Convergence and the changing face of business

2.jpgRecent technological innovations have allowed for some pretty amazing developments. For example, VoIP phone systems have revolutionized how many businesses communicate with each other. Since it has become extremely convenient and affordable, more companies are adopting it as a standard. This has paved the way for additional analog to digital switches, such as video conferencing, electronic faxing, file sharing, and more. 

However, while these innovations have certainly made life easier, they've also taught people that convenience is king. Being able to receive all of these amazing services isn't enough, as now companies look for and do business with providers that offer them all.

This obviously presents a challenge to modern managed service providers within the unified communications space, but it also presents an opportunity for those with the initiative to take it. Convergence of services is the key to success in the coming years. 

Why convergence is so important

Convergence of technologies has been the cornerstone of innovation for a long time now. No one wants to carry around a calculator, a laptop, a notepad, and a cellphone all the time. That's why nearly two-thirds of American adults own a smartphone today, according to the Pew Research Center. 

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Smartphones have allowed a level of convenience that really hasn't ever been seen before.

Being able to provide everything a customer might need is an important fixture in the business world, especially within unified communications – hence the “unified”.

For instance, as a service provider you may provide communications data storage, but your competition can provide that as well as a hearty VoIP phone system through a channel partner. While your relationship with customers may be extremely friendly and amicable, if they can't get what they need out of you, they're going to go somewhere else. (As they say, it's not personal. It's just business.)

Many of Fonality’s top channel partners have retained and added new business by providing our VoIP and UC solutions to their customers. In fact, our channel partners have generated a majority of our revenue over the last few periods – a win-win for us all.  

focus on business, not features

There's a quote people often attribute to Henry Ford that goes like this: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." Regardless of whether or not the automobile titan actually said this, I make sure my team understands the importance of this statement.

If you're looking to expand and add services to your current business model, at some point you're going to need to sale these new services to your customers. When that time comes around, you'll need to focus on the business advantages your relationship can encourage, and not the features of the service itself. 

If that's just not making sense to you, think of it this way. Say you're a time traveler with the strange goal of having to convince businesses in the early 2000s to build a marketing strategy for Facebook when it eventually comes to be. You could talk until you're blue in the face about the ability to post updates, images and videos and have people like, comment or share them, and you probably wouldn't get anywhere. 

These business owners just wouldn't be able to see the benefits of a product they don't understand, and might focus too heavily on the risks instead. 

However, if you were to focus on social media's ability to garner good PR simply from some posts on a company's page, business owners would hopefully start to see its value (and when they finally reached today, they’d see even more with Facebook's market value reaching $245 billion in June 2015). This is why it’s important to communicate new services by focusing on what they can achieve for the business and not just what the technology can do. 

With so much noise in the unified communications market, finding a way to stand out is extremely hard. This is true whether you plan on pushing VoIP phone systems or just communication software in general. Converging services, while keeping the focus on the business advantages of services rather than their individual features, is the key to staying relevant. 

So, how does convergence impact the art of establishing meaningful relationships with customers? Stay tuned for my next post to find out.

David Beagle
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