channel v i s ionmag . com Volume 21 Issue 1 JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022 The Voice of the Channel i l Wrangling in WAN Costs MONETIZING Wi-Fi Edge-Ready Infrastructure The SaaS Sales Journey Going Passwordless Sponsored by

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JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022 EMERGENT 8 Data’s Developers The rise of a new analytics hero in 2022 By David Wang MOBILE & WIRELESS 10 Vo5G and the Next Stage of Voice Technology By Paroma Bhattacharya 14 Monetizing Wi-Fi By Bruce Christian AT YOUR SERVICE: XaaS 18 Fours Ways to Prep Your UCaaS Business for M&A By Brent Maropis 20 The SaaS Sales Journey How SMBs are buying and benefitting from cloud business apps By Martin Vilaboy CYBER PATROL 26 Forget Passwords A guide to taking SMBs passwordless By Brady Hicks CHANNEL MANAGEMENT 32 Peer to Peer Discussing the value of MSP peer networking 34 Telesystem Continues to Explore New Ways to Redefine the Customer Experience By Brady Hicks CORE COMMUNICATIONS 36 Wrangling WAN Costs After two years of keeping up, WAN managers take audit By Martin Vilaboy 42 Edge-Ready Infrastructure Leveraging integrated data center solutions to capitalize on opportunities on the edge By Song Lu 44 Astound Broadband: A New Name for Familiar Services By Brady Hicks 46 Onward and Upward with VTech Snom’s Rebate Program 48 Under Sinch Ownership, Inteliquent Marries Voice and Messaging Like Never Before By Brady Hicks BUYERS SIDE 50 Channel Health Check IT spending, optimism on the rise in partners for 2022 By Bruce Christian INTERNATIONAL AGENTS 54 A Pan-Channel View Global providers discuss year three of the pandemic and its effect on the international channel By Bruce Christian 6 Editor’s Letter 58 Ad index CONTENTS Volume 21 – Issue 1 4 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

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Despite the rising pressures of inflation, the challenges of strained supply chains and the ongoing uncertainties of COVID, willingness to invest in businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit appear to be quite healthy. In 2021, global venture funding reached a record $621 billion, more than double the amounts of each of the last three years, according to Anand Sanwal, CEO and founder of CB Insights. U.S. venture funding also doubled to hit a record $311 billion in 2021, half the global total, with a record high for yearly deals at more than 12,200, reported CB Insights. “Early-stage deals were a key driver, accounting for 55 percent of total deals and signaling an even more robust U.S. venture market in 2022,” said a CB Insights report. The bears in the room quickly make comparisons to the dot-com bust of ‘99-’00. Sanwal is certainly not one of them. “It’s a facile argument they’ve been making for eight to 10 years,” he recently posted. Sanwal points to an expanding global map as one reason for optimism. Most venture funding deals still take place in Asia and the U.S. “But technology-driven innovation is coming from everywhere — Latin America, Africa, SE Asia, Europe, India, China, etc.” Activity also has been healthy across most, if not all, industries, he continued. “No industry is immune from digitization. From financial services to healthcare to industrials to retail, there are new technologies and new business models enhancing or upending these industries,” Sanwal argued. “Yes, there is certainly some exuberance and funding could pull back a bit, but the reality is that venture and private markets are big, growing fast, and here to stay,” said Sanwal. No doubt investors smell the money to be made. CB Insights global unicorn count hit 959 in 2021, up 69 percent from 2020, with a “staggering” 517 new companies hitting the “tres comas” valuation mark in 2021. All the while, Americans seem to be more enthusiastic than ever about starting up their own businesses. A recent survey of more than 1,200 adults by, an independent review site for small business products and services, found that 43 percent of respondents plan to start a business in 2022. Fifty-five percent of aspiring new business owners said they will leave their current jobs within the next 12 months. Findings indicate that retail, business and finance, and computer and IT are the most popular industries for aspiring new business owners. Some of that, no doubt, could be “side hustle” fever driven by the flexibility of remote working, and most of those “new businesses” will never be large enough to require substantial investments in communications technology. But considering the rather tough conditions businesses are facing right now and have endured during the past two years, any indication of a willingness to invest, grow and launch is welcomed news to providers of business services. Showing the Money LETTER Martin Vilaboy Editor-in-Chief Bruce Christian Senior Editor Brady Hicks Contributing Editor Percy Zamora Art Director Rob Schubel Digital Manager Jen Vilaboy Ad Production Director Berge Kaprelian Group Publisher (480) 503-0770 Anthony Graffeo Publisher (203) 304-8547 Nazal Parvin Associate Publisher (415) 516-7053 Beka Business Media Berge Kaprelian President and CEO Corporate Headquarters 10115 E Bell Road, Suite 107 - #517 Scottsdale, Arizona 85260 Voice: 480.503.0770 Email: © 2022 Beka Business Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in any form or medium without express written permission of Beka Business Media is prohibited. ChannelVision and the ChannelVision logo are trademarks of Beka Business Media 6 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

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By David Wang Data’s Developers The rise of a new analytics hero in 2022 Every year industry pundits predict data and analytics becoming more valuable. This doesn’t exactly take a crystal ball to predict. But there’s something more interesting happening that’s going to change everything in the analytics world: the rise of a new hero, the software developer. If the past is any indication of the future, then what we are seeing is a major transformation unfolding across every industry – a changing of the guard, so to speak, of the ones who are creating value from data. Today, the industry equates analytics with data warehousing and business intelligence. It’s a traditional approach for BI experts to query historical data “once in a while” for the executive dashboards and reports that have been around for decades. But for bleeding-edge companies including Netflix, Target and Salesforce, the use of analytics is more progressive, more impactful and in real-time. Companies such as these see the true game-changer of data being in the hands of their software developers. Their developers are building modern analytics applications and doing it with Apache Druid to deliver interactive data experiences for investigative, operational and customerfacing insights. But what’s causing the emergence of these apps, and what does it mean for developers? Let’s break down the top five reasons. Number one, the need for interactive analytics at scale is taking off. Increasingly, analytics are needed to understand a situation or investigate a problem. This requires the freedom to slice and dice and interact with data live with sub-second query response at any scale. It’s a dynamic user experience that can be best created via a developer-built application. No one wants to sit around waiting for a query to process. And while many databases will claim the checkbox for interactivity and speed, they’ll come with lots of scale constraints. They’ll rely on tricks such as roll ups, aggregations or recent data to make queries appear faster, but that restricts the insights one can get. So, the operative word here is “scale.” Number two, high concurrency is becoming a must-have for every use case. The days of relying on a few BI analysts to write SQL queries are in the rear-view mirror. Data-driven companies want to provide everyone free access to explore. And multi-tenancy takes user count even further. But concurrency doesn’t come from the numbers of users. Developers are being asked to build analytics apps with dozens of visualizations, with each firing off several concurrent SQL queries. I’ll admit it’ll be hard to find a modern database today that doesn’t claim EMERGENT 8 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

high concurrency. You obviously wouldn’t want to force fit Postgres (or even Elastic) in uncomfortable positions. But what about scale-out cloud data warehouses? Doesn’t elasticity = scale = high concurrency? Of course, but elasticity without insane compute efficiency is going to be an expensive app. Next comes the desire to unlock the value of streaming data with analytics. Businesses are adopting event-streaming platforms like Apache Kafka. Our friends at Confluent, the creators of Kafka, have built a data mesh that puts data in motion. With data swirling around constantly, what better use of it than to analyze it for continuous, real-time insights? Companies such as Netflix are doing this and their developers are creating a huge competitive advantage by bringing together Apache Kafka and Druid to build an analytics app that enables a high-quality, always-on, user experience. With an eye on real-time analytics, several things must be taken into account. Is analyzing streams enough or does the use case need to compare streams against historical data? For intercontinental exchange, it’s the full spectrum from present to past that gives them the right security visibility. Does ingestion scalability matter? Do you need to process millions of events per second? What about latency or data quality? Number four, more companies want to give their customers analytics. Analytics of the past were about making better decisions for the business. While still relevant and an opportunity to create more value, we are seeing companies build analytics apps to deliver insights to their customers. Companies including Twitter, Cisco ThousandEyes and Citrix are doing this and driving material revenue from it. They’re giving their customers visibility and insights, and that in turn creates big business for them. But it can be a pretty hairy outcome to use any database to build a customer-facing analytics app. There’s way more on the line than internal use cases when you think about SLAs and the customer experience. It’s in these apps where microseconds of latency make a difference. Downtime is costly, and concurrency and money go through the roof. And last but not least, the digitization of everything is built with analytics. At this point in tech, I think we all see that every company is becoming a software company. But with everyone having easy access to the cloud, simply building cloud software and services isn’t enough to sustain an advantage. That’s why companies such as Salesforce and Airbnb build analytics apps to optimize how they build their products. Developers at the best software companies are building analytics apps to help them create the best product experiences. Whether it’s nextgen observability, user behavior insights, live A/B testing or even recommendation engines, an analytics app is at work. There you have it, our prediction for this year. We see the world of analytics expanding rapidly to modern analytics apps with developers becoming the new analytics heroes in organizations. o David Wang is vice president, product marketing for 9 JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022 | CHANNELV ISION Connect with Blackfoot Carrier Services! Click to schedule a meeting today! ILLINOIS WYOMING NEBRASKA ARIZONA CALIFORNIA TEXAS FLORIDA GEORGIA NEW YORK VIRGINIA OREGON IDAHO MONTANA WASHINGTON NORTH DAKOTA SOUTH DAKOTA UTAH COLORADO KANSAS MINNESOTA IOWA Todd Twete Director, Sales and Marketing

Vo5G AND THE NEXT STAGE OF VOICE TECHNOLOGY By Paroma Bhattacharya The HARPY Speech Recognition System, developed by the U.S. Department of Defense and Carnegie Mellon University in the mid-1970s, was the first speech recognition proof of concept capable of processing and interpreting 1,000 words. After decades of behindthe-scenes voice technology improvement, the greatest names in tech brought voice recognition mainstream and deployed the new wave of natural language recognition capabilities in smartphones about 40 years later. Siri, Alexa, Bixby, DuerOS and Google Assistant are all popular now. In total, 128 million people in the United States used mobile voice assistants in 2020. The technology that was once the subject of the HARPY experiment is now commonplace. Beyond smartphones and earphones, voice integration has become the norm. It was startling and lovely at first to ask your phone to give you the weather; however, being unable to talk to your car or TV the way you can to a phone soon became a hassle. Consumers now anticipate speech in refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, smartwatches, air conditioners and a variety of other devices. Voice control will become the primary form of contact between consumers and their devices as this technology spreads and develops, which means that consumer electronics manufacturers must consider voice control as a basic feature of pretty much any “smart product.” The benefits that smartphones have brought to our lives will continue to generate broad expansion expectations from all of us, but we must address the user interface diversity. With 5G voice in place, service providers should start thinking about how to bring their voice service into the future. 5G voice will provide additional options for service providers to enhance their voice services. People will become more accustomed to utilizing their voice in a variety of situations (whether that is communicating with humans or machines). MOBILE & WIRELESS 10 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

What Is 5GVoice andWhy Does It Matter? The IP multimedia system (IMS)- based phone calling service voice over 5G (Vo5G) or voice over new radio (VoNR) uses the 5G network as its source of internet protocol voice processing. The 5G radio access technology, which is an upgraded and updated version of the 4G radio access technology, is used for new radio network communication. There will be two types of voice services available via 5G mobile networks: • Carrier-grade voice service, which is not part of the public internet voice over new radio (VoNR) or Vo5G networks and has tight quality of service support. • OTT voice services will continue to exist in 5G networks and will be delivered via mobile internet access based on the best-effort principle and network neutrality (e.g., Viber, WhatsApp, Skype and others). Is 5GVoice Important? The demand for faster data speeds and innovative services is driving the development of 5G. However, the voice is significant for these reasons: 1. Smartphones with 5G data rates. 2. New 5G-specific use cases are supported. 3. The phase-out of the legacy system. What Happens to VoNR in the End? The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has stated 5G will utilize the 4G voice/video communication architecture while also providing IMS-based voice/video communication services. It’s worth noting that VoLTE and VoNR are two different access modalities for the IMS voice/video communication services. 5G Voice will make use of the existing network infrastructure IMS, which is being used to deliver voice over LTE services on LTE handsets today. As a result, for a 5G smartphone to make voice calls, the service provider must have enabled voice over LTE. Furthermore, it will take some time for 5G to be implemented fully across the entire network. In the interim, current 4G networks must be interworked with. From the perspective of the end user, the phone service is the same whether the connection is 4G or 5G. Even when switching from 4G to 5G, end consumers want smooth service continuity. Aside from making high-quality phone calls on 5G smartphones, what else would 5G Voice enable? In order for all of the other new and cooler 5G features to be made available, voice must work. 5G pioneers are researching and developing a variety of ideas and specific implementations for how 5G might provide a more beneficial user experience to consumers and business users — as well as industries and other use cases. According to Reports and Data, the voice over 5G (Vo5G) market will register significant growth over the coming years as voice communication demand increases. The consumer perspective Consumers can purchase a 5G smartphone with ultra-fast 5G speeds and low latency. They’ll be able to make high-quality, dependable phone calls, as they do on 4G and 2G/3G networks now. A new voice codec is something new (tech name EVS, evolved voice service, 3GPP standardized). This technology is being used in voice over LTE networks. It will, nevertheless, be the default voice codec in 5G. This means any user who purchases a 5G smartphone will have it pre-installed. It will offer a better voice quality experience than high-definition voice does now. Today, some service providers use the GSMA trademark “HD voice Plus” to sell this in LTE networks. Another unique feature of this voice codec is that it improves the quality of music shared over a voice call when compared to HD voice. o Paroma Bhattacharya is a content writer who has written pieces in health care, technology banking and a range of other industry verticals. Her articles focus on balancing relevant data and in providing objective facts to help people make important business decisions. MOBILE & WIRELESS Source: Retail Systems Research In general, how much of a priority is 5G planning and adoption for the following stakeholders at your company? Source: Verizon, Morning Consult; 2021 A top priority An important, but lower priority Not too important a priority Not a priority Don’t know / No opinion 54% 39% 34% 12% 10% 5% 38% 33% 13% 11% 5% 35% 38% 12% 10% 5% 32% 38% 14% 11% 5% 24% 9% 9% 4% 43% 41% 40% 38% 33% 33% 31% 31% 27% 27% 3% 57% 56% 50% 45% IT/IS leaders Top executive leaders (e.g., CEO, President) Engineering/Product Development/ R&D leaders Strategy/Operations leaders Sales/Marketing/Business Development leaders Challenges of deploying a passwordless authentication model Source: LastPass, LogMeIn Global Survey Fi ancial invest ent Regulations around the storage of the data Time Resi tance to change from employees Lack of skills and knowledge Resistance change from IT department Passwords will never truly be eliminated Sense of being afraid to change what we already know Complicated to implement Concerns that it is less secure No challenges Most U.S. IT Pros Feel Optimistic About Role Demand for skills leading to career options Importance of tech to business objectives Reliance on technology following pandemic 12 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

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MONETIZING WI-FI By Bruce Christian CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022 What if a channel partner could provide to a retailer a solution that would allow the store owner an opportunity to create and send different individual messages targeted to each customer in the store? From a marketing perspective, it sounds like the ultimate advantage, and this capability is available now by using data gathered through the store’s Wi-Fi and then using the data to sell products. It’s called monetizing your Wi-Fi. “This is really changing the game,” said Shawn Nace, sales engineer for Telesystem. “You’re changing the conversation from having that Wi-Fi being a CAPEX and OPEX for a business to something that is going to provide real insight and breakthrough revenue streams for the business.” Providing customers with such a solution would mark a transition in the traditional partner play, however. “The audience for this is a little different,” Nace explained. “It is not for the chief technology officer. For this solution, partners are going to be engaging the chief marketing officer or social media manager, so it’s a little bit of a game changer in that respect.” Almost every place of business nowadays has Wi-Fi, whether it’s a restaurant, a retailer, a large entertainment venue such as a baseball stadium or a basketball arena, said Nace. “And they all have Wi-Fi not only for their employees but for their customers.” In turn, Wi-Fi has become a large expense for businesses, but they need it to ensure their employees and customers can operate hand-held devices, laptops and even point-of-sale devices. “Customers need the Wi-Fi so they can browse the internet, use social media and other things, perhaps take phone calls while they are in your MOBILE & WIRELESS Shawn Nace, Telesystem sales engineer 14

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CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022 place of business,” Nace said, and then presented the twist. “But what if you can use that same infrastructure you have in place to create new revenue streams; to engage your customers more effectively; to learn more about your customers? “Large businesses across the globe are doing this, and for our partners out there, you guys should really be aware of what you can do with this solution,” he continued. Wi-Fi can be used to access valuable data and analytics that can help build detailed visitor profiles, which allows the company’s marketers to better understand, for example, how visitors are moving around a space. Typical customers that could benefit from this kind of information are the same types of businesses channel partners already serve, such as retail, health care, municipal governments, office spaces, hospitality, restaurants and large public venues and malls. License toWi-Fi Nace said the solution Telesystem offers is a SaaS-based solution that lives on top of the Wi-Fi infrastructure – above the wireless access point. The solution has three licensing options: • Enterprise License – The solution that provides the analytics to elicit feedback from customers and gather intelligence about those consumers to allow more effective target marketing. • Wayfinding License – A niche solution that helps with pinpoint accuracy within a foot or two, making it a great navigation or geolocation tool. • Presence & Location License – A solution that provides information based on location. “Since it is a software as a service, it is licensed like everything else that we are selling technology-wise,” Nace said. The solution is licensed per access point per month and is very similar to how Telesytem licenses its UCaaS services or SIP trunks per user per month, “and there is a monthly reoccurring revenue that our partners are going to be paid a residual on,” said Nace. “So, the cost might be $50 to $60 per access point, and when Telesystem provides the access point, we’re about $25 per month if you want to layer that on top of an existing infrastructure.” He added, “We’re also going to be able to connect that solution with your existing CRM. Part of the goal of this solution is that engagement analytics are able to glean details, glean information about your visitors.” The information that can be gathered could include how often a customer is coming into a location, the time of day a customer visits a business, visitor demographics, what a customer might “like” or dislike, and their social media history. “Why is this information important?” Nace asked. “It allows the marketing officer to tailor the messages to the demographic, the age range, or even to change the marketing to attract other people who don’t fit the demographics that are being measured.” He continued, “So, I want to gather all that information and connect it to my existing CRM whether that’s Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics or whatever. I can also engage customers when they come to my venue by way of texting.” For example, the store manager or company marketing person may recognize a repeat customer and send a personalize text that welcomes her by name and thanks her for her patronage. “It’s all about engaging and learning about the customers more effectively and then targeting them with very pinpoint marketing as opposed to broad strokes,” Nace said. “It’s taking the guess work out of the marketing.” The Enterprise license allows for sending questions or quizzes to the customer, which allows for immediate feedback. For example, a fitness center might recognize one of its members enrolled into a cardio class. When the class is complete, the center might send out questions regarding how the attendee enjoyed the class or provide further information on the instructor and future classes. With the Presence & Location License, a person shopping in the men’s department of a large store or mall could be targeted by the store’s social media manager with individual information or even a coupon for a value-add or accessory to a recent purchase. Telesystem also can help create splash pages to customize messages and to target certain demographics. Nace said companies with several venues can use a single pane of glass to manage the entire experience and monitor all the venues at once. If it all sounds like an intrusion to privacy, Nace explained that when customers sign onto the building’s or retailer’s Wi-Fi, they are asked to agree to the “terms & conditions,” which explains that their information is being gathered to provide a better experience. o MOBILE & WIRELESS Top Three Opportunities from Retailers Implementing Location Analytics in the Time of COVID (Selected Differences) Source: Retail Systems Research In general, how much of a priority is 5G planning and adoption for the following stakeholders at your company? Source: Verizon, Morning Consult; 2021 A top priority An important, but lower priority Not too important a priority Not a priority D n’t know / No opinion 54% 39% 34% 12% 10% 5% 38% 33% 13% 11% 5% 35% 38% 12% 10% 5% 32% 38% 14% 11% 5% 24% 9% 9% 4% 43% 41% 40% 38% 33% 33% 31% 47% 27% 62% 44% 33% 27% 38% 27% 27% 31% 39% 31% 31% 45% 27% 19% 36% 31% 16% 9% 23% Enhanced customer loyalty Optimized return on inventory investment A faster, more efficient supply chain Enhanced customer loyalty Taking advantage of new selling opportunities Faster time to action in responding to incidents Indoor reconfiguration planning FMCG GM Fashion, Specialty, Brand IT/IS leaders Top executive leaders (e.g., CEO, Presid nt) Engineering/Product Development/ R&D leaders Strategy/Operations leaders Sales/Marketing/Business Development leaders Challenges of deploying a passwo dless auth ntication model Financial investment Regulations around the storage of the data Time Resistance to change from employees Lack of skills and knowledge Resistance change from IT department Passwords will never truly be eliminated 16

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AT YOUR SERVICE: XaaS Unified, advanced communications are truly coming into their own, with the global UCaaS market projected to be worth nearly $70 billion by 2028, according to research from Fortune Business Insights. As this market is projected to grow by double digits annually through that date, investor interest is very high. Well run, disciplined companies have a chance to benefit on both sides of a transaction. To win in the hot M&A sector for this booming segment, a unified communications company will need to ensure that the right metrics, data and operational measures are in place. Much the same as prepping at home for sale, maintaining and investing in these fundamentals will pay off once a potential buyer begins to conduct their analysis and due diligence. Here are five operational areas to address when prepping your UCaaS business for possible acquisition: 1. Maintain accurate records Just as any entity needs to keep meticulous records around financials such as monetary investments, capital costs and revenue numbers, your business will need to maintain as precise operational records as possible. Keeping these files updated will help you document the developmental steps in your company’s growth, enabling you to track any value added to the business along the way. Equipment, expanded resources and proprietary technology all significantly increase the value of a target company should they be considered for acquisition. By performing this sort of due diligence internally, the process can run more smoothly once a potential buyer begins auditing your business. 2. Transition to cloud-based technology At this stage of the game, cloudbased infrastructure is a must. Buyers in the UCaaS space aren’t looking to buy something they immediately need to bring up to speed; a potential acquisition target needs to possess this innovative technology already. Combining technologies is enough of a challenge once an M&A deal has gone through; target companies will lose appeal if they are carrying outdated infrastructure. Ultimately, it’s worth the investment to get your technology up to speed with a focus on innovation. Once set at an optimum level, your cloud-based infrastructure can then be nurtured and maintained through SaaS software to simplify updates to that infrastructure over time. 3. Show projectable revenue In being considered for an acquisition, your business’s current financial state is obviously a key component to be studied. But beyond the present, a buyer company wants to have as clear an idea as possible what kind of profitability it can show down the line. Ideally, your financials should include five years of projections, as well as information on how the projections were determined. While it’s understood that unforeseen circumstances can throw a prediction off at any point, it’s still advantageous for a target company to be able to forecast revenue going forward; doing so can inform critical decisions for interested M&A parties. 4 Ensure tax compliance Of all the last-minute liabilities that can derail an active merger process, a tax-related infraction is one of the most common but also one of the easiest to avoid. Tax laws in the telecom space can be complicated and challenging to follow, especially for collaborative businesses focused on growth. But since tax compliance is a guaranteed topic during the acquisition process, it is critical that a system be put into place to head off any potentially damaging oversight. For larger businesses, this can mean instituting a specialized tax department within their organization; for smaller companies and startups, partnering with a respected tax advisor is worth the investment. With the expected continuation of hybrid work and distributed workforces and the trend toward collaboration tools to support them, UCaaS will continue to be an area of significant growth. Those businesses in the space positioning themselves for future M&A consideration can significantly help their case by investing resources into reviewing and optimizing these operational factors in advance. o Brent Maropis is CEO of By Brent Maropis FOURS WAYS TO PREP YOUR UCaaS BUSINESS FOR M&A 18 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

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By Martin Vilaboy According to some estimates, there are more than 15,000 SaaS companies around the world competing for the attention of business decision makers. And once any attention has been gained, the targeted business can choose to purchase a SaaS solution directly from the software vendor, or they can be redirected to the vendor’s indirect channel. They can purchase the software as part of a bundle from their ISP or telecom provider, or they could engage a trusted technology advisor, such as a value-added reseller or managed service provider. A new report put out by AppSmart, as a follow-up to a similar 2017 report, sheds some light on how and from where small and mid-sized business are finding, buying, using and best benefitting from cloud-based business applications. And with all things being equal, it turns out things are not equal in terms of results and return on investment. As far as the top reasons an SMB chooses to work with their primary source of software, knowledge, customer service and support and an easy buying process take the top three spots on the list, shows findings from the survey, which was conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of AppSmart. Trust that the provider/ vendor understands the SMB’s needs, as well as the expectation for lower costs come in a close fourth and fifth. “For any providers attempting to convince SMBs that they can’t trust competing SaaS sellers, the findings show this tactic seldom works,” said AppSmart researchers. SMBs put “lack of trust in other providers” last in the list of reasons for choosing a SaaS partner. Similarly, providers cannot assume that SMBs will continue to buy from them because of the inherent barriers or “headaches” to switching providers. AT YOUR SERVICE: XaaS How SMBs are buying and benefitting from cloud business apps THE SaaS SALES JOURNEY 20 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

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AT YOUR SERVICE: XaaS Only 25 percent of responding SMBs said that they don’t want to disrupt their business by switching providers, leaving 75 percent that would turn to a provider offering better knowledge or higher levels of customer support. This is especially true considering that when SMBs select their primary providers/vendors based on the level of knowledge of technology and customer service and support, they are more likely to say that they’re getting good ROI from their business technology, showed the AppSmart findings. Looking at the scorecard as it stands now, about half of SMBs (51 percent) purchase their SaaS business software from vendors directly, growing slightly from the 49 percent that said they went straight to the vendors in 2017. However, technology advisors gained ground since the last survey, as well, with 28 percent of SMBs now turning to them for software versus 21 percent in 2017. ISPs/telcos slipped from 27 percent in 2017 to 20 percent in 2021. Software vendors likewise are doing the best job of communicating to customers and prospects about new products and services. Marketing communications from vendors effectively ties at the top with communications from industry organizations and IT professional organizations in terms of where SMBs hear about new SaaS solutions. The remaining top five sources feature another tie between IT trade publications and websites and colleagues in similar organizations, at 36 percent each. Technology advisors rank seventh (32 percent) out of nine sources while ISPs/telecom providers rank eighth (28 percent). Breaking down SMBs by size, the figures show that larger SMBs (101-250 employees) are much more likely to turn to a technology advisor, such as a VAR, MSP or other channel partner, for information on new SaaS solutions, at 44 percent compared to only 23 percent of small SMBs (1 to 10 employees) and 35 percent of medium SMBs (11-100 employees) who said the same. For SMBs that get their SaaS information from technology advisors, they are about equally likely to agree as disagree that they are getting good ROI (32 percent versus 29 percent), “which shows that messages emphasizing the value of solutions aren’t getting through to SMB targets,” said AppSmart researchers. The same applies to SMBs getting their information from ISPs/telecom companies, where they are split between agreeing (28 percent) and disagreeing (27 percent) that they see good ROI. Some small SMBs (15 percent) aren’t being reached by any of these sources. These SMBs are also significantly less likely to agree (only 5 percent) that they’re getting good ROI for their technology investments. Once an SMB prospect learns about a new solution, the factors most important to selecting an advisor or provider are pricing and overall cost savings (44 percent), easy-toaccess customer service (43 percent), industry knowledge (43 percent), “knowledge of business our size” (35 percent), the existence of useful selfservice tools (33 percent) and recommendations from a colleague or friend (29 percent). Location ranked last, “perhaps reflecting the shift to remote/hybrid work models and digital adoption,” said AppSmart. The Return The type of provider an SMB ultimately chooses has a direct impact on the type of return the business gets from its investment, the AppSmart and Wakefield figures suggest. After all, the vast majority of SMBs (84 percent) experience at least some difficulty in using new SaaS solutions. Most notable are difficulties surrounding maintenance Which of the factors are most important to you in selecting a technology advisor? Pricing and overall savings 44% Easy-to-access customer service 43% Knowledge of my industry 43% Knowledge of business our size 35% Offers useful self-service tools 33% Recommended by colleagues or friends 29% Local to my community 27% None of these are important 3% Source: Wakefield Research; AppSmart How do you generally hear about a SaaS solution? Professional organizations in our industry 38% Marketing communications from software vendors 37% Professional organizations for those working in IT 37% Trade publications or websites for IT professionals 36% Colleagues at similar organizations 36% Trade publications or websites for our industry 33% Our technology advisory service 32% Our telecom or internet provider 28% Other 1% I haven’t learned about new SaaS solutions through any of these sources 7% Source: Wakefield Research; AppSmart 22 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

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AT YOUR SERVICE: XaaS and troubleshooting, adopting or migrating to the service, and training staff tied with selecting the service. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed (24 percent) indicated that purchasing the service is usually difficult. Even so, more than half (56 percent) of SMBs strongly agree that they’re getting good ROI from the investments they make in business technology. But SMBs that use technology advisors are more likely to agree that they get good ROI from their business technology investments compared to those that don’t use technology advisors. Using outside professional assistance for adoption and migration also increases the likelihood of achieving good ROI, with 96 percent of those that do agreeing or strongly agreeing that they see good ROI for their investment in business technology. Perhaps this is not surprising. “Unlike large enterprises, SMBs often lack the IT staff, skills and experience, time and budget to deploy technology within their business and drive user adoption of the new technology,” said the AppSmart report. “Without guidance and assistance from external partners such as technology advisors, it can be difficult for SMBs to maximize the value they get from new software to achieve a good return on investment.” Indeed, small SMBs are less likely (47 percent) to strongly agree that they achieved good ROI from their business technology investments, while medium (62 percent) and large (61 percent) companies are more likely to strongly agree. Incidentally, those that aren’t using any SaaS applications are more likely to disagree (29 percent) that they get good ROI, with only 5 percent agreeing that they get good ROI from their technology investments. The survey also found that SMBs experiencing certain pain points are more likely to disagree that they see a satisfactory ROI from there technology investment. The difficulties that are most likely to negatively affect perceptions of a return include issues with ongoing management, maintenance and troubleshooting, migration and the solution selection process. In turn, two-thirds of SMBs use professional assistance for adoption or migration of new software, and those that do use professional assistance are more likely to agree that they see good ROI from their business technology. SMBs also report to “spending too much time” dealing with multiple SaaS suppliers. Nearly three-quarters (70 percent) of SMBs believe that their company spends more time than they should interacting with SaaS vendors and processing invoices because they use multiple SaaS suppliers. In 2017, 66 percent said they wanted to consolidate their cloud services purchases to have only one vendor to deal with. One of the drivers for this was having everything on one bill for easier invoice management. SaaS vendors and solution providers also shouldn’t be surprised if they encounter reluctance among SMB buyers to quickly pull the trigger on a new solution. During the uncertainty of the pandemic, SMBs were forced to rapidly make changes and deployment decisions without undergoing normal levels of due diligence. And according to the Wakefield Research survey, 52 percent of SMBs said they made SaaS investments in response to the pandemic that ended up not being a good fit for their businesses. It sounds like more SMBs could use the help of technology advisors and partners that understand not only the technology their selling but the needs of the business they are selling to. o Which of these aspects of using a new SaaS solution, if any, are usually difficult for your company? Maintenance and troubleshooting 34% Adopting or migrating to the service 33% Training staff on using the new service 32% Selecting the service 32% Ongoing management 29% Purchasing the service 24% None of these are difficult for us 16% Source: Wakefield Research; AppSmart Contributing Factors to Ensure Positive Growth in 2022 Source: CompTIA For Those with these difficulties... Source: Wakefield Research; AppSmart In 2021, picking up business from existing customers to ped the list of growth factors needed for the coming year Don’t believe they see good ROI Agree that they do see good ROI 42% 34% 34% 32% 32% 31% 24% 17% 17% 28% 34% 32% 31% 24% 45% 41% 41% 41% 32% Reaching new customer segments S lling new business lines/products Retur t normal commerce patterns Pickup i business with existing customers Higher COVID vaccination rates I proved sales/marketing Positive government action (i.e. deregulation) Entering new vertical markets Ongoing management Maintenance and troubleshooting Adoption and migration Solution selection Purchasing Launching business consulting services 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 24 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022


Today’s SMB (small to medium-sized business) faces way too many challenges. Whether it’s related to issues from the pandemic, supply chain shortages, economic downturn or poor decision-making, many companies have been left reeling in recent times. Factor in the ever-present threat of hackers and other malicious bad actors targeting one’s operations, and the threat of disaster only grows. That’s right – ransomware, spyware and other sophisticated cyberattacks are no longer the exclusive problem of the “big guys.” According to data presented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of all ransomware attacks are actually made against today’s SMB, which traditionally has fewer resources to either address or absorb such a strike. And when cashflow, reputation and success hinges on preventing downtime, these types of breaches can have devastating consequences. Companies need a plan to account for common mistakes such as credential sharing and poor password creation, elements the majority of SMBs do not have a handle on. For smaller organizations, the harsh reality of passwords is that nearly half of all workers choose their login credentials based on “personal information, meanings and memories,” per NordPass, while less than one-third of staffers create a unique password when setting or resetting their credentials. It’s common for employees to use the same login across multiple accounts, and passwordsharing among employees abounds. Meanwhile, according to LastPass, staff can spend as many as six hours per week either verifying identity or managing logins, and as many as 85 passwords are often employed per worker. The answer for many companies is to go completely, 100 percent passwordless. By Brady Hicks A guide to taking SMBs passwordless CYBER PATROL FORGET PASSWORDS 26 CHANNELV ISION | JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022

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