Leading From The Front
There is always a moment when resellers who want to enter new, bigger markets, crave an opportunity to do so. Therefore it should come as no surprise when those operating in the call management space swoop on Oak's new three pronged channel expansion strategy.
Oak already boasts 1,000 reseller partners based around the globe, but the company has ambitious plans to double that number within a year. It’s busy working with manufacturers and distribution partners to multiply its partner base, with online training programmes and on-site tuition for larger resellers key components of a broader go-to-market campaign that is primarily founded on a trio of developments. “This year sees a big change for Oak, probably the biggest change in our history as we move forward on three fronts,” explained Phillip Reynolds, founder and Joint CEO.
“We’ll work hard at retaining Oak’s position in the SME segment with our Advance call recording, reporting and integration product group; and also move ahead with our new Evolve contact centre reporting solution on multiple platforms; and our new Clarify mid-market voice and data recording solution. This is not a marketing exercise, this is new software written by Oak’s development team on both sides of the Atlantic.”
It is worth noting that Reynolds wrote one of the first, if not the first, PC-based call logger in the world back in 1985. Fast forward 30 years and he is still blazing a pioneering trail, this time side by side with his son David who operates in North America. “We have teams on both sides of the Atlantic so we can jump on new technology waves that appear in North America and be ahead of the curve in the UK and Europe,” explained Reynolds. “But the biggest challenge for Oak, as for any business, is getting the best staff. We find that ‘home grown’ works incredibly well and many of our 50 staff have been with the company for 10 years or more.”
Oak is also investing heavily in OCP (Oak Communications Platform) which will underpin its future products. OCP is a high performance, high availability platform that integrates at the deepest level with switches, delivers real-time reporting, has advanced features for call recording, and is designed for hosted cloud and CPE-based solutions. The web interface has already gained a reputation in the industry as a benchmark for quality. This is just one of the innovations that secured Oak a top industry prize late last year. “The pinnacle of my and my son’s career was Oak winning the Comms National Awards Best Call Management Solution 2014,” stated Reynolds. “We must be doing something right.”
But what does this all mean to a reseller? “It means that they get to keep the SME products that they know and love with Advance, they can sell larger more sophisticated call recording solutions generating higher profits with Clarify, and with Evolve they join Oak in the next big growth area which is formal and informal contact centre reporting,” commented Reynolds. “Oak’s investment always has the reseller at the core of its planning.”
The biggest growth areas for Oak are call recording which continues to grow steadily in the SME space but is growing faster at the mid-market level of £20k to £40K, while contact centre reporting for all businesses is performing well. “Demand for ever increasingly sophisticated solutions at affordable prices is driving news sales,” added Reynolds. “We deliver on value to the SME market but with the addition of more exceptional technical staff we are delivering the same value to the contact centre sector as well as the voice and data recording market.”
Call management in the 21st Century has little in common with the call loggers of yesteryear that offered just historic reporting. Modern solutions provide live reporting, real-time call recording with PCI compliance, real-time screen popping of client records and detailed analytics that promote business improvements. “Productivity and performance is also driving new business sales,” commented Reynolds. “Customer service is at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. The channel are experts in this area. They’ve been talking the talk and walking the walk for many years. But the world has never been so competitive, never has there been so much demand for technology that delivers better customer service.”
Oak’s purpose has always been to change the landscape of call management by delivering technologically advanced solutions that meet customer service requirements at dealer affordable pricing. Now the company has taken its mission to the next level with its OCP communications platform which Reynolds claims will ‘revolutionise the industry in 2015’. “This is a platform with best of breed technology at every turn, a platform that is modular, that enables resellers to pick and choose what they require for each sales opportunity, a platform that can be CPE or hosted, and a platform that can be deployed in the cloud,” he enthused.
Nobody can deny Oak’s leading role in advancing the potential of call management, but according to Reynolds the surface has barely been scratched. “With some countries dropping ISDN the move to SIP must be globally assured,” he commented. “This means every customer on the planet should have call recording as standard with every single sale. We should also consider all businesses as a contact centre because the technology is now affordable across the board. Resellers can now approach mid-market voice recording opportunities with our support.”