In UCaaS, Small is Big

A new report and podcast from Amy Lind, Research Manager with IDC’s Communications Services practice, has everyone talking about the “hidden” opportunity in UCaaS – SMBs.

Just today, Rich Tehrani from TMC observed how selling to SMBs creates more value for white label resellers:

As we’ve told you before, white-label in UCaaS and cloud phone systems can double the margins for resellers – perhaps from 20% to 40% and also increase the valuation of the reseller. The reason for the valuation bump has to do with the fact the reseller owns the relationship in this scenario so this revenue is more valuable to an acquirer.

And Peter Radizeski tweeted:

Of course, this is not news to the 350 SkySwitch resellers that are killing it in the market every day.  But it’s nice to see the rest of the world catching on.

Listen to Amy’s podcast here:

 

 

Selling UCaaS Has Never Been Easier, or Harder

 

Telecom industry expert and analyst Jon Arnold published a thoughtful article about selling UCaaS in which he observes that while interest from SMBs in buying cloud voice services is hot as ever, meeting that interest with a value proposition that resonates is not equally within reach for all providers.  Many providers have the technology, but struggle to put together the right sales and messaging.  Put another way, Jon’s research echoes what I say every day:  winning UCaaS business is cake if you have the right formula.

Not surprisingly, except for a select few, the providers that are seeing the most success are those that are part of a well executed channel strategy.  These providers can take advantage of scale to deliver a winning combination of technology and market positioning.

Jon calls out SkySwitch, Voyant and Intermedia as three examples of good channel execution.  

 

Savvy cloud providers have taken this to heart and recognized that the best way to support channels is to shore up those weaknesses. From my research, Voyant, SkySwitch, and Intermedia are good examples of this.

While I am pleased to be included in a grouping with much larger companies like Voyant and Intermedia, I would point out that SkySwitch is the only channel exclusive provider among the group.   As a white label solution provider, we never sell direct and we never compete with our channel.  As a result, we can be super focused on building strategies that let our reseller partners win deals against the bigger guys every day.  And our numbers bear this out, with SkySwitch resellers growing significantly faster than the industry average 18% CAGR.  Indeed it is difficult to find an engaged SkySwitch reseller that is not growing at high double or even triple digit rates annually.

And so, to paraphrase Jon’s conclusion: if you are looking to find a winning formula to sell UCaaS, do it the easy way and talk to SkySwitch first.

 

UCaaS Redundancy: Active-Active vs. Active-Spare

Last week we published a video to the SkySwitch YouTube Channel that explained the architecture of our geo-redundant network.  Soon afterwards, someone asked me how our redundant architecture is different from other white label UCaaS providers.   So, I made this short video to explain what distinguishes the SkySwitch network from our competitors.

 

 

The difference boils down to scalability and elasticity – two hallmarks of a true multi-tenanted cloud solution – made possible by our active-active architecture.  As network traffic grows, SkySwitch adds capacity by deploying additional active nodes. New nodes are added to an n-Share mesh and automatically become available to share call processing tasks across all nodes dynamically and with zero downtime.  This means that we can expand to accommodate growth with zero impact on the availability of services to end users.  With Skyswitch, endpoints can access identical service across multiple geographically diverse servers (geo-nodes) in real-time.

SkySwitch white label resellers have access to utilize any of our geo-nodes at any time because all the nodes are part of a mesh that distributes call events, and other information needed to support calling features, in real time.   With seamless and transparent failover between nodes, service disruptions are avoided because customer connections can be automatically transferred to any other nodes available.  This means that when a problem occurs, failover can be almost immediate.  Often, customers don’t even realize that a glitch occurred because the failover happens so quickly.

In contrast, other providers use an older method of redundancy called active-spare (or sometimes referred to as n+1).  With an active-spare network, only one server can be active at any time.  In the event of a problem all calling logic must be transferred to the spare server.  In a large network with hundreds of servers, failover requires a high degree of orchestration that can take precious time.   Providers that use active-spare technology require significantly more time to activate a spare server when a problem occurs.  This process can take hours and sometimes even days!

To learn more about the SkySwitch active-active geo-redundant network, view the original video here.

 

 

 

Finally, a White Label VoIP Network Assessment Tool

The SkySwitch team has been working hard to create a white label tool that can be used by UCaaS resellers for VoIP readiness testing, and to pre-qualify client sites before installation. Well, it’s finally ready and it’s called NPAT (short for Network Performance & Assessment Tool).

NPAT is a web-based application that can be run from a client’s network on any Windows or Mac computer.  After downloading a small plugin, the user can run three network assessment tests: Route, Speed and VoIP.  The VoIP test will simulate VoIP calls from the client’s network, and it lets you choose the number of concurrent calls and codec to use. It’s a great way to determine if a client’s Internet connection can handle the phone system you are proposing. It can also be used as a real-time troubleshooting tool when clients raise quality of service issues as it can be configured to send test results to an  email address that you specify.  Best of all, it can be branded to use your own logo and domain with just a few clicks, from the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.   To check out the unbranded version, browse on over to http://npat.skyswitch.com.

I am so excited about this web-based wonder that I made a short video to introduce it. Enjoy!

 

SkySwitch Meetings Now Support Video Conferencing Appliance

What happens when you combine the best in affordable video hardware with the best in cloud videoconferencing?   You get a fantastic new revenue opportunity for SkySwitch white label UCaaS Resellers.   That’s right, SkySwitch now offers a video conferencing solution for huddle rooms and meeting rooms that’s integrated with the Meeting Manager web and video conferencing application and other SkySwitch UCaaS applications.

The new solution, available for sale now from the SkySwitch store,  utilizes low-cost video hardware and an existing conference phone to add an exciting new dimension to the Meeting Manager web and video conferencing service.

It allows you to convert any meeting room into a high-definition video conferencing center.   When combined with a LCD displays, a SIP conference phone, USB webcam and bluetooth wireless keyboard/mouse, a high-quality video conferencing solution for small meeting and huddle rooms is readily available to any UCaaS customer.   With MSRP pricing below $2,000 (depending on the type of conference phone chosen) the solution outperforms systems costing more than twice as much.

Starting and managing a video conference is extremely easy.   And the system supports several meeting modes, including:

  • High-definition video conferences with up to 30 feeds across two LCD screens
  • Video webcasts for up to 100 viewing participants
  • Desktop sharing with annotation and file sharing

Participants outside of the conference room can join a web meeting or video conference from many different types of endpoints.  These include:  another huddle room equipped with the video conferencing appliance, a device with Meeting Manager client software (available on Windows, Mac, Apple iOS or Android); or even a Yealink T58 video phone.  In addition, a video meeting can be viewed from any web browser.  This makes it incredibly easy to bring colleagues together whether they are in a remote office, working from home, or on the road. 

Other features include the capability for any participant to record conference sessions directly to their device (the video room host can record sessions onto a USB drive), high definition video at 20 frames per second, the ability for any participant to be the presenter, and the ability for any on-net PBX extension to join as an audio-only participant.

With more features than systems costing significantly more, selling video conferencing for huddle rooms and has never been easier.

For more information, contact your account rep or the SkySwitch Control Tower.

ReachUC Chrome Extension Now Supports SkySwitch SMS and Fax

The ReachUC Chrome extension has been updated and now contains several useful new features.

Until today, the ReachUC Chrome extension provided a convenient way to make Click-to-Dial calls and schedule Meeting Manager meetings from within the Google Chrome browser.  With today’s update however, the extension now has a dialpad that can be used to make calls to any number (not just Click-to-Dial), send a fax, or send an SMS using your SMS-enabled DID.  The extension also now supports Click-to-Message for any phone number on a web page.

Accessing the dialpad is easy.  Just select it from the menu that’s shown when you click the ReachUC icon in the Chrome browser bar.

 

Once selected, you will be presented with a dialpad that allows you to enter a destination and then choose any of the three available actions:  Call, Send Fax , or Send SMS.

 

 

To use the Click-to-Message feature, simply choose the Message option that is available when hovering the mouse over any phone number in a web page.

 

To take advantage of these features, the relevant option must be enabled in the ReachUC Settings for a domain or user (see image below).   Also, in order to send SMS messages, an SMS-enabled DID must be assigned to the account user.

 

 

To download the ReachUC Chrome browser extension or for more information, visit the ReachUC website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SkySwitch Now Supports RTCP Extended Reports for Troubleshooting UCaaS

 

When troubleshooting UCaaS quality of service, getting access to a packet capture (or PCAP) for a problem call is always the first step.   Examining a packet capture with an analyzer such as Wireshark, is generally the only way to see what’s on the wire and verify that things are behaving as designed.

With voice quality issues, where you get the capture from is critical.  Just like traffic on a highway, congestion in a VoIP network can happen at any point along a route, and your vantage point when looking at it is critical to understanding what is going on.

A key benefit that SkySwitch offers to white label resellers is access to RTP-Sight, a network monitoring tool that provides packet captures and analytics for every call, and dramatically improves the troubleshooting process.   A limitation of RTP-Sight has been that packet captures are taken from the switch perspective, and can only tell half the story.   Packets sent from the switch to a SIP endpoint may be delayed en route, and this would not be visible in the switch-side packet capture.  In order to see what is truly going on, it is often necessary to get a packet capture from the end-customer site and then compare the two.  Often, this is the only way to see trouble introduced downstream from the switch (such in the last mile or on the customer’s local network).

However, getting a packet capture from the end-customer’s site is sometimes not a viable option because the UCaaS provider lacks access to the end-customer’s network, or does not have equipment with packet capturing capability.  And even if packet captures are available, encrypted RTP streams will preclude analysis.

SkySwitch now offers white label resellers another way to see what happened on the remote side of a call with the availability of RTCP and RTCP-XR statistics in RTP-Sight.  RTCP is a protocol that allows supported SIP phones to provide feedback on the quality of service from the perspective of the remote endpoint.  This is accomplished by configuring supported SIP endpoints to stream RTCP statistics to the RTP-Sight collector.  These statistics include information such as transmitted packet counts, packet loss, packet delay variation, round-trip delay time and MOS.  Access to such performance data for each IP phone makes it easier to diagnose problems remotely.  And because RTCP is sent in a separate stream from RTP, encrypting RTP packets does not obscure this data.

The chart below shows a sample RTCP report displaying aggregate RTCP statistics over a 24-hour period.

Per call RTCP reports are also available as part of each Call Detail Record. The table below shows the RTCP statistics received from a SIP phone with IP address xx.xx.60.19, telling us the jitter and loss experienced by that endpoint on the RTP stream received from 75.98,50.46.

 

SkySwitch currently collects RTCP and RTCP-XR reports from Yealink, Vtech and Polycom SIP endpoints.

 

 

 

 

Reseller Education for the SkySwitch Next Generation Communication Platform Leaps Forward with LiquidSMARTS

SkySwitch and LiquidSMARTS form a strategic partnership to provide product sales training with the benefit of micro-learning and electronic distribution.

TAMPA, FL, August 21, 2018  — Communication, telecom, IT service provider companies have little time to engage in product related learning, much less sales skills development. In partnership with LiquidSMARTS, SkySwitch is enabling resellers with the tools and techniques needed to increase sales and market share in this area.

Delivering effective marketing and sales training to a reseller network is difficult. Most organizations use annual conferences and webinar tools to educate the market about new products, services, features, and solutions. “There is a better way. By using the latest training platforms and a micro-learning approach, resellers can get “just the facts” and “here’s how to sell it” combined in a bite-sized lesson. That way best practices are spread around, and everyone can benefit,” said Gunter Wessels, Practice General Managers of LiquidSMARTS.

“Our platform delivers tremendous value to our resellers’ clients, and we are always adding new capabilities and with strong differentiation for our resellers. But we have to show them what’s in it for them quickly, and effectively. That’s why we are going down this pathway with our training. We are building custom lessons, and custom product training that shows our resellers how to accelerate the growth of their businesses today,” said Eric Hernaez, Founder of SkySwitch.

“We see our resellers as family. And we want to give them the very best tools and capabilities available, so that they can succeed. That’s why we are investing in the Vectors conference in Nashville, and launching this service there. October is going to be a very good month for all of us, and partnerships like this one with LiquidSMARTS have been our heritage; we invest in our resellers,” said Jayson Jones, VP of Business Development at SkySwitch.

“We bring the best of performance-based training in sales and marketing to our clients, in bite-sized pieces. If the resellers have got 3-5 minutes, we will show them the best practices in selling the SkySwitch portfolio of solutions,” said Jennifer Bravo, CEO of LiquidSMARTS.

“We are excited about the partnership with LiquidSMARTS. They’re committed and aligned with us, and share our goals. We look forward to the realizing the positive impact that this partnership will deliver,” added Hernaez.

Communication, telecom, IT service providers interested in learning more about the SkySwitch platform and solutions are encouraged to contact SkySwitch at www.skyswitch.com. Those interested in the best practices approach to data-driven training and development are encouraged to contact LiquidSMARTS at www.liquidsmarts.com/ask-us/. The company website provides an overview and a free monograph on the approach and case study examples.

 

About LiquidSMARTS

 

LiquidSMARTS, a Global Sales Training Company, has focused their practice discipline to target soft skill-oriented learning which is crucial to increasing any organizations’ sales volume. Comprehensive assessments and learning tools, including the “Forever Royalty Free Sales Process”, DealSMARTS, can be implemented within any company to increase revenue. Their innovative, micro-learning platform, OnTheGoSMARTS, is composed of diverse training materials with convenient access which compliments their full service approach to sales development and organizational success. Follow LiquidSMARTS on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

 

Visit LiquidSMARTS at www.liquidsmarts.com

 

About SkySwitch

 

SkySwitch is a US-based, next-generation communications platform provider. SkySwitch delivers a comprehensive white label communication service and back office support to our resellers. This enables our resellers – communication, telecom, IT service providers – to offer a branded, cloud-based, Hosted PBX Service and unified communications and collaboration services (UCCaaS) to their subscribers without the requirement to invest in or manage the platform from which the service is offered. The SkySwitch platform includes not only the infrastructure to deliver feature rich voice, video, text and fax communications, but also all operational and business support systems necessary for a reseller to experience rapid growth and profitability. This includes billing, carrier services, DID porting services, and regulatory compliance.

SkySwitch Enhances Business SMS with New SMS Keyword Responder

It’s no secret that I think Business SMS presents a fantastic opportunity for UCaaS providers to increase ARPU and make services stickier. Business owners know that  SMS is a valuable part of their lead acquisition and customer engagement process.  But today most SMS communication is done with a personal mobile device that is not integrated with their businesses phone system.   This is changing.

Business SMS brings the ability to integrate SMS communications with your PBX and other business communications systems.  In the future, not having the ability to communicate with your customers and prospects using Business SMS will be the equivalent of not having company email or a company website today.   We believe that Business SMS will soon equal the importance of the telephone and email as a critical communications channel between businesses and customers.

To that end, we have been working hard to launch our SMS Keyword Responder bot, the latest addition to our suite of Business SMS applications The video below is of a recent webinar that discusses how to sell the SMS Keyword Responder as part of an unbeatable UCaaS solution.

 

 

If you would like to learn how SkySwitch can help you sell Business SMS services to your user base, contact us today.

Learn How to Sell UCaaS at Vectors 2018 Nashville

As part of our ongoing quest to make our white-label partners more successful, SkySwitch is teaming up with LiquidSMARTS to bring sales training to its resellers.  The topic for this year’s keynote speech, “Upselling, Cross Selling and Service Failure Recovery”,  was chosen to address a concern shared by every SkySwitch partner – how to sell more effectively.    Dr. Wessels and the team at LiquidSMARTS create timely, digestible and effective sales training programs.  This keynote speech will leave you with practical and actionable  techniques that you can use to sell more to your existing customers.  It will also inspire and chart a course to ignite the sales process in your organization.

 

 

Learning how to sell UCaaS more effectively is just one of the many reasons why you should not miss Vectors 2018 Nashville. For more information visit the Vectors 2018 website here.

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