AstriCon 2018 Recap

AstriCon

Bicom Systems is in full swing this year for trade shows! We attended WISPAPALOOZA and AstriCon at the same time. How you ask? By dividing our best and brightest and conquering in Las Vegas, Nevada and Orlando, Florida!

If you have not gotten a chance to read our WISPAPALOOZA Recap, click here.

What is AstriCon?
AstriCon is a 3-Day user conference and exhibition that has been continuously running for the past 15 years. The event stimulates networking, education, expands awareness and discusses the future of the communications industry. AstriCon is used as a learning opportunity to hear from developers, customers and integrators. The whole event is dedicated to Asterisk.

Now you are probably asking, well what is Asterisk?
Asterisk is the most widely used Open Source Communications platform in the world! It is an open source framework for building communication applications, so it basically turns your ordinary computer into a communications server (Source: Asterisk). The project started back in 1999 and is now used by businesses, call centers, carriers, government agencies etc. across the globe. It is free and powers IP PBX Systems, VoIP gateways and much more.

The AstriCon Expo Floor gives businesses in the Asterisk community an opportunity to showcase their products and services. So, off to AstriCon we went!

43712876_1859210510827246_3633586888406728704_n

Q: Has Bicom Systems Attended AstriCon before?
A: Yes! Bicom Systems has been present in one way or another every year since AstriCon has begun.

Q: As a repeating attender, how was this year’s show different from in the past?
A:
This was the first year Sangoma ran the AstriCon event. The ‘curiosity’ types of attendees are slowly fading out because Asterisk is no longer ‘new’ and we are developing a mature crowd of guests. We noticed there were many opportunities to create new curiosity, for example in private conversation Bicom Systems expressed that the show would benefit hugely from a ‘hack-a-thon’.

The location of the show was held in the same place as last year, which may play a factor in number and of conventioneers that attended. With every trade show, there are always room for improvement and we are looking forward to seeing what Sangoma does next year!

Q: What did Bicom Systems do at AstriCon?
A: This year we were a Gold Sponsor for the event and an exhibitor. We had our own booth and showcased our new features and latest products. The attendees had a chance to meet our team and learn more about us as a company and the industry. As a guest, Bicom Systems had the ability to listen in on presentations, meet potential customers and network with other businesses in the communications industry.

Q: Did Bicom Systems have a key note slot this year?
A: No. Unfortunately, we did not reserve a key note slot for this year’s trade show. We anticipate making more contributions next year with our new products and services offered with our SERVERware.

45341035352_df0597df09_hQ: What kinds of companies attend AstriCon?
A: In the beginning, AstriCon attendees were primarily technicians. We then seen an increasing number of business owners beginning to attend. In the past years there has been a decline in business owners as mentioned before the event attracts a mature crowd and primarily the ‘same’ people.

Q: What is the best thing you get out of AstriCon every year?
A:
It is always interesting to speak with other businesses and learn new ways they are using Asterisks. The information sessions are always useful. This year Simon Woodhead, from Simwood, spoke on security and ‘Why We Must Prioritize Privacy’. The session was very informative, educational and hilarious. Also, the familiar smiley faces are always a plus!

Q: What was your main takeaway?
A:
  This year the event was smaller than in the past. It was intimate, but we realized we enjoyed when everyone was new and unfamiliar vs veterans and mature with the topics. Technology is changing and becoming more challenging, it would have been great to see those changes at AstriCon this year.

Q: What would you like to see differently next year?
A: 
A bigger event in a new location. Different and more presentations. New topics like ‘How to Increase Communication Sales’ or other suggestions from the Asterisk community.  This was their first year running the event and they have not had a chance to reflect. They still have a chance to improve it and we are looking forward to seeing their new ideas for AstriCon 2019!

40275196_1783228545045716_2412438995079266304_n

We would love to hear your thoughts from AstriCon! Leave a comment below and tell us what you thought about the conference. Feel free to contact us with suggestions for AstriCon.  We have the resources to research and deliver.

If you did not attend AstriCon or any trade show this year, read this previous blog post on ‘Why Trade Shows are Important to Attend’.

If you want to learn more about AstriCon User Conference, check out their website here.

WISPAPALOOZA 2018 RECAP

WISPAPALOOZA

Bicom Systems had another successful year at WISPAPALOOZA! This was our second year entering the trade show as a Platinum Sponsor and we are looking forward to WISPAMERICA 2019!

If you were at WISPAPALOOZA this year, did you see our new booth? Or get a chance to attend our User Group Meeting? If not, check out this previous blog post on ‘Why Trade Shows are Important to Attend’.

To start, what is WISPAPALOOZA?
WISPAPALOOZA, also known as WISPA, is a 5-day event that brings together the WISP (Wireless Internet Service Providers) world. Industry experts, leading suppliers and customers like you come together to network, learn, engage in demos and become inspired. This year it was hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada and had over 160 Exhibitors showcasing their products and services.

Team members from our global company came to WISPAPALOOZA from all over. Let’s hear their story!

Team atbooth[359]

Q: Was this the first time Bicom Systems attended WISPAPALOOZA?
A:
No. This was our third WISPA event and second time attending WISPAPALOOZA. WISPA also hosts a tradeshow called ‘WISPAMERICA’ that we also attended this year.

Q: Was this the first time being a Platinum Sponsor?
A:
No. We were also a Platinum Sponsor last year.

Q: What did Bicom Systems do at WISPAPALOOZA?
A:
This year was a little different for us because we hosted our first ‘User Group Meeting’. We held this on Monday, before the show officially started and had three guest speakers.

Our guests covered topics such as; marketing, user experience, regulatory and compliance and it made our session more appreciated. The speakers generated a lot of conversation and interest from the attendees. The audience became very excited to upgrade to our latest versions once they saw what they were missing.

Final booth[358]

Q: Are there any awards or prizes given out?
A:
Yes. There are 8 categories for awards. Bicom Systems was nominated for “Manufacturer of the Year”. Although we did not win, the WISPA board of directors spoke highly of our impact on the organization.

Q: Did you participate in any information sessions?
A:
Yes! There were many information sessions going on during the 5-day trade show. Information sessions are used to share expertise, network and learn more about the topic.

Saulio Reyes (Account Manager) from our team, alongside companies such as Amarillo Wireless, Powercode and Network Business Systems,  participated in an information session called ‘Scaling WISP from 0-1500’. It focused on how to scale up business operations and the best practices to do so.

Kevin Langford (Account Manager) also from Bicom Systems, spoke at ‘Starting a WISP 101’. There were 7 other speakers for this session and they analyzed the many considerations that are involved when getting a WISP started. Kevin focused his presentation mainly on not just selling internet and guided the audience into VoIP.

Finally, Kevin (Account Manager) also spoke at ‘WISP’s in the Clouds/UCaas and ‘How WISPs Can Capitalize’. These information sessions reminded customers that they are running a business first and a network second. They were extremely educational and discussed the opportunities companies have to grow their customer base.

Q: When you sponsor WISPA, you receive a keynote speaking slot. How did that go?
A: 
That is right. When you sponsor WISPAPALOOZA as a Diamond or Platinum sponsor you are given a Vendor Spotlight. On behalf of Bicom Systems, Account Manager Kevin Langford, presented a 1-hour product description Q&A information session. The presentation dissected each product and their many editions. It gave the audience a chance to learn in depth about our current and future products, their newer updates and much more. It was so engaging that everyone who attended the keynote, stopped into our booth afterward to learn more!

Image result for wispapalooza

Q: Aside from businesses, who attends WISPAPALOOZA?
A: (Kevin Langford):
 In my experience, you have 4 types of people who attend trade shows like WISPAPALOOZA.
1) Curious customers who are interested in learning about the industry
2) Consumers who want to start a WISP
3) Businesses who are a WISP/ISP
4) ‘Techie’s’ (Tech-i-es: ‘a person who is very knowledgeable or enthusiastic about technology and especially high technology’) – Merriam-Webster

Q: If other businesses and customers were to ask if WISPAPALOOZA was worth attending, what would your advice be?
A: (Kevin Langford):
 Have a game plan. You cannot be in two places at one time and although the committee tries not to schedule two popular information sessions at the same time, it happens. Research the vendors who are going to be there. Plan your days. Make a schedule.

Thanks for reading and we will see you at the next trade show!

Image result for wispa america

If you are still considering attending WISPAPALOOZA as a vendor, check out this blog post by Minim. The company’s CEO seamlessly breaks down the event and all the dos/don’ts all from a newbies perspective.

If you are interested in learning more about Bicom Systems visit our website here.

 

Get Ahead in the Cloud: A Case Study with The Maynard Group

the-maynard-groupThe Maynard Group started out 27 years ago in California as a small interconnect company. Today it is a comprehensive Telephony Provider with Cloud, VoIP, Unified Communications, and Mobility based solutions.

How did The Maynard Group find its success? Their mission statement is to “end the hassles of managing multiple vendors” and to save time and money by simplifying telecommunications management. We have been talking quite a bit lately about one-stop-shops and providing all of the contemporary solutions that the modern market demands. By following this strategy and offering outstanding customer service, The Maynard Group grew quickly through the referral network to several thousand customers.

But let’s take a step back, about five years ago The Maynard Group was new to VoIP and had not yet adopted the cloud. They were feeling the pressure to offer a cloud solution and began the process of updating their product models and searching for a partner that could support them in expanding to full support of the cloud.

In 2016, The Maynard Group signed on with Bicom Systems to take their business to the next level. Read their story at www.bicomsystems.com/the-maynard-group

 

 

 

 

Resellers, Dealers, Partners – What’s the Difference?

resellers

Resellers, Dealers, Channel Partners, VARs, Distributors…

These are all words that get thrown around in our industry, but what exactly do they mean and what is the difference between them?

Resellers, as their name implies, purchase a product or service from a parent company and sell it to end users for a profit. Of course the words “purchase” and “sell” are used loosely here; in today’s cloud world, this could really mean “rent” or “host”. Typically a reseller will brand the product as their own and not reveal the parent company to customers. The benefit of a reseller relationship is profit and business growth for both the vendor and the reseller.

Dealers, on other hand, have less involvement with the product itself and focus more on making sales. They do not assign their own brand to the product as they are simply selling it on behalf of a parent company. They may provide support and upgrades to their customers, but it will be no secret that they are acting on behalf of a third-party. For this model to work, the parent company must only sell through dealers with no option for direct sales.

Channel Partners are similar to resellers, but have a deeper, bilateral relationship with the parent company. A partner program will lay out the expectations and benefits of such a relationship. The parent company will be more invested in their partners and more dependent on their success. Together, they may expand the products and solutions to become a one-stop-shop that encourages long-term commitments. The partnership will involve consistent communication, shared marketing materials, ongoing involvement in the product, and more.

VARs are Value-Added Resellers that add their own services to a third-party solution.

Distributors are similar to dealers but maintain an even looser relationship to the manufacturer.

OUR INDUSTRY

Many of the parent companies in our industry work with resellers. They are white label and give full control of the product to their resellers, but do not necessarily form a close relationship.

Other parent companies choose the dealer strategy and sell their solutions with their brand still attached. Unfortunately we have seen some of these well-known companies selling through dealers while also selling directly to end users – a very sticky situation to be sure.

Bicom Systems chooses to work with partners. Our business is all about relationships and helping you grow your brand. Our motto (and part of every blog piece lately!) is your success is our success. We believe a partner-centric model is best because it grows our business, grows your business, and ultimately grows the market.

DO NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN THE TERMINOLOGY

When shopping around for a vendor, do not get caught up in the terminology. A so-called “partner program” could actually be a dealer network in disguise. A solution advertised for “resellers” may actually be part of a true channel partnership. Bicom Systems often uses the word “reseller” for the sake of recognizability, even though our selling model is strictly based on partnerships.

The point is, the words that the vendor uses do not matter as much as their actions. Pay attention to what the vendor expects of you and what you will get in return.

Is their product white label? Do they offer marketing materials and other tools to grow your business? Will they require you to meet quotas? Will they ask for your end user details?

All of these things are more important than the terminology.

If you are interested in learning more about what it means to partner with Bicom Systems, please contact us today.

 

Why to Sell CCaaS Part 2: It Will Grow Your Business

contact center as a serviceLast week we introduced you to the idea of CCaaS and talked about a few reasons the market needs YOU to start selling it. Today we will shift our focus to the direct benefits to your business if you starting selling CCaaS.

In case you missed the last post and introduction (read it here), Contact Center as a Service is an add-on that improves the customer experience for nearly any kind of business. No longer just for contact centers, CCaaS is a simple, cloud-based, feature-rich service that most modern businesses now require. Selling it will increase your revenue and help you build your brand.

You will earn more from contact center customers

The retail price-per-seat for contact centers is nearly double that of a hosted seat. And your customers are willing to pay for it.

Many service providers incorrectly assume that their customers want VoIP for as cheap as possible. This notion is detrimental to both your business and that of your customer. Never forget that your customers and prospects are running businesses and are aware of their need for modern features and tools to achieve continued success.

VoIP is not a commodity. It is an indispensable business tool that has evolved to include new technologies like CCaaS. Your customers are probably just waiting for you to starting offering it.

CCaaS will increase your stickiness

CCaaS reduces customer churn in two ways.

First, as mentioned above, your customers probably already want these features. They may already be looking for them elsewhere. Start meeting that need before someone else does.

Second, anything that stimulates customer interaction and commitment is good for stickiness. CCaaS is one more piece to connect your business and that of your customer. The relationship will deepen and they will be more likely to stick around long-term

CCaaS will help you build your brand

Add-ons like CCaaS transform your individual products into bundles and packages that strengthen customer commitment, increase your product value, and help you continuously add emerging technologies and trends.

Nowadays we are all short on time, so one-stop-shops are very appealing. Your customers will appreciate a company that meets all of their needs with just one monthly bill.

Finally, CCaaS could be your first step into many new markets and niches. Starting with Cloud technology and expanding to UCaaS and other services, the opportunity to expand your business is yours for the taking.

Would you like to start selling CCaaS? Bicom Systems is partnering with ThinQ to create an ideal CCaaS solution.

Cloud-based, built for VoIP, award-winning Toll-Free Least Cost Routing… We are so excited about this partnership that we decided to host a webinar together to tell you all about it.

Bicom Systems + THINQ
A CCaaS Product That Will Fly Off Your Shelves
Tuesday August 28th at 1:00 PM EST
Register now

 

Learn more about CCaaS and the Bicom + ThinQ solution at www.bicomsystems.com/ccaas.