M&A Can Ultimately Hurt UCaaS Partners and Customers

The consolidation in the hosted PBX and Unified Communications as a Service space continues with Windstream acquiring Broadview Networks last week. Late last year, Mitel acquired Shortel, and just a few months ago, NetFortris acquired Fonality. While we all realize that M&A in the space is a good indicator of a healthy sector, this kind of activity can shrink the serviceable market for smaller providers and impact both their end-users and channel partners. End-users have fewer choices and less flexibility, while channel partners may lose opportunity as programs are consolidated and requirements raised for participation.

When I mention smaller providers, I’m not talking about companies that have a home-grown solution running on a server or two in the back room. This is more about the mid-tier providers that have a substantial regional or national footprint and solid partner programs.

Impact on the Partners

The first risk to channel partners of the acquired company is that they may simply be dropped from the program due to low sales volume. Another possibility is that partners may be put into tiers, with only the largest partners getting the most leads, opportunities, and highest margins. There may also be new competition because of geographic overlap within the merged partners.

Impact on End-Users

The biggest issue is that customer service may suffer. In the first months (or even years) post-acquisition, the customer service departments may remain separate, but eventually there is always an effort to consolidate functionality. This often results in customers getting short-changed on the level of personalized service they were used to before their hosted PBX or UC provider was acquired.

The available feature set and the pace of innovation can also be impacted when a larger company acquires a smaller UC provider. Smaller companies are often nimbler than a larger company. This means that new features can be integrated quicker and important feature requests get to the top of the priority list faster.

Finding the right balance

Whether you are looking to purchase hosted PBX or UCaaS, or starting a new business selling these services under a white label or agent program, it important to understand how and from whom the service is ultimately provided. Purchasing from or partnering with a large national provider (or someone who is large enough to be an acquisition target for large provider), you run the risk of getting a service with limited options and poor customer service. For partners, you may get a very restrictive partner program that is more focused on your upstream partner’s success than on your own. Purchasing or partnering with a provider that is too small can result in unreliable or low quality service.

Ultimately, both customer and resellers need to find the right balance between the extremes of too big and too small. Resellers need a partner that allows them to truly own their own customers and determine their own pricing while delivering outstanding service and all the tools the reseller needs to grow their own business. The end-user should look to purchase their service from a qualified reseller who can provide the local support, training, and service while the service is ultimately delivered from a partner with the resources and network to deliver a consistent and quality service.

SkySwitch Integrates 888VoIP Into Their Reseller Dashboard

Resellers can now drop-ship pre-provisioned Yealink products directly from 888VoIP for the SkySwitch Network

SkySwitch recently announced at their Vectors 2017 User Conference that SkySwitch resellers can now order and provision Yealink products directly from within the SkySwitch reseller portal. The phones are drop-shipped directly to the end-user from 888VoIP, fully configured, (including individual user credentials) for a quick-and-easy connection to the SkySwitch network.

“This partnership with 888VoIP gives our resellers a great advantage when deploying Yealink products for use as part of a SkySwitch solution,” stated Eric Hernaez, President and Founder of SkySwitch. “Resellers can now select, order, provision and ship these products from a single screen within the SkySwitch Reseller Portal.”

A short video of the selection, provisioning and shipping process is available at http://www.skyswitch.com/skyswitch-parters-888voip/.

Through the partnership, SkySwitch resellers are able to to purchase Yealink products from 888VoIP at aggressive price points. Alternatively, Resellers that have an existing relationship with 888VoIP can use the new provisioning tools with their own account. In either case, the PBX provisioning automation is provided by SkySwitch at no additional charge.

“By using the 888VoIP API to automate the fulfillment and provisioning process for their reseller channel, SkySwitch is at the forefront of service providers that are working to simplify the process of on-boarding UCaaS customers. We are extremely pleased to be working with SkySwitch as a partner.” said Dan Barry, Business Development Manager for 888VoIP.

The program has launched for Yealink products. Products from additional manufacturers will be available in the near future.

About SkySwitch
SkySwitch (http://www.skyswitch.com) 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.

About 888VoIP
888VoIP is an industry leading VoIP hardware, software, and professional services distributor. For years, VoIP resellers, integrators, and service providers have relied on 888VoIP’s knowledgeable and professional team to be their trusted advisors through 888VoIP’s Channel Advantage. Manufacturers count on 888VoIP’s experienced staff and network of certified partners to expertly handle product distribution, technical support, warranty management, and solutions integration. For more information, please visit http://www.888voip.com.

View source version on prweb.com at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/03/prweb14163743.htm

SkySwitch Makes Amazon Alexa Skill Available to White Label UCaaS Resellers

Resellers Can Now Offer Voice Enabled Dialing to End Users with the Amazon Echo

Lakeland, FL, March 16 2017:

SkySwitch, the ultimate white label UCaaS platform for resellers, now integrates with the Amazon Echo and Amazon Alexa to voice enable dialing from the SkySwitch UCaaS platform.   The integration – which is available to all SkySwitch resellers at no charge –  is the latest example of the many ways that SkySwitch allows resellers to differentiate their private-branded offerings from competing hosted PBX services.

SkySwitch UCaaS users with an Amazon Echo can now ask Alexa to initiate phone calls using voice commands.  The SkySwitch Web Centrex PBX Skill is now listed in the Amazon Alexa Skills Department, and can be found by searching for its invocation name ‘PBX’.  The skill can be enabled  and activated for free by linking it with any PBX user’s portal credentials.  

More details and short video demonstration of this Alexa skill in action can be seen at  http://www.skyswitch.com/bringing-amazon-echo-work/

The skill supports commands such as:

“Alexa ask PBX to call George”

“Alexa ask PBX to call 1000”

“Alexa ask PBX to call 17477778100”

Call recipients can be specified by first or last name if they are included in the caller’s Contact list.  Calls can be made to any extension number within the caller’s office or any telephone number. Alexa can also be used to listen to voicemails by calling the user’s mailbox.

According to Jayson Jones, VP of Business Development for SkySwitch, “Using SkySwitch and the Alexa skill is like having a personal assistant. With handsfree commands, a busy executive can simply request Alexa to dial an extension, co-worker, access a conference call or connect to any number. This makes for a powerful C Level solution and and clearly demonstrates the SkySwitch white label UCaaS value proposition.”

In the near future, SkySwitch plans to enhance the Alexa Skill with support for additional UCaaS functions, such as sending SMS messages, convening conference calls, setting call forwarding rules, and more.

About SkySwitch

SkySwitch (www.skyswitch.com) 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.

View source version on prweb.com at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/03/prweb14153648.htm

 

September WebCentrex System Upgrade

As a white label hosted PBX platform operator, the SkySwitch mission is to provide our Resellers with service that will optimize their chances for success.  Among other things, realizing this mission means that we must deliver an end-user experience that meets the demands of the market.  This is a constantly moving target in the  dynamic and constantly evolving unified communications and collaboration industry.

To address this need, we strive to upgrade our systems regularly in order to support the most up to date features available.  Accordingly, September brought another system upgrade to our user base.  Although every new version includes hundreds of improvements, here are several of the more notable enhancements.

Delayed Simultaneous Ringing (Sim Ring) – Sim Ringing is a useful call handling technique where multiple phones ring simultaneously, improving the chances of a quick pick up. The Sim Ring feature allows for a delay, in seconds, prior to adding the next set of phones to be rung. The delay can be specified separately for each phone and the number of phones and layers are virtually unlimited.
Contact Center Management –  WebContact, the Contact Center Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 12.15.47 PMfunctionality suite within WebCentrex, now offers more reporting and a new heads up statistics grid.  You may now generate reports showing metrics on Queue Statistics, Agent Performance, Agent Availability, Called Numbers and Abandoned Calls.  The metrics available include Call Volume, Calls Handled, Calls Offered, Calls Transferred, Calls Sent to Voicemail, Average Talk Time, Average Hold Time, Abandoned Calls, Average Handle Time, and Service Level.

Call Queue Enhancements – The latest release improves the ability to manage high traffic call flows. When all lines are in use for the company or group, you can place the caller in queue until the next available agent is free instead of having the caller listen to a busy signal or sending them to voice mail. While in a queue, callers can hear music on hold or custom company announcements.

New Queue Types – There are now five types of call queues: Round-robin (routes callers to the available agent that has been idle longest); Ring All (routes callers to all available agents at the same time); Linear Hunt (routes to agents in a pre-defined order, also known as skills-based routing); Linear Cascade (routes callers to groups of agents in a predefined order), and; Call Park (places the caller on hold until an agent retrieves them).

Announce to Agent – This feature assists Queue Agents in preparing for and effectively handling calls by providing the Queue Agents an additional level knowledge about the call, prior to actually answering the call. It allows the system to play a message prior to the Queue dispatching the call to the Agent, and the Agent accepting a call.

Music on Hold Management – Music on hold (MOH)for call queues, that is music or messages that are played while a caller is in a queue waiting for their call to be dispatched), can now be managed directly from the call queue configuration page, by way of a pop up box.

In fact, one of the most compelling aspects of the SkySwitch business model is that, as a white label Reseller of our services, you get access to the latest and greatest features with each new upgrade of our system.  That means your platform is continuously improving, and you don’t have to do a thing.

Page 2 of 212