Channel partners have always played a crucial role in telecoms to help vendors expand and develop their business and offerings.In the current and increasingly cloud oriented world, however, the challenge for partners to add value to telecoms vendors increases. Indeed, thanks to the cloud, everything can be installed and deployed from and to anywhere in the world. What challenges then, will the telecoms channel face in the era of the cloud, and how will it need to adapt to survive and thrive? Ian Moyse, Sales Director, Natterbox explores further.
The impact of cloud technology on the telecoms channel
In the current environment, the cloud is radically transforming the channel. Typically, there is no longer anything to install, as products and solutions can be deployed anywhere in the world at scale. This removes the need to have local partners: as long as you can speak to someone remotely, you don’t need anyone physically to implement your solution in different geographic locations.
Things become even more complex in telecoms, as technology potentially removes the need for localised and regional dealers and enables providers to run deals and deploy solutions remotely. This will disrupt the telecoms dealer networks, who will increasingly disappear or have to re-orient with new value propositions as technology allows customers to self-serve and install solutions themselves. The message is clear: the channel is worried. There is a disruption of the whole sector, with the cloud in telecoms, but, more globally, in the CRM world too. Resellers will need to consider transforming their business to a model where they truly add value to cloud offerings, sell their whole business or merge with others to get scale to survive; without an adjustment in the majority continuing with the same old holds high risk pf becoming marginalised and struggling to survive.
Challenges and opportunities for channel partners in the cloud age
The current cloud transformation means that traditional telecoms providers will need to follow the same evolutionary path that IT providers have done, by moving a good portion of their business and leading with new cloud offerings, often from new cloud led vendors, not relaying on the traditional brand names. As a result of the differing cloud value proposition, telecoms providers, both new and old, will not need the same channel partners because they won’t require the same type of channel value. This will gradually shrink and marginalise profits for channel partners as it has in the IT space.
The opportunity then, lies in the growing need for business process alignment, taking telephony and merging it into the Customer Experience and Sales Productivity landscapes. Look at the Salesforce ecosystem, where the opportunity to align a phone system to the clients Salesforce investment goes way beyond the easy click to dial that most can do.
The Salesforce platform approach has allowed the disruption of what we traditionally think of as the telecoms channel, because now vendors can deliver their solutions from the cloud instead of relying on locally installed PBX, phones on desks and clunky installations at each location. Having a truly Salesforce embedded telephony solution for example allows a Salesforce administrator with no telecoms skills or experience to manage the whole platform without leaving their familiar Salesforce interface!
Channel partners should focus on transforming expertise and focus from resell, install and maintain physical devices to understanding client workflows, customer experience and business processes, although for many this is no mean feat and traditional sales and implementation staff will likely need re-training in their approach and face discomfort in the new world approaches.
We have a semi-perfect storm where telecoms resellers will face new competitor vendors introduced to clients from a different type of channel partner, clients will be asking for new skills and functions as the bar is raised and traditional telecoms manufacturers cloud offerings (if they have them) will be found lacking in function and depth to meet the customers new needs.
Cloud has already disrupted the traditional IT supply chains, with many long time reseller names, vanishing through acquisition, merger or liquidation. We are set to see the same for the telecoms channel. Disruptive telecoms providers will keep setting the path with different models and propositions that traditional telecoms resellers need to take note of and adapt around before they find themselves marginalised and left behind.