What does scale really mean?

Scalability is about so much more than the ability to deliver services to the largest number of customers. That’s a one-dimensional view that fails to take into account the differences that exist within the business community. What does scale really mean in the context of growing your addressable market?

On first sight, the answer is obvious. Scale means the ability to offer services to the largest number of users – 10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000, 10,000,000, and so on. But, while technically correct, such a view is only part of the answer.

That’s because simply counting users of a service conceals the fact that they have different service requirements and needs. Most hosted telephony providers offer the same service to all of their users. That is, they do not differentiate to consider how their needs vary. They simply offer the same service to as many customers as they can recruit.

Such approaches would be perfectly reasonable if all users are the same, but as providers seek to expand their market share and target new segments, this model will become a barrier to further growth. We’ve already written about segmentation. By segmenting the market, providers can create categories, based on company size, function and requirements.

If they do so, they will find that there is strong diversification between companies of different size and function. Delivering the same service to them all will become harder and harder, if not impossible. In other words, if they seek to grow beyond the current user base, they need to be able to both scale and to do so in a way that supports differentiation.

That’s a very different proposition. In this context, the definition of scalability must shift. It’s no longer simply about counting subscribers, but rather about delivery of a range of what may be subtly different service variants to the overall business community, which, in turn, is segmented into categories. Most current providers have focused solely on delivering a standard service offer. As they seek to grow, this approach will no longer be tenable.

What’s needed instead is the ability to offer differentiated services to extend the addressable market served – and to be able to reach all potential customers, not just those that adopt the cookie-cutter, basic offer. This requires scalable flexibility, rather than scalability per se.

In fact, that’s what our customers do. They use the flexibility of our platforms to tune services to the needs of different segments, while being able to grow their deployments from the same platform solution. This allows them to scale to the widest possible audience – be it millions, hundreds or tens of thousands of users, but with the different service variants they need to satisfy their users and grow their addressable markets. So, if you are thinking about bringing more to business customers, then you need to start thinking beyond numerical scale and, instead, think about scalable flexibility – talk to Gintel to find out more.

Segmentation, Service differentiation, hosted service scalability, scalable flexibility

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