Is Partner becoming an overused term for suppliers?

I was musing language (as I often do) again today and thinking about the initial engagement in any situation, but probably I was thinking mostly about the very first engagement in a sales situation. This could be a conversation, either by phone or face to face, or more often these days, an email or other form of non-real time communication. Whatever the channel, I was considering the impact of language and in particular the meaning that the recipient makes of the words and structure of those critical first few phrases. I am a firm believer that the conversation needs to be about “the client” and not about me and more importantly what the purpose of the contact is! This thought process led me to consider the positioning of the potential relationship and the consideration from the recipient’s perspective as to whether this was at all important at this early stage, or actually at all.

Inevitably when language becomes mainstream, or commonplace, it loses some of its caché and “advantage” (if it ever had any), and can become almost counter-productive as we see it as “hackneyed” or over-used, and this could be the case if positioning yourself as a partner – rather than just another supplier.

I like to seek out relationships whereby my value can be of real benefit to a client and that is all about “valuing the difference”. In this case the difference is the particular skills and knowledge I have acquired over many years in the telecoms and Unified Communications space, and that which can be of use to the client. I might frame this as me being a “partner” rather than a supplier, i.e. my value is not about a race to provide the lowest cost items, but about taking the stress out of understanding the options and possibilities as well as the unique aims and business values the client holds dear. Marrying these pieces together and considering the real business value of the solutions available merits additional value, which is often unappreciated. My view – for what it’s worth is that if you are investing in a technology that is dynamically changing and evolving, and competitive with multiple strong vendors in the race, then looking way beyond the investment is critical and a trusted advisor relationship is definitely desirable – But what do I know

Reduce your email traffic? Yes please.

It’s all got a bit out of hand now hasn’t it? Email started off so well too. Immediate communications from your desktop rather than the lengthy process of “word-processing” a document, printing it, fetching it, walking to the fax machine….. You remember that – right? Then the traffic began to build, and build, and build. Where do all off the emails come from. Conversation being held via email, copying “all” followed swiftly by a “copy all” WILL YOU STOP COPYING EVERYONE ON YOUR RESPONSES.
So is it any wonder that the introduction of a tool that’s”fit for purpose” is gaining high rates of adoption. Microsoft lync’s instant messaging does exactly what it says on the tin, removing the need for protracted email conversations AND because presence status shows availability and out of office message before contact is attempted, unnecessary traffic is avoided. In addition to which this capability can, through federation, function beyond corporate boundaries with clients, suppliers and partners within your chosen ecosystem.
The user experience is best in class, and you don’t even have to be at your desk to access it. Lync sets you free to work from wherever you can access a data connection….. Which also reduces your call charges.

Why wouldn’t you want to consider lync?

You simply wouldn’t bet against this would you?


Love it, or hate it, change is a regular and unavoidable occurrence in our lives and it seems that the pace of innovation and change is gathering pace. Never more so is this true than in the technology space and in particular that of communications and IT.

There is never a day passing without news of a new innovation that will sooner or later impact our lives, hopefully to show an improvement. Often it takes us a while to see these changes and certainly to get on board with the details of what the change is and its specific impact on our lives- working or personal. Within the IT and voice space especially the demarcation lines are getting ever more blurred between our business and personal lives and we see much talk about the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) which is frequently tweeted about on twitter with the #BYOD hashtag, as well as the increasing trend towards home working. This is something that is becoming the norm rather than the exception and the freedom to choose where you work, or equally as important for nomadic workers like me, be able to work anywhere, is underpinned by some of the smart technologies emerging from the Microsoft stable.

Microsoft has for some time been on the fringe of “total” communications technology (TCT), delivering Internet Messaging (IM) and presence capabilities. This evolutionary journey began several years ago initially in LCS, then OCS, and now in Lync. What we have seen as a precursor to this TCT is Microsoft integrating their solutions into some voice vendor’s technologies with varying degrees of success – after all, when two large corporations come together, with the best will in the world, there is always a wrestling of “we do it like this so can you change that”. Notwithstanding that there have been some successful partnerships, but that has all changed forever, as Microsoft has declared their hand as a complete voice, and video enabled UC solution.

What for me makes this such a compelling offering is the usability and simplicity. Generally speaking when a “worker” enters the office (home or traditional workplace), the first place to go is OUTLOOK. Here, we can access all of our emails, appointments and contacts….. Contacts, with whom we wish to communicate. The simplicity of seeing the status of my (federated) contacts before I consider how to communicate is already a big bonus helping me decide the best mode to begin. Once I have decided, a simple click of my mouse initiates the call from whichever device I wish – so if this is my laptop, I could very well have chosen just a headset – This in itself brings huge benefits – NO IP PHONE = LOWER POWER CONSUMPTION – this is a good thing – right? NO PHONE ON MY DESKTOP = More space available – this too is a good thing – Yes? So we can reduce our carbon footprint, real estate costs and all from an integrated UC application – MS Lync, which means we no longer need a PBX – wow! Why would you not want to consider this?

UC – A technology, or something else?

 UC – or  should I cut out the TLA (three letter acronym – or in this case two letter) and give it it’s full title – Unified Communications, is one of those “titles” that has many different meanings and thus causes as much confusion as it does buzz.

For many in my industry, UC is absolutely a technology, and some are keen to talk the hind legs off a donkey about the technical details of what “it”can deliver, but rarely get to the real “pay back” part of the conversation.

So what have I got to say for myself – well I believe that there is significantly more to the UC conversation than just technology. I am firmly in the space that technology is rarely the only element of a successful solution, as we need to factor in the people engagement piece – whether that be employees, partners, or the paymasters themselves Customers.

UC is about bringing together various disparate channels of communications and devices into a device agnostic, location independent offering. That is to say that my ability to communicate is supported wherever I am and whatever device I happen to be using. Microsoft Lync is such a platform that enables a fairly intuitive interface for engaging with your colleagues, suppliers and customers using whatever is the most appropriate mode – Instant Messaging; Email; Telephone Call; Video Call and allows for Collaboration, through desktop sharing and discussion. All of the options are embedded in the applications that most business people are using in their daily work. Open Outlook, and you immediately have access to presence (availability and status of people in your work circles) especially if you “federate” (your presence) beyond just your internal contacts.

AND beyond the technology is the people element. Any organisation looking to embark upon a UC “journey” (that is how it should be viewed IMHO) should ensure that the company culture and people “fit” are scrutinised very carefully. The transition from existing pbx to lync voice, needs carefully planning and skilfully migrating, so that it appears seamlessly executed. This can only be achieved with a sound understanding of the process and the technologies. It is also key to be clear about your objectives and how the people in this journey are included and embraced. Just changing the tech alone will surely yield some improvements, but for the real payoff you need buy in and engagement. (If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got).

Finally consider this – today you are probably arriving at your office (home office, work office, coffee shop) and after turning on your laptop, opening Outlook. Good news – all of your communications are embedded here, and with the simple addition of a headset or similar, you have your communications hub ready to go – IM, telephony, video etc. So simple and ubiquitous, and think about the considerable savings of no longer needing your office wired pbx….worth serious consideration don’t you think?