Predictions, predictions, predictions! Everyone in the media seems to have them around this time. You really get all kinds from who will win the Super Bowl to if socialite Paris Hilton will get pregnant.
I don’t know how valuable all these predictions from the various news outlets are, but we at IT World Canada, the publishers of CDN, strived to be specific and not general with our predictions. The editorial teams at CDN, ComputerWorld Canada, Network World Canada, and CIO magazines have made several bold and fearless predictions inside this edition of CDN.
My part of this project was to select the biggest channel opportunity for the year. I choose unified communications (UC) and I have provided several hard facts and market analysis on why I think this solutions play will be incredibly lucrative for solution providers, not just this year but in 2009 as well.
Predicting that UC will be strong in 2008 may not be the most fearless prediction ever, but I chose it for other reasons than it being a big revenue opportunity. Solution providers should not discount profit, but I believe that UC will be a differentiator for all channel partners in this country.
UC is still a greenfield of opportunity, but it’s also a way to say to the market: “Hey, I’m special. Look at me. This is what I can do. You need me and in a hurry.”
UC can position your company as special. Positioning is something channel partners don’t spend much time on. VARs have been seemingly unable to tell the market what kind of competitive edge their expertise or solutions give them.
I believe that UC, now more than ever, brings this opportunity to the channel community. Besides it being a growth area, channel partners can now position themselves in many ways as an expert in lets say unified messaging. UC is a multi-level solution that encompasses telephony, unified messaging, data infrastructure, desktop integration, wireless, softphone, landline communications and more.
For those channel partners who think they cannot compete with Dimension Data Canada or xWave, well, they can in a way. By focusing on one particular aspect of UC they can build a strong practice around that area.
Also, there are many vendors looking to the channel to establish their own position in the market. UC does not have to necessarily be a Cisco solution, a Microsoft solution or a Nortel solution.
According to IDC Canada, Mitel Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, AMD, EMC, Intel, HP, Motorola, Nokia, Oracle, Research In Motion, SAP, Samsung, Siemens, Sun Microsystems and Videotron all have UC solution offerings. Partnering with alternative vendors can position you as a big fish in a small pond.
My prediction for you this year is that you’d do well to position yourself somewhere inside the UC opportunity.