By Charlie Pagliazzo, VP, Granite Telecom
Recent changes in the telecommunications industry support that channel partners will continue to have space to thrive, provided that they work to customize each telecom vendor’s specific value propositions to the end user customer.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 did what few pieces of legislation ever did—it spawned an industry of competition and innovation that led to an incredible array of services for businesses and other consumers. The ’96 Act also was specific about requiring open access to the country’s then-existing network infrastructure (TDM/copper). As networks are upgraded to TCP/IP, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has been required address competition and access issues anew.
The FCC’s recent order requiring telecom carriers to provide wholesale services to competitors at reasonably comparable rates, terms and conditions during the transition from traditional copper to IP-based networks ensures that channel partners will continue to be able to offer enterprise customers lower-cost telecom alternatives in partnership with competitors in the future. Maintaining a competitive market during and after the transition will ensure that business customers will continue to benefit from the multiple choices, lower and predictable prices, and improved and reliable service that competition fosters. At the same time, it will ensure that channel partners and competitors will continue to be able to work together in mutually beneficial ways.
What was true in the past, and is true today, will be true going forward: the most successful channel partners will be those who take advantage of the competitive telecom environment by recognizing that all competitors are not the same and that different competitors offer different solutions. Being able to effectively partner to connect the solution-appropriate competitors to enterprise customers will be a critical component of success.
For instance, when looking for the appropriate partner for a large enterprise customer with a nationwide footprint that requires a coast-to-coast telecom solution, a channel partner would be well advised to be familiar with the comparatively few competitors who can provide the asked for comprehensive and broad solution, and partner with them accordingly. For a smaller customer with a regional footprint, channel partners can bring more competitors’ solutions to the table, including those with smaller region-appropriate footprints.
Channel partners can also find greater success by working with competitors to capitalize on other selling points that enterprise customers are increasingly prioritizing. Generally, as telecom networks transition to IP-based services, businesses are looking for ways to streamline their communications services with a lower monthly or annual spend. Channel partners can look to foster relationships with competitors that offer solutions that address enterprise customers’ desire to optimize efficiencies while bringing cost savings.
The benefit to channel customers is huge. Channel partners working with large multi-site enterprise customers, for example, will find it advantageous to partner with one competitor that can provide a one-stop-shop communications solution that offers uniform savings instead of with a collection of competitors that provide disparate regional solutions. Here, the savings on telecom management and other internal operating costs, such as the impact of streamlined billing, that a nationwide solution provides would be an important value proposition for the channel partner to emphasize to the large business customer.
With these factors in mind, channel partners will be able to work with telecom competitors well into the future to provide enterprise customers with solutions that meet their needs while maintaining and augmenting partners’ revenue base.
Granite Telecommunications was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Quincy, Mass.