Written by Elisabeth Vanderveldt, SBSC PAL for Eastern Canada

Here we go again with grim news from Nortel, once the Canadian darling of the telecom industry, suffering an immense 3rd quarter loss and, as of this writing, down 28%. Now when it seemed they might even be a formidable partner or competitor in the Unified Communications (UC) and VoIP market, one has to wonder what will be next for a firm that has produced some of the best telecom equipment globally.

Why should this be of interest to small business ? Well it proves a few things. One, we’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to the industry heavyweights suffering further downturns. Two, as SMB’s ourselves we can look to take advantage of this opportunity to push UC solutions without having larger firms run us over.

As the industry behemoths falter around us, perhaps this is an opportunity to do one of two things (or both):

  1. Look for opportunities to partner with them. E.g. the big telcos are trying to get partner programs going with select partners. Obviously they need to take some lessons from the leader in partnering, Microsoft, as it’s they don’t completely understand the investment that needs to take place.
  2. Start developing more of your practice around the solutions that will best serve SMBs, and the processes they need to modify to reduce costs and increase revenues.Allison L. Watson

To prove my point, I just received an article of an interview with Allison Watson, Corporate Vice President of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft (with excerpts chosen below). She points the way for VAR’s and what SBSC’s need to know about SMB’s to better hone in on the solutions they need to sell.

There's plenty of opportunities for VARs to grow, as long as they stay focused on projects that improve energy efficiency, boost productivity, and drive down costs.

How is the current economic situation influencing your conversations with partners?

There are three main things that SMBs are doing right now to reduce costs: reducing travel, becoming more energy efficient, and driving cost out of IT spending and toward more revenue producing areas.

Note the “driving cost out of IT spending”, but also recognize the need to “reduce travel”. Now the trade off here would appear to be increased long distance and teleconferencing costs (maybe a T1 line?). But that doesn’t have to be the case, and here is where solutions like Microsoft Round Table and Microsoft Response Point can put you right back in the ball game.

There are also other things that we’ve mentioned in previous posts, like performing a SAM/HAM to see what equipment and software that a client is using may actually be reducing staff productivity and using more energy than required.

Suffice to say that there really are opportunities to not only sustain your business, but to add to it with new sources of revenue. The rest, as they say, is up to you!

Elisabeth Vanderveldt

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