Why the channel needs to prioritise data services

Connectivity is everywhere

Amplify

In modern business, connections are everything: Digital transformation has enabled us to communicate and collaborate around the clock, with greater ease and efficiency than we’ve ever known. It’s taught us that any space can be a workspace, breaking down the barriers that once caused remote workers to feel cut off, and made truly global interactions and partnerships an achievable reality.

As a community, we’ve embraced the possibilities we’ve been presented with, evidenced by Cisco’s prediction that global internet traffic in 2021 will be equivalent to 127 times the volume of the entire global internet in 2005. The statistics also revealed 2016 was the biggest year ever for content consumption.

What customers want

By 2020, the global big data market is predicted to be worth $57 billion. Given its size and estimated expansion, it’s no wonder that a growing number of tech firms are looking to create a viable offer to data-hungry businesses and consumers.

For channel partners entering this market, it’s a positive story, the rewards are clearly there but no one should take them for granted. Big money is like shark bait to tech providers.

By 2020, the global big data market is predicted to be worth $57 billion.

As soon as they smell it, they start circling. When the waters are busy with rivals, the only way to stand out is to really understand the prospective customer, and to have an offer that directly addresses their needs.

This boils down to three things:

Doing data differently

Every business is unique. Even those in the same market, and of the same size will have their own variations. As a result, their data usage and connectivity needs are all different. Some may be looking to address a storage requirement, others (such as service-orientated businesses) will be looking at a converged data and voice solution to modernise their core telecommunications. Whatever the customer’s needs, it’s key that you, as a channel partner can address them. So it makes good business sense to look at a data package that’s versatile and reliable with features such as high bandwidth and excellent performance SLAs.

The reliability factor

Regardless of the customer’s needs, reliability is going to be high up the tick list, particularly for SMEs who’ll be looking to their provider to deliver services that work and can scale exactly when they need them to. Keep in mind things like the type of back-up you’ll be able to offer, through either single IP presentation if the main server experiences trouble, or an easy to set up temporary office.

Future needs

Businesses aren’t just buying a data and connectivity package for today. They’re buying it for tomorrow as well. Keeping up to date with the latest in data trends and mapping them to customers’ needs is best practice for a channel partner. New features and upgrades matter, even to customers being on boarded today. Knowing a customer’s priorities is central to the successful selling of data in the channel. Then it’s just a matter of making the case for it.

How to best position data

As the market is so competitive, the way that data services are positioned is almost as important as how they’re provisioned. As your competitors crowd around the same customer base, it’s vital to know how to begin sales conversations and how to close them. Being ready and waiting with authoritative knowledge and advice is a good way to build customer trust and loyalty going forward.

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The data services market is a crowded one. To get noticed by prospective customers (and retain the existing ones), it’s essential to understand what people need from their provider.

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The key is to have the benefits of your data services offer always close to hand. Make sure each positioning statement not only addresses a customer question, but also clearly iterates a reason to work with you. Here are a few to think about:

End of the Infrastructure Era

Legacy telephone systems come with a lot of hardware that’s expensive to install, to maintain, and to use. Converged voice and data removes that need – so for businesses there’s no need to continue struggling with a system that was built in the last century.

Data services are a must for any channel partner that wants a bright future in tech and telephony.

The Benefit of Business Only

Most telecommunications and data providers work across the business and consumer markets. That can be great as they are often recognised names on the high street but the drawback is a lot of traffic is using not a lot of network space. Also, when there are issues with the service, support staff can become tied up dealing with individual consumer cases and complaints, rather than addressing a business’s bigger picture.

Working with a business-only network makes sense when selling to companies. Not only does it guarantee a certain level of service because the lines are strictly for business-use only, it guarantees specialist expertise with support staff trained in addressing the specific installation, usage, and maintenance needs of corporate users.

The Ease of Installation

The SME market (in particular) can’t cope with major disruption when updating their tech and telephony services. If they know that a new solution might knock their core operations off course, they are more likely to turn it down.

Working with a private data network that’s centrally managed, means roll-out to smaller sites is easy to do and it comes with minimal disruption. As well as having no hardware that needs to be installed, it’s also worth considering how easy the data solution is to maintain. User portals and intuitive user interfaces can make all the difference

Service Integration

Many businesses will be looking at data as part of a wider digital transformation programme with a heavy element of cloud migration, or as an update to their voice solutions for greater quality and continuity. This is where working with an experienced, multi-service provider can make all the difference.

Converged voice, data and mobile is the future of business grade communications, especially for SMEs who like the idea of everything in one package, removing the burden of having to deal with multiple suppliers when one will do. Channel partners can achieve big gains if they make a strong play in this area.

Consider the cost

It sounds obvious, but it should always be front-of-mind. Many businesses work on tight margins and will always have one eye on the bottom line. The ability to be competitive on pricing, as well as offering great service and support, is perhaps the most important thing for data provision in the channel. If your solution ticks the boxes of reliability, cost and quality, there’s a good chance of a wider customer base.

A date with data

Data services are must for any channel partner that wants a bright future in tech and telephony. However, as the data market continues to expand, more players will enter. That means further competition for existing customers and extra hands being raised towards new ones. In this sort of environment, it’s essential for SME-focused channel partners to be able to compete with a data offer that hits a lot of marks.

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Convergence, cost effectiveness, quality of service and ease of use are going to be the big watch words.

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Convergence, cost effectiveness, quality of service and ease of use are going to be the big watch words – but not every data provider can make promises around those and keep them.

That’s why in the battle for data, partner choice is going to be the biggest decision everyone in the channel makes.

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