When Small Becomes Big and Big Becomes Global
Pramodh Menon, President, Partner Business Group, Cisco India & SAARC
Many SMBs also find the perceived complexity associated with implementing technology very daunting. The issue gets further complicated due to the dearth of relevant industry specific solutions. Most IT solutions are not customized to address specific problem of SMBs but are offered as scaled-down versions of the ones offered to large enterprises. This adds to the increased reluctance on the part of the SMBs to adapt to the technology.
UC as a differentiator
Rich media conferencing can be a convenient, cost-effective alternative to international travel. SMBs can use it for sales presentations or online seminars. This makes it easy for global teams to work together and collaborate online to view the same video or documents at the same time, review them, and collectively make changes to documents in real time.
A UC system can also give the SMB a sales and marketing advantage. SMBs can link the UC system to a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, giving any employee who answers the phone an instant access to a caller's customer file. The employee might notice there are products the caller hasn't tried, for example, and immediately offer the customer a 10 percent discount or other incentives.
Offering round-the-clock customer support can help build positive customer relationships, which in turn lead to more customer signoffs, improve productivity and bring cost savings for business. Newer technologies like Social Miner allows businesses to measure and monitor their brand’s online profile and leverage newer social networking and crowdsourcing trends for business benefit
What vendors must do
To cite an example, Cisco places huge focus on enabling its partners serving SMB markets by helping them build capabilities in understanding advanced technologies. This helps the partners to assist their SMB customers in designing, installing, and managing a UC system. Through its partner network, Cisco is enhancing the technological assistance that it can provide to SMB customers across India.
In order to woo their SMB clients, vendors across the board have to also provide financing models which reduces the initial cost of acquisition of the technology and also provide significant protection from obsolescence. Vendors would also need to evolve their service business models so as to meet customer needs and devise options which offer the customer the ability to “pay by the drink” while consuming technology.
Two business models that most vendors are currently focusing on are scaling distribution and managed services. As vendors embrace customers' transition to managed services, they need to develop managed service programs that are based on a robust and flexible service portfolio. Inherent in the evolution of the services business models are the evolving roles of partners who work together with the vendor to enable customers increase capacity, capability, and profitability.
In the future