When it comes to industry events, there's always an awkward moment when you have to attempt to insert yourself into an interesting conversation, often with a glass of sparkling wine or canape in hand, and in the case of a reporter, a notebook and pen, too.
Last week I attended a very interesting unified communications roundtable, hosted by ShoreTel, at which a panel of analysts, end-users, and even a couple of channel types debated the concept at great length.
I think we came close to defining unified communications at one point, but it's often hard to tell.
Anyway, at this event there was much talk of businesses 'sleepwalking' into the unified comms environment.
There is no doubt now that end-users are adopting technology of their own accord, bringing tools such as smartphones and social networks into the workplace without recourse to their IT department and certainly without any hand-holding by the channel.
There is a huge opportunity here for the channel, but the problem for resellers is how to insert themselves into that conversation. These businesses are adopting UC organically, because it makes business sense to do so, and may not really have a concept of UC, like we do.
Think of it as something akin to the dawn of farming, which arose spontaneously again and again in different ancient cultures.
So are they going to welcome an approach from a UC reseller when they're managing quite well on their own? Maybe, but the channel now needs to bring something extra special.
I think It's obvious that education on a massive scale is needed, and at the minute, distributors and vendors are bravely shouldering much of that burden.
I believe resellers now have a duty to begin to educate themselves and to be seen to use the technology in their own shop. If you're out to sell the benefits of a truly connected business then you need to be connected yourself.
The term 'trusted advisor' is a bit of a cliche, but it is without a doubt what resellers need to become.
So bite the bullet, sidle up to that customer, and casually steer the UC conversation around to something that you can control as a reseller, rather than his employees.
This was first published in October 2010