The channel in 2018. When to start planning for what’s next?

Most of the 2018 planning blogs you’ll read will emerge at some point in November or December, when Christmas is nearly here and the turn of the year is days away, rather than months.

We’re taking a different approach. Because, in reality, no one plans for the following year at the very end of the current one. And for channel partners it’s essential to think about what customers are going to expect from their business communications services now, so they can be ready with answers and advice when needed.

A dull date with data

It’s hardly revelatory to suggest that data is going to be a big concern for businesses next year, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Channel partners have to be at the top of their game with data supply going forward. In today’s market, that means making data boring.

Businesses, particularly those without specialist IT teams, don’t want to spend time thinking about the reliability of their data services. Nor do they want to dedicate undue time to usage concerns. Instead what they want is data that works for their needs, allows them to scale easily and is capable of managing everything from voice to broadband.

Soon enough, channel partners might have to give up promoting data speed altogether. Customers will see it as a given, so the differentiator between providers will become the SLAs they can offer around the product.

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MiFID II: the second coming

Most businesses in the financial sector will have been affected by the legislative rules of MiFID I (Markets in Financial Instruments Drive) since its introduction back in 2004. However, under the original version of MiFID, there was no requirement to keep phone records.

That changes now. Instead of leaving it up to the discretion of the business, keeping records of telephone interactions will become mandatory – most likely from January 2018 onwards.

For channel partners, this means having a keen eye on security, how robust their solutions are and how they can partner with third party developers – such as Semafone, who provide secure solutions for voice.

SIP trunking has proved that it can adapt to developing security requirements time and again. Numerous financial services companies use it for their contact centres, knowing that it’s both reliable and secure. The leading SIP Trunk providers are constantly looking at ways to develop the solution, therefore it’s likely that SIP security will increase in the future to offer greater assurance to financial services businesses.

2018 starts now

Channel partners face a choice. Get ahead of the market, keep up with it, or lose out. By anticipating what customers will need in the coming years, they can pre-empt requirements and be there with the right telephony solutions when the call comes in.

Of course, business life is unpredictable. So that list of customer needs and wants is always likely to change. But by thinking about how to offer great (but boring) data services and how to mollify concerns around MiFID II, channel partners can become a voice their customers and prospects trust.

Staying relevant is vital for every business. Find out how you can always be up-to-date with our 7 steps to staying relevant in business.

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15 August 2017 | Justin Coombes

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.