Control. We all want it, but it’s really quite elusive. Running your own communications service provider business gives you the ability to control who you work with, your customer relationships and your overall business model. This sounds great until you realize many service providers unwittingly give up the control they desire after building their services around a few poorly researched vendors. As a service provider, you hear almost every Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) platform out there claiming to provide the control you need to serve your end-users effectively. In reality, the opposite is true. We’re here to help you avoid becoming one of the many service providers who find themselves at the mercy of unreliable support and revenue limiting licensing models.
Building a highly available network
When service providers first start out, many consider a white-label platform for Unified Communications. White label providers generally advertize end-to-end solutions, by setting you up with their carriers on their network with their hardware and a rebranded user interface. Simply switching out the logo of an already existing service can sound like an easy way to start off. Well, just like many things that sound too easy, there is a huge downside to white-labeling a software platform. When you completely rely on a vendor for your communication software, you lose your ability to control the reliability of your service. As a UC provider, you know how important security, redundancy, geo-diversity, and failover planning are when creating a highly available network. When you are in control, you can strategically design your services for five 9s reliability. Do you trust your white-label provider to do the same? What happens when they decide to cut corners? Will you know before it’s too late?
Troubleshooting, Diagnostics, Implementing Solutions
When relying on a white label platform or a third-party app, you hand over your ability to control the level of support you offer to your customers. Should your customers experience issues with the services you are selling to them, they will hold you accountable for rectifying the situation. While your customers are your first priority, the same cannot be said about the companies whose software you are reselling. If you don’t have the ability to proactively diagnose and fix service impacting problems on your own, your support team will be busy fielding calls from angry customers until a third party prioritizes your problem.
Problems multiply with additional vendors
Unfortunately, the simplicity of white label providers often comes with limited feature sets. A basic out-of-the-box package does not mesh well with the ever-evolving needs of most end users. This causes many service providers to rely on a growing mix of other third-party applications. As a result, if a problem arises, valuable time is wasted troubleshooting with multiple companies.
A similar situation occurs for those following the open-source route. As we noted in our most recent blog on the problem of open source models and scalability, open source-based platform providers will only look after the telephony features they offer. Thus, if a service provider encounters a problem, they must first confirm that the issue is not with their hardware, operating system or any other one of a myriad of different components. This results in unhappy customers and potentially lost revenue opportunities.
Restrictive licensing hurts Service Provider growth
By far, the biggest wake-up call service providers unexpectedly get from many UC&C providers in the market is the realization that they are not actually in control of their own business models. Many UC&C providers charge their customers on a per-seat or per-feature basis. As a result, adding new customers is expensive. If a service provider signs a new 100-member client, they end up having to purchase licenses for 100 new seats from their provider. It doesn’t matter if only a fraction of the client’s staff will actually be using the system at any given time. This takes away control from service providers because they cannot profit and grow in the timeframe they desire. Their UC&C provider is in control of their customers’ growth trajectories by linking service providers’ seats sold to their operating costs.
By contrast, a licensing protocol that operates on a concurrent session basis gives control back to service providers. This type of model enables a service provider to purchase licenses based on what they themselves determine to be their peak load. Thus, they can sign new clients without needing to pay the UC&C provider for new seats. Say a service provider has two 100-seat customers but determines that only up to 50 individuals from each client will be using the system at any single time. Under a session-based licensing protocol, they need only purchase a license for 100 sessions, allowing a 2:1 oversubscription ratio. In reality, oversubscription ratios are 25:1, up from 16:1 in 2016. In other words, session-based licensing is the pathway to control for service providers.