The need to increase differentiation in offers to business and enterprise customers

Cloud services deliver rich functionality to business users, offering simple and cost-effective adoption plans across a huge range of applications. However, many of these services offer generic capabilities. With growing user adoption, there will be an increasing need to deliver industry-specific solutions that are customised to the needs of users in different vertical segments. The same evolution will happen with real-time UC solutions. How can operators meet this need?

There is a bewildering range of services targeted towards businesses, spread across a large number of categories, such as CRM, ERP, accounting and payroll, HR, office productivity, marketing automation, and many more. Most of these are delivered by software vendors, who provide such services from the cloud and enable access through subscription plans, tailored to different numbers of users. Many also provide packages that include a sub-set of the available features at an entry-level price, with greater richness being offered at higher price points.

A common feature is that such services are often available with single-user licenses, which means that their adoption can be eased, through trial or pilot user programmes, or by only allocating access rights to those who need them. For example, not everyone in an organisation needs to be able to use accounting or payroll software; similarly, not everyone may need access to the CRM.

It’s a successful model and one which has been enthusiastically embraced by many businesses. However, it’s also ripe for further enhancement and a new phase of evolution. Just as, for example, an accounting package must differ from country to country to cater for differences in accounting rules, tax regimes and so on, so too must services adapt to the needs of different industries. The needs of an estate agency in, say Oslo, are different from the needs of a hotel in the same city. Enterprise cloud software vendors are starting to recognise this.

Such a trend has implications for the providers of real-time communications services, such as Mobile UC. Operators and service providers that offer such services have traditionally delivered them from the cloud using different packages and subscription bundles but the service offered from any one provider to any one customer has largely been the same as that offered to all of its customers. In other words, the Mobile UC service offered by operator X to its estate agent customers will typically be the same as that offered to its customers in the hotel industry.

However, as differentiation creeps into other enterprise applications, providers of UC services must consider the needs of the different industries they serve. In fact, it’s likely that this level of differentiation represents the next opportunity for operators to add value and richness, because they can deliver a more effective service that more closely matches the needs of their existing and potential customers.

Moreover, such an approach lends itself to the more targeted marketing campaigns that operators are already seeking to deliver. If you want to sell something to estate agents, then it makes sense to understand their specific needs, as distinct from the general marketplace.

This approach has been the subject of discussion for some time, but few have taken steps to address it, thinking more in terms of horizontal segmentation (company size) rather than vertical (by industry and sector). But, as other services move towards such a differentiation approach, the inescapable conclusion must be that operators too must move in this direction.

This requires the flexibility to rapidly create and launch offers, cost-effectively. If your current UC platform is incapable of such flexibility, then it will rapidly be left behind as you fail to address the needs of different segments. Worse, you will be unable to capitalise on new demands generated from, for example, the mining or petroleum industry – leaving others to capitalise on them.

What you need is a platform that can support multiple parallel offers that use both common service capabilities as well as ones that are adapted to the needs of specific user groups, without significant incremental investment or overhead. With such a platform, you will be able to meet the needs of selected industries, chosen to match the market opportunity or customer demands that you have encountered.

One size fits all is not going to be sufficient as users continue to embrace cloud services. To stay ahead, you need a new partner that can provide the proven capabilities and tools to enable you to achieve the required differentiation in your UC portfolio, cost-effectively. Find out how by talking to Gintel!

UC, Mobile UC, Cloud UC, Unified Communications, Mobile Unified Communications, CRM, ERP

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