Making Money with Lync - Part 2

30 Jul 2013

In part one of this article, I discussed three ways you can make money selling Microsoft Lync solutions:

1. Hardware sales

2. Design consulting

3. Implementation professional services

In this second part I will discuss three additional areas where you can make money with Lync:

4. Managed services

5. Hosted services

6. Complementary products and services

I first covered this information during the UC Summit 2013 presentation Jon Arnold and I delivered.

Managed Services

Once a Lync solution has been designed and effectively implemented someone needs to maintain it.

The on-going management of a Lync environment is an area where Cisco rightly points out that Microsoft and Microsoft partners still need to do more work. That being said, this also means that this is an area of great opportunity for partners willing to commit to and "step up" to providing a Lync managed service.

Microsoft has introduced the concept of Lync Certified Support Partners and there are currently over 100 partners listed across different geographies including global support partners such as Avanade, HP (a UC Summit sponsor), Unify Square and Modality.

Lync support partners should be able to support a complete Lync solution including software, server hardware, network, and telecom aspects. In my experience, some partners choose to include "value added" services such as monitoring and end-user support as part of their offerings.

Lync managed services provide an attractive opportunity for an on-going revenue stream provided you are able to attract and maintain satisfied customers.

Hosted Services

With the excitement around Cloud solutions, you may be interested in exploring adding a hosted Lync solution to your current product set.

There are several partner hosted Lync scenarios supported by Lync 2013:

Dedicated hosting - dedicated hardware for a single customer.

Virtual-dedicated hosting - Installing a dedicated instance of Lync on shared (virtualized) hardware using Hyper-V.

Partner hosted productivity cloud - select, large partners (currently HP, Atos, CGI, Dimension Data, NTT, T-Systems, Tieto) have worked with Microsoft to build "in-country" cloud offerings focused at enterprise and government customers with 1,000+ users.

Lync multi-tenant hosted cloud - designed for telecom and hosting partners, the Lync Server Multitenant Hosting Pack allows you to create a shared cloud infrastructure, including integration with Exchange, targeted at SMB customers. This solution provides shared Lync instances on shared hardware.

In my opinion, making money offering any of the above hosted Lync offerings requires a strong expertise with and a deep understanding of Lync along with accurate market data supported by a detailed business plan. You need to do your "homework" in order to succeed in the increasingly crowded hosted-solution space.

However, even if your organization does not have, or does not choose to develop, deep Lync design and implementation skills, you can make money from Lync by offering it in a hosted configuration by reselling Office 365, which includes Lync, or by reselling another company's white-label version of hosted Lync. Recognize that at present Lync as included with Office 365 is not a complete telephony replacement solution. Microsoft at the Lync Conference earlier this year did indicate that it expected to bring "enterprise voice" (the ability to receive calls from and place calls to "regular" phones) to Office 365 within the next 18 months.

Like on-premises managed services, hosted Lync services also provide the opportunity for a recurring monthly revenue stream.

Complementary Products and Services

Because Lync is not only a communications and collaboration solution but also a robust communications development platform, once installed, Lync provides a multitude of opportunities for organizations to add additional complementary functionality or integrate communication-enabled business process (CEBP) mechanisms that leverage Lync.

Recognizing Lync is a communication platform provides many opportunities to increase revenue by developing or reselling products that augment and extend the core functionality of Lync.

You could focus on providing add-on contact center functionality to existing Lync deployments. The "out of the box," "response group" functionality included with Lync only provides basic agent call queues and really no call center-type reports. Given this, several third-party vendors, including UC Summit participant Interactive Intelligence, have created strong and feature-rich contact center extensions that work great in a Lync environment.

There are thirteen specific contact center applications that are currently listed as qualified under the Microsoft interop program for Lync 2010 and Lync 2013. These include applications from companies such as Altigen, Aspect, Clarity, ComputerTalk, Genesys, and prairieFyre and others.

While Lync provides some strong "out of the box" usage reporting capabilities, this has not prevented other Lync vendors such as Unify Square from enhancing the reporting capabilities specifically around billing and chargebacks. More traditional VoIP monitoring software companies, such as NetScout and Prognosis, have also extended their product offerings to support Lync. Providing enhanced reporting solutions to new and existing Lync implementations is another complementary service area that can drive revenue.

Recently more "creative" complementary services for Lync have begun appearing. A few examples include:

Insource Virtual Assistant - a cost-effective touch screen or kiosk that helps automate the lobby or front office functions to receive deliveries or visitors. Visitors touch a "Meet with someone" button and then indicate who they are scheduled to meet. The Lync platform informs the respective party of the visitor and can connect an audio or video call as appropriate.

LyncMe Product Family - from Modality Systems encompasses several products including the TrainMe product that prompts Lync users (using the power of presence) to watch specific training videos (in the Lync client) which explain how to use features of Lync. The Modality website indicates that they are actively seeking resellers and "offer attractive reseller pricing and terms."

Trivia Engine for Lync - is a knowledge reinforcement tool that uses an engaging, e-Learning "game show" format. Using a Lync instant messaging session, participants compete to answer the most questions correctly as quickly as possible for the best score. As they compete they learn while having fun, and Trivia Engine allows you to track their learning progress. (Disclosure: I am a partner in the company developing Trivia Engine.)

Coupling complementary products with Lync not only increases your potential revenue stream but may allow you to better differentiate your solution from other Lync integrators and resellers.

A Foregone Conclusion: You Can Make Money with Lync

Once again, I am not suggesting that Lync is a perfect UC solution. However, Lync clearly is a rapidly evolving and improving UC solution and it is a solution that garners tremendous interest from a large variety of potential customers. As a reseller, systems integrator or consultant, if you choose to promote Lync there is definitely money to be made.

Does your company already make money selling Lync solutions? Are you looking to include Lync solutions in your future product mix? Have you decided not to promote Lync? I welcome any and all feedback in the comments below or via twitter @kkieller. I will respond to each and every comment.


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