I am lucky in my job because I get to meet with dozens to hundreds of telecom dealers each year discussing how they are moving their businesses forward. These meetings are always fascinating and often enlightening.
Today one of the primary questions almost all of them are asking is: What does Microsoft Lync mean to me? It is a fair question after all; Microsoft has been promising to win the Unified Communication game for years and, according to most accounts, has failed miserably so far. That being said, it is almost universally agreed that this industry is at a major inflection point and Microsoft is at the center of the change. So for a minute let’s assume that Microsoft has finally got it right, (I use Lync every day and think they do have it correct). What does this mean to the Avaya and Cisco and the thousands of other phone manufactures’ dealers? I think it is a time to focus on the three R’s…not reading, writing, and arithmetic, but reflect, reset and react.
Reflect – the first thing many of these business owners need to do is take into account time and business cycles and really investigate and decide if they believe in this change. It is expensive to hire the right resources to start a practice that centers on a product like Microsoft Lync. It is intrusive in organizations and with the power of the tool comes complex deployment and management challenges. That being said, it is often more expensive to play catch-up when customers depart for promises of greater technology. I spend much of my time consulting on many approaches to adapting to this challenge but many are hedging their bets because of previous failures on Microsoft’s part. I advise that this is a perfectly acceptable strategy as long as it is just that – a deliberate decision to wait or avoid jumping on the Microsoft bandwagon. The mistake is letting it happen without the reflection and hoping things turn out in your favor.
Reset – Regardless of what the reflection brings, this change in the industry will require a reset of strategy and messaging. Whether it is a positive embracing of Microsoft Lync or an explanation of why it is a fad that won’t last, customers will be talking about the Microsoft approach over the next several years. This strategy will be critical and in my experience, most customers won’t accept a blanket adoption or rejection of a technology released by Microsoft. Dealers have to stay relevant, regardless of the answer they choose, to explain to the people and customers they advise.
React – This is the most critical item and the one that is most often overlooked. The technology world is spinning faster and faster. What used to take two decades to happen now happens in two years. Of all the dealers I talk to on a daily and weekly basis, the only ones that are struggling are the ones stuck in analysis paralysis. The market is thirsty for solutions. Customers are desperate to save budgets, to save their jobs, to help their companies and stay relevant in a cloud, analytic, big data, internet, video world. They look for partners that are smart and aggressive in providing advice and consulting and helping them do the right thing.
87% of enterprises are already in the process of evaluating Microsoft Lync. This isn’t something our industry can ignore. I challenge you to answer this question “What is your Microsoft Lync Strategy?” Regardless of the answer, it will serve you well to spend the time to understand it.