSPs that want to provide unified communications solutions need to find the right partner, and this means asking the right questions of what the vendor can offer. To address the needs of the modern business with its distributed working environment, a unified communications vendor should:
- Be able to facilitate rapid deployment and a seamless “switch-over”
- Provide a robust cloud-based environment that focuses on uptime
- Simplify billing so the MSP can develop recurring revenue models
- Facilitate ease of use and remote management so the MSP can provide deep support to their customers
- Offer a partner program with a genuine joint market approach, with support and incentives developed with partner success in mind
- Provide flexibility, so the partner can continue to support the range of products and integrations that their customers will want in the future.
- Flexible licensing so the partner can scale the solution during periods of growth and contraction.
Australian businesses are in flux, and throughout the heavy disruption they have demonstrated a willingness and capacity to innovate and change – both as a survival mechanism and to prepare themselves to rebound at the other end of the disruption. Unified communications has renewed a focus in IT frameworks, providing MSPs with a unique opportunity to disrupt the incumbents and capture new, long-term, high-value customers. They just need to find a collaboration supplier that knows what they’re doing, has proven use cases to demonstrate the value of their cutting-edge technology, and who are entirely invested in the success of their channel and MSP program.