4 Tips to Help SMBs Improve Performance and Real-Time Communications

One idea: Offer a managed service to keep clients’ SD-WAN running smoothly.

September 24, 2019

4 Min Read
IVR problems


John Macario

By John Macario, Senior Vice President of Global Channel Marketing, Ribbon Communications

Channel-Partners-Insights-logo-300x109.pngMany small and medium-sized businesses use multiple cloud applications with a single broadband connection. Even if that connection is the highest quality with the fastest upload and download speeds, performance can be compromised when traffic to and from the cloud isn’t prioritized.

Any application that has real-time traffic, voice or video conferencing, for example, must be prioritized, optimized and secured to achieve the best possible performance. However, individual businesses may need other cloud applications prioritized, such as point of sale data or ERP connections.

While software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is an excellent technology for cloud-dependent businesses, traditional SD-WAN can be expensive for SMBs and often requires a second broadband connection for optimal results. SD-WAN also requires some degree of technical expertise that many SMBs lack.

Here are four tips for channel partners who want to help their SMB customers improve the quality of their real-time communications and the performance of their mission-critical cloud applications.

1. Start by understanding the customer’s challenges.What problems are they experiencing? Which cloud applications are slow? Is audio quality poor or are calls dropping on their cloud phone service? Are they unable to participate in a video conference without having to also dial into the call using their mobile device? Are hosted applications like salesforce.com slowing productivity down because of latency? Are there issues at certain times of day, when offices are full and video conference calls are happening with multiple parties? Are remote workers having trouble staying connected?By starting with an audit, you are armed with information you can use to help create options and bring back the best solutions tailored to that SMB.

2. With the results of your analysis, have an open conversation about the budget and the IT resources required to manage a new solution.Even with tight budgets, the right value proposition will help the SMB understand the need for investment. If their existing problems are hurting productivity or causing issues in servicing customers, they will listen. Help them understand that the right solution can go beyond solving immediate issues.Many SMBs are aware of the need for business continuity, but most don’t know how to implement a plan. A well-crafted SD-WAN implementation can provide a solution. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) security, while not a concern for most SMBs, should be. In a recent survey of 1,250 companies in the United States and Canada, 49% of the respondents said their company had already experienced a business-impacting SIP security breach. Again, the right SD-WAN solution can increase the security of cloud applications along with their performance.

3. With information, insights and a clear understanding of the goals and budget available, present a more detailed plan, including the process for implementing SD-WAN. If only one broadband connection is available, for example, you can present a solution that optimizes that with software that can shape traffic, optimize applications and provide information and management tools that allow for continually improving performance…

…and results. Alternatively, you can offer a backup connection over a 4G/5G connection and have the SD-WAN solution manage traffic across two networks.

4. Finally, for SMBs without IT expertise, offer a managed service to monitor the SD-WAN solution and keep it running smoothly.Work with the customer to remove the stress of adding a new technology to their arsenal. The same study found that most SMBs do not adopt technology gracefully. In fact, more than 65% of the smallest SMBs said their companies were slow to adopt new technology, preferring to invest only when there was a ‘clear business need.’Communicate your plan clearly to minimize disruption to their business. That includes set up, testing, migration, production cutover, user training and more. Meet every deadline and address any challenges when they come up quickly and precisely. Remember, above all, at an SMB you will be dealing with businesspeople with little understanding of technology. Avoid using jargon, particularly when an unexpected problem comes up.

In summary, SMBs are much different than large enterprises and it takes a special understanding of their needs along with a willingness to truly understand their business today and their ambitions for the future. When you sell the right solution that can scale and help your customers grow, you become part of their equation for success. Your willingness to work hard, find and implement the best technologies to meet their needs and deliver solid results will result in long-term relationships that can benefit you as your customers’ businesses grow.

John Macario is senior vice president of global channel marketing at Ribbon Communications. A seasoned technology executive with broad experience in marketing, business development, product management and operations, he is a recognized leader in the IP communications and cloud services space. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @ribboncomm or @JohnMacarioRbbn on Twitter.

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