My next conference is SMBNation in Las Vegas. This is an interesting show geared toward IT experts serving small businesses. Voice for this group has always been a step child, and many of them got burned with Microsoft’s prior SMB voice solution: ResponsePoint.
This group looks heavily to Microsoft for guidance as Microsoft often represents their most significant vendor relationship. Microsoft has created several new initiatives aimed at small business, particularly through the channel – but voice hasn’t been part of that focus. It seems pretty clear to me that LyncOnline will be targeted to this market, but not yet. And even when it that changes, will it be the right mix of technology, user features, and price?
The SMB market is far more price focused that larger businesses, but their voice requirements are often just as grandiose. Small businesses can’t assume the main number will always be attended and rely on their mobile devices as much or more than larger organizations. The big difference is they are more likely to go hosted than larger businesses. Hosted makes a lot of sense for this demographic – the services are maturing – but their channel programs are still a work in process.
I will provide a view of what’s happening in voice, some channel opportunities, and where I think the best revenue opportunities exist. SMBNation is the brainchild of Harry Brelsford who realized that the unique needs of small IT services providers were being underserved. The conference has grown tremendously over the years.
Link for the conference: http://fall.smbnation.com/ (warning: it auto plays sound).
GS6 – Hello Voice
Dave MichelsOffering both voice and data services to your customers can increase loyalty, profit, and customer retention- or the exact opposite. Turns out there are reasons why voice and data were separate for so long; like oil and water. But it doesn’t have to be. This session will cover the voice opporunity, customer expectations, the pitfalls, and tech trends.
This session will take a look at why its imperative to offer voice on the line card, and how to do it successfully and profitably. Topics include voice services in general, where the technology is headed, customer expectations, business models, and a look at how customer expectations are driving both premise and hosted solutions. Technical topics include firewalls, SIP, power, wireless, codecs, and QoS as well discussion around hosted, premise, and virtual.
When done properly, a converged solution benefits the customer and the dealer. The session will also cover emerging solutions such as Lync and Skype. The tips learned may also apply to your own business.
GS7 – Technology Panel
Dave Michels, Anurag Agrawal, Dana Epp, Amy BabinchakDon’t miss THE PANEL – an SMB Nation tradition that brings together MPVs, gurus, subject matter experts and YOU. Following the untraditional unconference format – YOU are the session. It’s a fast-paced, free-flowing format that, with minimal moderating and prodding, allows mere mortals to mingle with the best of the best. Asset yourself by asking your questions and get your answers! No “dead air” and be ready for the casual Hallway 101 conversations that follow this impactful session. This is a PowerPoint-free zone.
See also: My events calendar.