As voice, data, video, and mobility converged, the "reseller" channel began experiencing its own "convergence". Data VARs, telecom dealers and systems integrators began selling converged solutions - creating a new group within the "reseller" channel. But what do we call them?
For a number of years, I've been writing and speaking about the data VARS, telecom dealers and systems integrators who have been changing their traditional business models and moving forward into a new space, offering their customers solutions that were the result of the convergence of voice, data, video and mobility. Some in this group have even moved beyond basic "convergence" (IP-PBX, for example) to offer unified communications solutions.
Long story short, I'm looking for a name for this group of data VARS, telecom dealers and systems integrators because I'm tired of saying or typing "data VARS, telecom dealers and systems integrators" over and over. I think the name should reflect how a convergence/UC data VAR, telecom dealer, or systems integrator wants to be viewed by their customers, not by the industry itself. I can't call them "resellers" because in no way, shape or form does that term reflect what members of this group actually do or the value that they bring to their customers.
Several of us talked and thought "Solutions Integrator" seemed to reflect what these special "resellers" do. It might be a good name, but "SI" already has a different meaning in our industry. Then I thought of "Business Solutions Provider" ("BSP") because I believe that therein lies the value that this group of "resellers" brings to their customers. But the correct terminology or name is not up to me - I'm no longer a systems integrator. So what's the name for this special group of data VARS, telecom dealers and systems integrators? Help!!!!!!!
I never know what the real difference is between VAR, Reseller, Systems Integrator, whatever. They all have different meanings to different people and thus are effectively meaningless terms. We don't need another acronym. I suggest UC Provider or (UCP if you must). The provider, whether it be a dealer, service, or even manufacturer is responsible for delivering UC. Today, terms need to be very broad as nothing adheres to models anymore. Retailers are wholesalers, resellers are manufactuers, customers and vendors and sometimes competitors. I have no idea what Amazon is anymore. UC Providers provide UC solutions - it doesn't matter if their business card says consultant, manufactuer, or dealer. Some manufacturers have professional services divisions, some don't. It gets even worse with badges on the products... Mitel sells IBM servers, IBM sells Aastra Services.
Dave - I think you're missing the point here. There is a channel out there that vendors depend on to get their products into the hands of the end-user (i.e. generate revenue for the vendors and the companies in the channel). Unfortunately, now that the telecom, data, video, and mobility industries have converged in one fashion or another, we are left with the problem of describing in a few words, those companies in the "channel". Why do we need to have a name for them? Because we/I need to talk about them.
To call them "the channel" is not good enough because in our industries there are actually a number of distribution channels - resellers, retail, service providers, etc. - in the food chain.
And it is demeaning to categorize as simply "resellers" the VARs, telecom dealers and systems integrators who are now providing their customers with "converged" solutions (their term, not mine) by addressing business problems. It's similar to calling an IT manager a technician, when clearly his knowledge, experience and duties have moved him far beyond being simply a "technician".
Do the voice and data industries - and now this converged industry - have too many acronyms? Heck yes! Nevertheless, we need a respectful term for the channel that is ultimately going to grow this industry - you know, those VARs, telecom dealers and systems integrators who have moved off of their traditional business models and are changing the way they sell. And to term them UC Providers is selling them short and not understanding the channel at all. As one of them explained to me the other day, they do not just sell "UC". Sometimes they provide network management, or VoIP, or security because that is what the customer needs. UC may be a part of the solutions that they provide to their customers, but sometimes it may not be. As this former "telecom dealer" explained, they've been providing elements of UC for years - but not as "UC"..... as solutions to businss needs. So forget "UC" in the name.
Bottom line - I'm tired of typing "VARs, telecom dealers and systems integrators" every time I need to mention this special channel. We're looking for a name!
I think we are basically saying the same thing. You can't find your word, because it doesn't and won't exist. Descriptors like you seek require a reasonable mature model that people can relate to.
When I was young, I used to buy shoes at the shoe store. Everyone knew what was meant by a shoe store. The model was understood. They had those funny looking chairs with mirrors on them. They were not too big, and often didn't have the right size in stock but could get it.
But today, the shoe store has lots of competition. I can buy shoes a big box store (DSW), a warehouse store (Costco), a specialty store (REI), or online in any of those permutations (zappos, overstock, REI). Each of these locations has their own definition of value.That's just the tip of the iceberg, I could go to department stores or factory outlets and everything in between. Is a factory outlet part of the channel?
You want a word or label for all of these. It doesn't exist, the days of the "shoe store" are gone. Telecom and High tech are even worse because of the rebranding. My monitor says Dell, but are they the manufacturer or reseller? Depends who you ask (I don't think they make monitors). Mitel resells Mitel Network Services (MPLS, SIP, etc.), but they resell them through the channel and directly - are they a manufactuer or reseller or distributor?
Even the term "channel" is becoming confused. Is the Amazon Kindle or better yet, the Kindle books sold through the channel? I don't know any more.Amazon creates the Kindle book, but they don't write the content. Does value ad include modification of the product into a new product or is that more systems integration?
I think your attempts to find or create a label are in vain. UC is far too young and too slippery for a model to form and take hold, the dynamics of the industry are ... well dynamic. Instead we have to be speak very clearly about roles rather than titles. The shoe provider or reseller that I worked with specilizes in selection (their value). The good news is confusion increases the need for experts.