Gartner ICC Shake-Up
Resellers and vendors working in the unified communications and collaboration (UCC) space have been accused of confusing end users and urged to make a sea change in how they sell the technology.
Gartner research vice president Steve Blood cautions that tech firms all too often bamboozle customers with buzzwords and jargon.
"The market is confusing the audience by distorting what we are trying to achieve," he explained. "We are in a mess now and are not quite sure what UCC is."
He added that IT firms should really be looking to engage at boardroom level, and should be prepared for sales cycles of as long as six months if necessary.
"Some of the sales guys in channel partners do not have these [consultative] skills," said Blood. "They are used to selling a PBX in four or five weeks."
He added that the face-off between Microsoft and Google's respective collaboration platforms – Office 365 and Google Apps – could well shape the market's future.
Guy Beaudin, public sector business development director at Insight, claimed many end users would lean towards Office 365 as they may already use SharePoint and Exchange.
"This will be an epic battle between Microsoft and Google, as both companies see these applications as critical to retaining customers in the longer term," he added.
Integrator Damovo's portfolio manager Alex Donnelly warned that by moving into cloud-based services, Microsoft is in danger of "opening its Office customer base up to a financially competitive industry trend".
Simon Collison, HP Technology Services' UK country manager for UCC, networking and security, added: "Microsoft is often the default option being considered by large complex customers, but increasingly we are seeing them evaluating Google as well."
Peter King, office server group director at Microsoft UK, stressed that Microsoft has "deep communications heritage" in the shape of Exchange, Outlook, SharePoint and Hotmail.
"As with any leading product in the market, competition will always exist," he added. "But this is quite healthy and ensures that vendors always have customers at the forefront of their mind."