This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

Focuses on SMBs and channel partners selling to that market

The UCaaS market has been red hot over the past few years, and it’s likely to stay that way into the foreseeable future as companies ditch their on-premises systems for a much easier to deploy cloud option. What’s been an interesting trend in UCaaS is that most of the incumbent vendors that got their start selling to SMBs are now targeting mid- to large-size enterprises for future growth.

Intermedia, known as a provider of cloud business applications, last week tossed its hat into the UCaaS ring when it announced its Intermedia Unite solution that combines screen sharing and video from the acquisition of AnyMeeting with its own cloud-based voice, file sharing, and secure backup capabilities. Despite going after small businesses, Unite has all enterprise-grade call features including call park, transfer, voicemail with transcription, hunt groups with rich reporting, and others. It also includes a feature, called “flip,” that allows workers to transfer calls between mobile and office phones, and vice versa.

Intermedia kept the AnyMeeting brand for its HD video, screen sharing, and chat capabilities, where each user can have his or her own personal URL to invite others to meetings. There’s also a PC and MAC desktop application so users can “click to call” on their screen to initiate a call on the desk phone and launch an AnyMeeting session. Unite also includes a free iOS or Android mobile app that comprises a full-featured softphone, visual voicemail, voicemail transcription, business and personal contacts, call history, and other features.

Security-focused companies will appreciate SecuriSync, which is a secure file sync and share service with collaborative online co-editing capability. It also has automatic, real-time backups for desktops and mobile devices. This is a significantly better way of storing and sharing files compared to the many consumer-grade cloud services that offer no data protection.

Intermedia Unite comes with an intuitive administrative pane of glass called HostPilot where users can be created, deleted, or changed. HostPilot is also where call reports are run, hardware and services can be order, and system settings changed.

Intermedia will go to market by focusing on the massive number of regional MSPs and VARs that currently don’t have UCaaS as part of their portfolio. UCaaS presents new services opportunities for many channel partners, particularly in the area of pre-deployment where networks need to be tested and made ready for real-time IP traffic. Intermedia has a product called VoIP Scout that enables UCaaS channel partners to conduct comprehensive tests of their customer’s data network to find and mitigate potential issues with bandwidth, latency, jitter, or other issues that could affect voice quality. This ensures there are no post-deployment surprises that could cause the customer to think twice about using Unite. VoIP Scout can also be used on a periodic basis, enabling partners to regularly assess networks and be proactive about network changes or upgrades. Intermedia provides VoIP Scout to its partners free of charge.

A little over 80% of Intermedia’s revenue flows through its channel partners, so it’s fair to say the company fully understands the value of partner success. Its channel partners have the option of selling the service as Intermedia branded or as a white-labeled solution. Intermedia prides itself on being extremely partner friendly and provides support at every phase of the customer lifecycle including solution education, lead generation, sales support, onboarding, migration, account administration, and technical support.

As part of the Unite launch, Intermedia introduced the following partner tools designed to shorten sales cycles:

  • Partner quote system: From here VARs or MSPs can choose services, quantities, and prices, and then add their own service and/or fees and generate a single quote
  • Self-service ordering: Customers can provision new accounts, or order additional services, directly from the portal
  • Web portal: This can be used to make real-time system or endpoint changes. Managed service providers will find this particularly useful for remote administration

These new tools should make partners’ lives easier, as products can be quoted, ordered, and changed easily, resulting in fewer support calls and administrative hours spent in the office.

Intermedia will stay laser focused on SMBs and the channel that sells to that market. Unite was designed with that market in mind, and it’s easy to quote, sell, deploy, and use. The company seems quite content to let the other vendors go chase up market business while it goes after the massive number of small businesses that need communication services.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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