Partners are perfectly placed to exploit the surge in unified communications

man holding digital globe

Being connected has never been more important to UK businesses. Whether it’s a salesperson developing a relationship with a prospect over their mobile phone, a cloud-based chatbot helping out a customer, or an IoT sensor relaying information to an engineer, connectivity underpins everything a business does.

As technology has developed, so have customer expectations of connectivity. People want real-time status updates on product delivery, they want a personalised experience and they want great customer service from the companies they deal with – whether on a personal or professional level.

For businesses, this means working in new ways and implementing more dynamic systems and processes – across technology and operations – to deliver customer expectations. This is no mean feat, but technologies such as Unified Communications (UC) and converged communications can help to improve customer service, employee collaboration, responsiveness to customers and ultimately productivity.

The good news is that the technology opportunity is clear. With Gartner predicting that global end-user spending on UC will reach a staggering $43.5 million by 2021, UC will continue to have a big impact on ways of working and there is a fantastic opportunity for businesses and partners alike.

The value of UC

A workforce that can collaborate seamlessly and quickly from wherever they are can give a business a competitive edge.

A joint study between the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Babson College found that of the 1,100 companies they investigated, those that promoted collaborative working were five times as likely to be high performing.

UC technology can help to achieve this. It enables teams to better communicate, whether across internal divisions or even nationwide. Being able to use a mix of instant messaging services, cloud apps, video conferencing, mobile and IP telephony means people can always communicate and collaborate simply and effectively – whether they are designing a new app, sharing best practice across teams or orchestrating a complex sale.

UC also helps employees better communicate with customers and crucially, to be more responsive. If an account manager, for example, is on the move and a key client calls their landline, they might miss a vital call. With UC, they will be sure the call reaches their mobile automatically, or that the call is directed to a colleague who can handle the request.

The opportunity for partners

While UC and related services offer a way for businesses to transform how their teams communicate with one another and their customers, they sometimes need some help from the experts to help deliver that transformation.

This is where partners play a vital role. The channel has a significant opportunity to help educate businesses on the value and benefits that UC can bring. Partners have a powerful understanding of these services, how they can be best implemented and how to support employees to adopt the new tools – not to mention the unique value that a partner’s local economic and commercial knowledge brings.

This blend of proximity, understanding, and expertise is why partners are so perfectly placed to open up new opportunities with customers, beyond mobile or fixed only.

Underpinning any communications service is the network. In fact, at Vodafone we’ve already invested £2 billion in our network and services over the last few years with another £2 billion committed over the next few years, meaning we can continue to deliver fast and reliable connectivity to UK businesses.

A simpler, more productive way of working

Businesses up and down the country will be looking for ways to collaborate better, be more responsive to their customers’ needs and get more out of their workforce.

However, business customers may not want or be able to go on the journey to UC on their own, so partners must grasp this opportunity and demonstrate their value by helping customers embrace these services. If they do this well – selling the right services and offering the right consultancy and support – partners should expect to see their own businesses thrive, along with their customers.

Helen Freestone is director of UK partners & alliances at Vodafone UK