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.