ActionURLs with Zapier and Slack

As promised! An ActionURL video with Zapier where I set up integrations with Google Sheets, Email and Slack. I really appreciated the emails and feedback on the last video showing the Philips Hue integration through IFTTT. The feedback led me to include several things in this video; such as where to find documentation, auto-provisioning, and some troubleshooting basics. While the Philips Hue integration might have sparked your interest, this video may help you realize more of the potential behind using ActionURLs. The possibilities of what you can do with ActionURLs are nearly endless, it’s only limited by your imagination.

ActionURLs can be configured on just about any brand of VoIP phone, where they send an HTTP GET or POST request to a URL. The URL that you send to is called a Webhook, which is just waiting for information from the GET or POST. Without any development experience, you can use tools like IFTTT and Zapier to trigger another action, like change your Slack status! Utilizing ActionURLs can really set you apart from the competition, including the big Telco guys.

I’m adding timestamps in case you are interested in jumping to a specific topic. I cover creating a call log with Google Sheets (2:19), creating emails when a phone loses registration (13:39), and changing your status in Slack by your phones activity (19:47).

 

The Github Tool that I mention in this video can be found at here

On-Premise to Cloud Migration: Porting Made Easy

As Caitlyn Long, Product Marketing Manager at Bandwidth, wrote a few months back: Porting telephone numbers doesn’t have to be painful. 

For many resellers, porting numbers is one of those unavoidable nuisances you have to get through when moving telephony services to the cloud. SkySwitch supplier Bandwidth has made the experience a bit easier and as a DID partner of SkySwitch, that means resellers can take advantage of the process that Long recommended to make migrating from on-premise to the cloud as quick and painless as possible.

The Top 3 Problems With Porting

One of the top issues resellers can experience with porting is unpredictable downtime. In the telecom industry, disruptions are a business killer. Especially if a client customer experiences downtime during an important meeting, phone call or big presentation. 

Another pitfall many resellers experience when migrating a customer from on-prem to the cloud is the lack of control when it comes to migrating in a strategic way. Oftentimes, resellers find themselves stuck with the inability to move groups over all at once, like a certain department or building. This can be tedious and cause frustrating delays in migration.

And, the final issue that many fear: the update is (nearly) irreversible. It’s not that rolling back phone numbers is impossible, but it can be an incredibly lengthy and time-consuming process that can stress out even the most level-headed. 

Related Blog Post: Growth Predictions for Cloud Hosting in 2020

The Porting Solution for Seamless Migration to the Cloud

So, how do resellers alleviate all these issues and minimize the problems associated with migrating a customer from a traditional PBX to the cloud? Simply follow the three steps below. A little prep-work ahead of time will save you from headaches galore.

  1. Create a redundant path that ensures uninterrupted service while you’re porting numbers. This can be achieved by plugging in a SkySwitch SIP trunk side by side with your legacy trunk.
  2. Freely port your numbers without concern of service disruption. Bandwidth powers cloud applications and platforms you move to, like SkySwitch, so by taking that step above and plugging in a SkySwitch trunk, you save yourself the headaches.
  3. Now that porting’s all taken care of, you can go ahead and schedule the migration based on your own custom parameters (date, time, department, location, etc.)

With Bandwidth as one of SkySwitch’s DID partners, SkySwitch Resellers are equipped with yet another meaningful advantage when it comes to migrating customers from on-prem to the cloud, and succeeding with UCaaS.

ReachUC On iOS Is the Mobile Worker’s Dream

BY JASON HARRISREVIEWS EDITOR

The wired phone that sits on your desk is a thing of the past, right? No! Not in business! We use deskphones to call colleagues down the hall, the front desk or to ring co-workers anywhere around the globe.

However, with more of the workforce going ‘mobile’, either working from home part-time, out of other offices or co-working spaces, the deskphone is rapidly being replaced by mobile phones. While this is a handy solution, and really can meet mobile worker’s basic needs – let’s face it, it’s a chore to carry around multiple mobile phones, one for personal and the other for work. Add to it that not everyone wants to divulge a personal mobile number to co-workers, clients or similar, and you have a problem in need of a solution.

In response, there is a solution. It’s the ‘softphone’ – which is an app that you install on your iPhone. The softphone enables you to dial extensions, listen to voicemail and use your work number – just as if you’re in the office talking into a regular deskphone. 

In recent weeks, I’ve been testing SkySwitch’s recommended ReachUC app on my iPhone.

ReachUC Overview

Getting started with ReachUC is quite easy – simply download the app from the App Store. Login by using your username and password obtained from your IS or IT group. Your login will be similar to the following: 4444@yourcompanyname.

After you log-in and launch ReachUC, you’ll be presented with the simple, easy-to-use user experience.

With ReachUC, it’s simple to:

  • Place calls to extensions and regular phone numbers. Your caller ID will appear to your callers as coming from your work extension, presenting the same number.
  • Receive calls – they’ll appear on your iPhone screen just like a regular phone call
  • Enable in-call actions such as adding a third person, transferring the call, putting the call on hold, etc
  • Message using text-messaging (SMS) exchanges directly in the app – which is perfect for quick notes, reminders, etc.
  • Make video calls if the person you call is on a video-capable device – and make distributed team members feel not-so-far away

If you’re in a place with spotty cellular data or crummy WiFi, such as a hotel or conference room floor, ReachUC has a fantastic option: the ‘callback’ and ‘GSM Call’ will force the outgoing call to use your mobile carrier (not using IP to route the call). 

Call and ReachUC Performance

Sure – ReachUC has features, but how does it perform as a calling app?

To put this to the test, I was using the app on an older iOS handset – an iPhone 6s and I witnessed outstanding app performance and user experience. I used the app to call SkySwitch colleagues at their desk on Grandstream handsets, traditional phones in Singapore, the UK and the US and mobile phones in the US and Canada. Each time I used ReachUC paired with SkySwitch – the calls were crystal clear. I experienced no call dropouts, muted callers or other annoyances.

The in-call controls let me mute calls, transfer to other colleagues and conduct three-way calls. The app’s performance was solid and predictable.

Are you concerned with your iPhone’s battery life? Me too. Much like the ReachUC Android app, ReachUC on iOS uses push notifications to alert you to new calls and messages, which means the app doesn’t maintain a constant connection to your company’s servers, draining your battery at the same time.

Tips for the best experience

ReachUC is built to be very user-friendly, even for those not so tech savvy. Here are some tips I’d offer to ensure an easy getting going experience:

  • Ensure you can get ahold of your IT/support team in case you can’t get signed in to ReachUC after you first install it and run it for the first time. 
    • You’ll likely just need your username and password and will be all set after this – but, just in case, have IT available via phone call or in-person.
  • Set ReachUC as an application on your phone’s home screen for easy access. There’s nothing more annoying than having to hunt for an application you’re going to be using on a routine basis during your workday.
  • Have younger folks that you work with (you know – those under 40?). Be sure to use ReachUC’s messaging capability. If you have a quick question or need to ping your colleague – send them a short note rather than calling and leaving a voicemail. 😂

So – now go download ReachUC for iOS and enjoy your deskphone on your trusty iPhone!

ReachUC Is An Ideal Business Cloud Voice Softphone

BY JASON HARRIS, REVIEWS EDITOR

Many ‘modern’ businesses have begun eliminating the desk phone. You know, the one that sits in your office/cubicle and enables you to dial extensions to reach co-workers, departments and colleagues? As the workforce has become increasingly mobile with co-working and work-from-home arrangements in the last decade or two, business phones on the desk are becoming a thing of the past. 

Instead, 21st-century workers use mobile phones, either their own, or one provided by their company.

The convenience of being mobile sounds fantastic, but there are downsides. Some employees either don’t always feel comfortable divulging a personal mobile phone number to colleagues and co-workers as their work number due to privacy or confidentiality reasons, or they simply don’t like carrying around two mobile phones.

Enter the ‘softphone’ – or, a phone line/number that works as an app on your Android mobile or iPhone that enables you to dial extensions and use your work number presented to caller ID – just as if you’re in the office ‘chained’ to your regular desk phone.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been testing SkySwitch’s recommended ReachUC application on my Samsung Galaxy S9+. 

ReachUC Overview

Installing ReachUC is easy – download the app from the Play Store and log in using your credentials which can be obtained from your IT department. Your login will be something that looks like this: 1234@yourcompany.com

Then, authorize the ReachUC app to use permissions such as call management and more. These are necessary for the app to function properly on the mobile phone.

Once you install the app, you’ll see the straight-forward, easy-to-use user interface.

With ReachUC, you can:

  • Make calls as if you’re in the office at your desk phone. They’ll appear to your callers as coming from your work extension, presenting the same number.
  • Receive calls – they’ll appear on your Android’s screen just like a regular call
  • Message using text-messaging like exchanges directly in the app
  • Make video calls if the person you call is on a video-capable device
  • Conduct in-call actions such as adding a third person, transferring the call, putting the call on hold, etc

One stand-out feature of ReachUC for me is the ‘callback’ or ‘GSM call’ option. If you’re on spotty Wi-Fi or in an area with a bad data connection, you can use these options to place the call through your mobile carrier, (not an IP or VoIP) when you’re trying to reach a colleague’s extension or dial out. For those who have used Google Voice to make calls, you’ll see the similarity.

Call and ReachUC App Performance

I used ReachUC over the past few weeks to call SkySwitch colleagues via their desk phones and also called them while they’ve used the ReachUC app on their mobile phones. I’ve made international calls to landlines and mobile numbers in the UK, Singapore and all over the United States. Every time I used ReachUC, the calls were crystal clear with no dropouts, no muted callers or anything of the sort.

I put the in-call controls to use by muting calls, placing the call on hold and transferring calls – the app performed flawlessly each time.

My favorite aspect of ReachUC, however, is the amazing fact that this app uses minimal battery life. Because it is built to use push notifications and not maintain an always-on data connection to your company’s PBX (the server that handles call management), ReachUC doesn’t drain your battery like most Internet calling applications. This feature alone makes ReachUC stand out in the competitive landscape and adds so much convenience for ReachUC users worldwide.

Tips to Pass On

Using ReachUC is super easy, even for non-tech savvy office phone users. 

However, here are a few tips to make your ReachUC experience top-notch.

  • Approve all the permissions ReachUC requests upon your first app launch. These include mic access and the ability to make calls. Don’t worry – the app isn’t nefarious – it needs mic access to enable you to talk and be heard during a phone call. 😀
  • Have IT as a resource in case you can’t get signed in to ReachUC after you first install it and run it for the first time. You’ll likely just need your username and password and will be all set after this – but, just in case, have IT available via phone call or in-person.
  • Set ReachUC as an application on your phone’s home screen for easy access. There’s nothing more annoying than having to hunt for an application you’re going to be using on a routine basis during your workday.
  • In ReachUC you can take advantage of much needed mobile compatible SMS, and one more great addition in ReachUC. Faxing. While you don’t fax as much today as in the past, and fax machines are becoming a dying breed like the desk phone, the addition of it in ReachUC is a big, added plus.

Now – go install ReachUC for your Android or iPhone and enjoy your desk phone on your mobile!

Webhooks, Actions URLs and Smart Lights

I’ve had ‘Create ActionURL explainer video’ on my personal todo list for years, mostly because I don’t think enough people are really using ActionURLs in our industry. ActionURLs have been around for a long time, and it might be something that you overlook when you’re in the WebUI of your phone, but you really shouldn’t. ActionURLs give you a big leg up against other phone companies by expanding your ability to customize for your customers.

I find myself somewhat obsessed with smart home technology almost as much as VoIP. I spend too much time thinking about what I can do next and how I can bring the different pieces together to make life just a little easier. So it was a natural choice to use IFTTT and Philips Hue Smart Lights as a BLF-like mechanism for the purpose of education.

Outside of changing colors on lightbulbs, the possibilities are almost endless with ActionURLs. Some examples of things I’ve done in the past include: Logging missed calls to a google sheet, generating notifications for registration drops to help troubleshoot a Local Network issue, or to log when certain end customers put their phone in DND (when they swear they weren’t doing it). If you can think of it, you can probably do it, I hope this video makes life a little easier for you!

 

3 Lucky SkySwitch Resellers Won Admission to Vectors 2020 — Was It You?

Today, Eric Hernaez, President and Founder of SkySwitch, announced the three lucky winners of free Vectors 2020 admission. 

 

About a month ago, we sent out a survey to all Vectors 2019 attendees to collect their impressions about this year’s event. Every reseller who completed the survey was automatically entered into a special drawing to be one of three lucky winners of Vectors 2020 registration, courtesy of SkySwitch.

 

Watch the video below to see just who the lucky winners are.

Congratulations to our lucky resellers!

And a big thanks to everyone who completed our Vectors’ survey. We’ve read every single response and will be taking your comments, suggestions and ideas to make Vectors 2020 even bigger and better.

SkySwitch Wrapped 2019 – A Year in Review

2019 was a huge year for SkySwitch — not only for our team but for our entire reseller community and the ever-expanding partner ecosystem. Without you, our favorite moments of the year wouldn’t have been possible. So, let’s ring in 2020 together by taking a moment to celebrate the best of 2019. (Because if 2019 was really good, 2020 is only going to get better from here.)

We Launched New Technologies & Integrations to Support You

2019 was a busy year for SkySwitch’s technology team. For starters, we launched two integrations to help support our reseller community. The first one, debuted in April, was our Business SMS with Rocket.Chat that helps make real-time team collaboration easier. 

As a white label, channel-only platform, creating tools that make branding easier for our resellers is always top of mind. So in March, we made it easier for resellers to pre-qualify client sites before installation with our release of the NPAT, a white label Network Performance & Assesment Tool. With just a few simple clicks in your Dashmanger, this tool can be completely customized with your own branding.  

Another area where we improved branding functionality can be found within the SkySwitch Dashmanager. With new UI configurations and functionalities rolled out this month, now SkySwitch resellers can easily control the look and feel of their own consumer-facing portals. Before this self-service functionality, portal branding was behind-the-scenes and created for resellers by the SkySwitch support team. Now, resellers have greater control over how they decide to present their portal to their customers. This new set of branding features also allows resellers the ability to better manage their brand images and templates, such as welcome emails, and the automation of each file’s purpose. 

 

One more major feature we’ve rolled out this year is a robust set of HIPAA reporting capabilities directly within the SkySwitch Dashmanager. Released in December, HIPAA reporting with detailed records of call logs, voicemail listens and virtual fax views are all easily accessible. In addition to reporting, resellers can easily manage HIPAA compliant features for customers who need to adhere to those stricter regulatory guidelines.

We Met Up at 4 Industry Trade Shows

In February, Eric Hernaez, Founder and President of SkySwitch, spoke in the panel discussion DIY: Building a Next-Gen Carrier at IT Expo in Ft.Lauderdale, FL to help keep the channel updated on what’s new in telecom. 

Later, in March, we took a trip over to the west coast where SkySwitch exhibited at Channel Partners in Las Vegas. 

We have thoroughly enjoyed these face-to-face interactions — both new and old. This means you can expect to see us traveling around and attending many more shows next year. If you’re interested in meeting with us face-to-face at upcoming roadshows, conferences and events, make sure to subscribe below to our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

 

We Connected With the ConnectWise Community

SkySwith hit the road again in June and traveled to Orlando, FL to exhibit at ConnectWise’s IT Nation Explore. Attendees at Explore experienced hands-on product training, innovation sneak peeks, breakout sessions and more — which made it the perfect platform to rollout our ConnectWise Manage integration, certified by ConnectWise’s Invent program. This was our first big splash into the ConnectWise community, and the SkySwitch momentum around ConnectWise just kept rolling from here.

In July, we attended ConnectWise’s quarterly Invent event in Tampa, FL to learn more about what we can be doing to improve our integration for ConnectWise users. Through the valuable feedback from ConnectWise Account Managers, who interact with ConnectWise users on a daily basis, we were able to make integration improvements that directly benefit those many MSPs who rely daily on ConnectWise.

All of this research and relationship-building was preparation for sponsoring ConnectWise’s largest event of the year: IT Nation Connect at the end of October. This is where SkySwitch truly linked arms with the ConnectWise community and showcased how easy and profitable it is for MSPs to resell telecom with SkySwitch. We also introduced our special SIP trunking offer for 3CX resellers.

Growth Machine: SkySwitch Community, The Club 1,000 and an Expanded Executive Team

We’re happy to say that this year,  160 new resellers have joined the SkySwitch community so far — and already 30 resellers have reached the ranks of Club 1,000, a VIP SkySwitch reseller group, that recognizes the hard work, performance and success of the top resellers who have reached 1,000 customer seats or more.

It’s not just our Reseller Network that has seen growth. SkySwitch as an organization has been expanding too. This year we added 27 new employees to the SkySwitch family and have brought in two new additions to the executive team: Harlan Hamlin, VP of Business Development, and Andy Abramson, Chief Marketing Officer.

And We Can’t Forget About the Event of the Year: Vectors 2019

Vectors was undoubtedly one of the largest highlights of the year. Every year, since 2016, we’ve brought the SkySwitch community together at our user-group conference to empower resellers with the knowledge, best practices and valuable business connections needed to succeed in the UCaaS space. But don’t just take our word for it, look at some of the media coverage that seemed to never stop, running a full twelve days after Vectors had concluded:

Since our inaugural event in 2016, we’ve gone from a small group of SkySwitch resellers gathering together to now over 300 in attendance. A bigger audience means bigger expectations, and our team worked hard to step up to the plate with 3 industry-expert keynote speakers, more educational sessions than ever before, and a rocking annual dinner party with Grammy nominee, Julian Marley, who performed a private concert for SkySwitch resellers at the Hard Rock Live on Universal Studios’ CityWalk.

We Moved On Up: New Tampa Headquarters

SkySwitch also outgrew our original Tampa HQ. So we went out and found a new corporate headquarters in the Westshore area of Tampa. With the rapid expansion of service offerings and of our growing team, this new space, fully-equipped with real-time collaboration technologies, was a necessary move to continue sustaining this growth. 

We’ve been on a lot of exciting adventures with you this past year, and we truly owe it all to each and every one of you in the reseller community. Thank you.

Get ready for new and exciting things to come in 2020: more events and trade shows, more webinars, more of just about everything.

Happy Holidays. Happy New Year. Happy Next Year, from….

Your SkySwitch Team

Twilio Studio Integration for IVRs with Speech Recognition

Our Senior Platform Engineer, Jim DeVito, introduced Twilio Studio to a group of resellers at Vectors 2019 in a breakout session. I missed the session but walked in at the end and saw a group of people standing around Jim, asking him questions. I could see the excitement in the room and knew I missed something very interesting. I decided to dig in myself, but I’d like to offer a big thanks to Jim for the introduction and getting the most difficult part out of the way!

Twilio Studio has a very interesting way for you to build IVRs with Speech Recognition, which is wonderful because you’ve been asking about it! As we discussed at Vectors, we already had speech recognition in our roadmap, but this Twilio Integration gives you access to these types of features if you need them today.

The Twilio Studio concept is fairly simple, it allows you to build IVRs with a graphical flow chart without a need to do any programming. While the concept is simple, the program itself is complex, yet well thought out and intuitive. After 30 minutes of playing around and building a clone of SkySwitch’s main Auto-Attendant with speech recognition, I felt that I had a good understanding of the Studio and I found myself overwhelmed by thoughts of the possibilities.

Most people don’t have the time to look at other products, like Twilio Studio, so after playing with one for a while I felt it was necessary to share it with you and make the integration as easy as possible. You can see step-by-step instructions, and a video how-to in our help docs: https://docs.skyswitch.com/en/articles/752.

I hope the video and article makes life easier for you. The next step will be to show you how we can use webhooks to integrate SkySwitch, most of our phones, and Twilio Studio with things like Slack or IFTTT!

 

What Vectors Is All About: Reseller Success, Relationships and Growth

Jayson Jones, VP of Sales for SkySwitch discusses the success and growth of SkySwitch’s telecom reseller network. 

In this Vectors 2019 interview, TMC’s Editorial Director, Erik Linask, speaks with Jayson Jones, Vice President of Sales at SkySwitch. Hear why Jayson Jones considers SkySwitch to be a pioneer of true channel-only, white label telecom, and how that translates into the cutting-edge content offered to MSPs, VARs, agents and resellers at Vectors 2019. Learn why this year’s user-group conference doubled in size, and how it’s projected to do so again in 2020. 

Erik Linask and Jayson Jones talk about the importance of building strong relationships within the reseller community.

Full Video Transcript Below:

Erik Linask  0:07  
We’re here in Orlando at Vectors 2019. And joining me now this afternoon now, Jayson Jones from SkySwitch. Jayson, thanks for joining me.

 

Jayson Jones  0:15  
Thank you very much, Erik. Glad to be here.

 

Erik Linask  0:17  
So, you know, we’re getting close to wrapping up day one of this year’s event. You know, talk to me a little bit about what you’re hearing from some of your partners.

 

Jayson Jones  0:28  
Absolutely. The SkySwitch resellers that are at the event this year, they’re just really appreciative of the extent that we’ve gone to set this event up, bring in the amount of sponsors we’ve had. I mean, it’s just been a tremendous response from sponsors wanting to join the SkySwitch event and get access into our reseller channel because it is a very lucrative opportunity for them.

 

Erik Linask  0:53  
What have you done different? What have you changed about Vectors since last year?

 

Jayson Jones  0:56  
Well, the event has really grown. And we’re really, really proud of that. And we’re happy about that. But you know, a few things that have changed, we’ve had a few resellers that came on very quickly, and they wanted to sign and they wanted to use the Vectors event as an onboarding platform for them. To kind of springboard them into the onboarding platform. So, we got them signed, as a matter of fact, Compudyne out of Minnesota signed on Friday. They made their first payment and we got their Dashmanager built, and now they’re directly onboarding right now with our team.

 

Erik Linask  1:35  
Well, that’s certainly impressive. And congratulations on that. What kind of benefits did they get from not only onboarding that quickly, but onboarding here at Vectors?

 

Jayson Jones  1:45  
The culture really came naturally to us. As a management team, we just have a strong feeling for caring for our partners. So having them exposed to that and being able to see that firsthand and kind of see how we interact with each other. And the commitment between the partnership, reseller to platform provider is just very unique.

 

Erik Linask  2:10  
How much do you think that environment has contributed to not only the growth of your event, but the growth of your partner community in general?

 

Jayson Jones  2:20  
I think it’s contributed tenfold. They rely on us to keep developing technology and innovating at a high rate. And just so they can go out there and really compete in the marketplace. But when they come together here, not only do they get introduced to new technologies and the roadmap of where we’re going in the next year in 2020, but you know, they get exposed to being able to ask support questions and marketing questions and, onboarding questions with team members from every department. They get exposed to our marketing teams too, so the communication and mutual communication, reciprocal communication is very, very good.

 

Erik Linask  3:05  
How much feedback, or how much commentary or wish list type things, go into planning an event like Vectors? As far as you know, what your partners and resellers are looking for?

 

Jayson Jones  3:19  
That’s, that’s kind of ironic because they really don’t give much input as to what we’re going to do because we seem to be really blowing their minds every year. With all the new content and what we’re coming up with. We’re really cutting edge, I think, in the White Label space. We like to think that we’re the pioneers of white label and we’re really innovating at a very tremendous and fast rate. 

So when they come here, I think they don’t have any expectations beyond, “There’s going to be something new, there’s going to be something exciting, we’re going to learn something, and we’re gonna be able to take back nuggets of information that are just going to benefit their business.”

 

Erik Linask  3:58  
So from a business perspective and, in particular, a partner’s businesses, what would you say really is the biggest goal here at Vectors?

 

Jayson Jones  4:08  
The biggest goal here at Vectors is just to build relationship with our customers. We’re a 100% remote workforce. We don’t go out and see our customers at all. Every conversation that we have, it could be by either audio conference or webinar. Sometimes we do a video conference, but generally, it’s just a phone conversation. 

So we don’t really get that face-to-face time with them. When we gather everybody together, and know that only a quarter of our resellers are here, but we get that opportunity just to get that good face-to-face time with them that just allows us to relate. To build relationships, socialize, have some fun, get to know each other.

 

Erik Linask  4:55  
And how do you see Vectors 2019 pushing you forward into 2020?

 

Jayson Jones  5:01  
Very good question. I think with TMCs assistance this year, and management, this event is probably going to really blow up. We see this event probably doubling next year. So we’re looking at about what 350 attendees this year going to 750. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem next year. So with that, we’re glad that you guys are here helping us because there is no possible way we’d be able to manage the whole thing ourselves.

 

Erik Linask  5:29  
Well, thanks, Jayson. Thanks for including us and having us here. And we certainly look forward to helping you enjoy some more growth in the future. 

 

Jayson Jones  5:36  
It’s been my pleasure. Thank you for the time




How Telecom Resellers and MSPs Can Stand Out Against National Brands: It’s All About the Relationships

SkySwitch President and Founder discusses success strategies and the projected growth of white label cloud communications.

In this Vectors 2019 interview, TMC’s Editorial Director, Erik Linask, speaks with Eric Hernaez, President and Founder of SkySwitch, to learn more about the success behind SkySwitch and SkySwitch’s Vectors events. Listen to behind-the-scenes information about how our ecosystem and partner relationships benefit the SkySwitch reseller community — specifically when it comes to local telecom resellers becoming competitive in the UCaaS market.

Eric Hernaez attributes the growth of Vectors to SkySwitch’s strong relationships and to the overall growth of the white label cloud communications industry. 

Full Video Transcript Below:

Erik Linask  0:07  
We’re here in Orlando, Florida at Vectors 2019. That’s SkySwitch’s annual user conference. And joining me this morning is SkySwitch President Eric Hernaez. Welcome, Eric.

 

Eric Hernaez  0:20  
Thanks, Erik.

 

Erik Linask  0:21  
So a lot of exciting things going on. You know, there just seems to be an awful lot of energy. Everybody that I’ve spoken to, some of the SkySwitch team, some of your partners, your resellers – there just seems to be so much excitement and energy. Where does that come from?

 

Eric Hernaez  0:38  
I agree. It’s been a great show so far, very exciting. I think the energy is because people feel like they’re here to learn something and they’ve been successful in their business and they see this as another path to improving their success. 

We started the show off three and a half years ago here in Orlando. We had about 36 people here, and most of those 36 people who were at our first show are here today. And we have well over 300 here today. And so, you know, they see the growth, they see the new partners coming in, they see the excitement of the new partners, and it all just sort of builds on itself.

 

Erik Linask  1:15  
Right. When I spoke with Jayson earlier this week, he’s certainly keen on continuing to grow the event. He mentioned doubling it again for next year. But what’s driving that kind of momentum and growth within your partner community?

 

Eric Hernaez  1:26  
Well, I think really, it’s just the growth of the industry. Our business is helping our channel. We’re a channel-only white label provider of a UCaaS platform, and so our customers are typically MSPs or interconnects who have been selling on premise PBX systems. And we’re really giving them a new business model. 

We’re giving them a way to realize monthly recurring revenue and to sell a great service under their own brand, where they totally own the customer relationship. It’s their name on the website, it’s their name on the bill, you know, and we help them behind the scenes, but it’s their business. And so this is a new opportunity for a lot of them. And I think it’s just exciting to be part of that.

 

Erik Linask  2:14 
What are the kinds of things that you’re looking to provide or offer when it comes to your resellers?

 

Eric Hernaez  2:23  
Well, you know, our business model is to be a channel-only white label platform for telecom service providers. UCaaS, Unified Communication as a Service, is what our partners sell to their end users. And really, SkySwitch is all about just helping them to become successful. So giving the, not only the platform and the technology tools that they need to compete with the big guys out there in the market, but all the other stuff that goes around that. The business processes, the training and just the tips and on how to be successful. 

There’s a lot of stuff that goes into selling telecom services. And many of our customers come from businesses where they might be MSPs who are selling, you know, IT related services or interconnects who are selling traditional PBXs. So they’re somewhat involved in the industry, but not really selling it as a provider. Because our customers, they sell the service under their own name and when the bill goes out, their name is on the bill. So they’re completely responsible for that relationship with their customer. 

So that brings with it some responsibilities that are new. So what we try to do is we try to figure out all of the different things that go into making a successful UCaaS service provider and then you know, wherever there’s gaps or deficiencies or just you know, areas for improvement with our customer base, we help them try to fill it. And going into why this has been successful, I think they appreciate that.

 

Erik Linask  3:56  
What are the kinds of things that SkySwitch offers through, not only your own platform but the community as a whole, that really allows your partners to compete against some of the larger known brands?

 

Eric Hernaez  4:11  
Well for one, it comes down to features. You know, in the UCaaS business, you have the big nationwide players and they have nice platforms, with lots of bells and whistles. So at first, you have to be able to compete at that level. You know, you have to be able to walk into a potential customer’s office and say, “Yeah, you know, we can do all of that.” But then in addition, what makes our partner community especially successful is most of our partners are smaller owner operated MSPs and Interconnects, and it’s usually the business owner that’s out there talking to other business owners. 

Our sweet spot is the SMB market. So that’s 250 seats and under, and usually our partner can walk in there, talk to the business owner and and provide the kind of face-to-face interaction with knowledge of their business that the larger nationwide brands can’t do. For them, they’re built to scale, right. And it’s mostly faceless selling, you know, and they ship equipment. And there’s really no interaction, they don’t know, the receptionist is really used to pressing this button to do this, and that changes. But our partners, are able to get out there and actually speak to the receptionist, and using the tools, we provide them customize a service. So it’s exactly what they want it to be.

 

Erik Linask  5:32  
So, one of the things that we’ve seen this week is a couple of announcements. But just going back over the past several months and 6, 12 months, there are a lot of exciting things that SkySwitch is doing with partners. Like the relationship with one of your big sponsors here Adaptiv Networks around SD-WAN. How does your relationship with companies like that really benefit your resellers?

 

Eric Hernaez  5:59  
So our philosophy is to find the best providers of specific platforms. And then our job is to integrate them and make them work in a way that works for our partners. And so, one of the things we do, is with Adaptiv we found a great SD-WAN solution that kind of speaks to the part of the market that our partners play in. 

We’ve done a lot of integration so that our partners can order and provision the services and manage them, in a way that’s easy to them. And then not actually have to manage invoicing and billing for them at the end of the month. And so that’s what we try and do with every part of our platform. From just the UCaaS seat to our call center application to our video surveillance as a service, or our Business SMS tools. All of it is built in a way that’s very manageable, but also customizable by our partners so that they can really fit the needs of their customers.

 

Erik Linask  7:02  
What do you do as an organization to continue to build your partner base?

 

Eric Hernaez  7:07  
Well, it’s a very dynamic business. I think the trend is that most businesses, they say digital transformation, but the cloud is a big word. And most small medium sized businesses need to compete with the larger versions of themselves, the nationwide brands. So it’s about giving them, our partners and the end customers, the tools that allow them to compete. So as more and more platforms and solutions and services move to the cloud, now they can talk to each other. So our job is to make it easier for them to talk to each other so that you realize the productivity gains that come along with UCaaS service.

 

Erik Linask  7:49  
So there’s still a huge addressable market of SMBs that have not migrated to Voice Over IP or cloud or not. What do you have to say to that community and why should they be looking at the partners and local resellers that you’re working with?

 

Eric Hernaez  8:05  
Absolutely. Well, I think most people, maybe if not explicitly, inherently know that the reason most people are moving to the cloud, is it’s just a better way to do business. You don’t have to worry about buying something and it becoming obsolete. It’s easier in a lot of ways to consume services as a service and pay for what you use. 

I guess why many small businesses fail to take advantage of that is because they don’t have a path. They don’t really know, “how do I get there”, right? And technology is confusing. There’s so many players out there and it’s very difficult to find a way to stitch these systems together.

So what I say to those types of companies is, “there are local partners out there that you can find that will help you do that”. And SkySwitch partners are of course a great resource, but just in general, the MSP business, if you go to your IT provider and say, “Hey, you know, what do I do to move to the cloud?” And maybe your MSP doesn’t yet have a strategy, but maybe they can find one.

 

Erik Linask  9:19  
So I’ve spent a lot of time talking to your team. A lot of your partners here, and everybody’s just had nothing but great things to say about what’s going on here this week, how the SkySwitch team has helped the reseller community. Is there anything about this week and the event that really stands out to you as far as why we’re seeing such a huge level of success with it?

Well I think it just comes back to success in general. Success breeds more success. So the partners who have come here feel successful, they’re willing to invest their time which is quite scarce, as small business owners, it’s hard to get away from the office. But they make the investment to come here and they feel like it’s paid off, because they’ve learned. 

Somebody was crying today. And he’s like, “I can’t believe how great this was”. And I think even just getting one small piece of information that helps make your business 2% better, makes it worthwhile. And I believe people feel like they’ve gotten that here. 

 

Erik Linask  10:26  
And you know, you said we’re going to be back here next year. Any thoughts on what we might see next year at Vectors?

 

Eric Hernaez  10:35  
Just more of the same. Probably a bigger conference. More great speakers, more of the same.

 

Erik Linask  10:43  
Excellent. Hey, Eric, thank you for taking a few minutes to talk. Congratulations on what’s been a fantastic week for SkySwitch here at Vectors.

 

Eric Hernaez  10:51  
Thank you Erik, it’s been a pleasure.

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