What’s in a name? In the field of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C), launching an in-house brand comes with its own set of risks and rewards. While some operators prefer to resell services from well-established brands, giving corporate clients that promise of a familiar, ‘safe’ experience, others are more daring, sticking their heads above the parapet in a bid to stand apart from their rivals.
Operators contemplating the latter would do well to consider the following pros and cons of launching own-branded UC services in order to maximise the chances of success and avoid potential pitfalls.
First, the pros:
Cosying up to the customer
Some clients appreciate the personal touch; they get particularly excited by words like "tailored", and "bespoke". For them, signing up to a UC service from some big, faceless entity based on the other side of the world is not an option. They are looking for more than just a supplier, they are looking for an operator to be their partner in success. That’s where the own-branded UC service can play to an operator’s advantage: it’s another way of developing closer relationships with customers.
Proud to be different
Launching your own UC brand is a powerful way of standing apart from your rivals. It says you have the capability and expertise in-house to handle the responsibility, and it ties into an operator’s objective of becoming a trusted partner to enterprises. If you’re concerned about finding the time and resources to gain that in-house capability and expertise, you might be better off partnering with a white label UC provider, which leads to the next pro on the list.
It can be relatively straightforward
Implementing an in-house UC brand does not necessarily require an operator to develop and launch an entire UC service. Rather, operators can partner with a white-label UC service provider that has already done all the heavy lifting in terms of product development and refinement. While there is certainly more to it than devising a brand and clicking ‘OK’, it is not nearly as daunting as starting from scratch either.
You (potentially) get to keep more of your money
By going white label and adopting an in-house UC brand, operators can enjoy a greater degree of ownership over their UC service. This gives them more control, particularly when it comes to pricing. Conversely, reselling a big-name brand potentially pits you in a race to the bottom: the winner is whoever can sell ‘X-branded’ service at the lowest possible price. That’s not to say enterprises will happily pay sky-high fees for your own-branded UC service – operators still have to be competitive in that sense – but convincing potential clients that you add value, that you’re not another ‘me-too’ supplier is easier to do with an in-house UC product.
It’s brave, adventurous; you get to have lots of meetings where you pick apart the explicit and implicit messages conveyed by the most innocuous of words, colours and symbols! You get to be creative, and, if so-inclined, solicit feedback from all levels of the company – bringing you and your colleagues closer together. Then, when you’re ready, you get to launch it to the world and track the discussion of your new brand across various social media platforms. Go get ’em, tiger!
By now you might be champing at the bit to launch your in-house UC brand. Before you get carried away, after reading those inspiring pros, you might want to consider these somewhat sobering cons.
Some potential clients might automatically rule you out
It’s a fact that some companies prefer to go with established names in UC, and if you put all your eggs in the own-branded basket, then you might find your name is quickly crossed off the list by some enterprises. They may have been let down in the past by a supplier with an in-house brand and have taken a once bitten, twice shy approach to future UC procurement. If that’s the case, then trying to convince them you’re the real deal will be akin to banging your head against a brick wall.
The one throat to choke
If you resell a household name’s UC service, and something goes awry with a client, there’s always the slim possibility that it’s not entirely your fault. Even though you’ve got an angry CIO on the phone, you might get a chance during that heated exchange of ideas to deflect some of the blame elsewhere. That becomes harder when it’s your own-branded-service that is having issues. Operators keen on having an in-house UC brand might ultimately be better served by partnering with a reliable white label service, rather than venturing off entirely on their own.
Your UC service has to pass muster
It sounds obvious but it is worth noting that it is no good launching an own-brand UC product if it doesn’t offer broadly the same functionality and reliability as a well-known rival’s. All that will happen is that a customer will become frustrated and threaten to churn at the earliest opportunity. At this point, the operator will most probably lose money on that account: either the client leaves, or they decide to stay based on an incredibly generous/desperate retention offer that wipes out the operator’s margin. Once again, a partnership with a solid white label supplier might provide the most logical choice.
In summary then, adopting an in-house UC brand is not for the faint-hearted, but the potential upside of differentiating from rivals, and forging closer relationships with clients is a tantalising prospect. Partnering with an expert in the field will likely to improve your chances of success.