Telecom operators in enterprise managed services have some experience of selling through channel partners such as local resellers or integrators. Even so, they have been slow to develop the commercial skills and systems to drive this important part of the business in the disciplined way that IT companies do. Now, however, there are signs that telcos are learning valuable lessons in channel partner management.
The cloud model of a centralized and hosted service platform and consumption payment is forcing telcos to think about their channel strategies, with the focus moving from delivering and installing boxes and technology to user advice, training, and self-service business benefits.
As it happens, the local and national equipment resellers, software integrators, and IT services support companies that are the mainstay of channel agreements want to move up the stack, beyond the increasingly standardized and commoditized software. This is leading telcos into new arrangements with different types of channel partner, including sourcing advisory firms, IT services aggregators, specialist value-added resellers (VARs), regional SIs, and even network equipment manufacturers. Ovum highlights some of these in our new report Telco Moves in the ICT Channel.
Telcos need to plan to get the best out of the channel
SI giants and IT outsourcers have good experience and processes in channel management; telcos less so. Consumer mobile retail experience does not equip the global telco for the managed ICT services world.
Vodafone has a plan for global ICT services convergence, and one small but significant part of that will be to reorganize channel partnerships in one of its key global markets, India, where it needs to consolidate hundreds of partners and standardize processes and services support. VARs and integrators offer good opportunities for telcos to extend managed services support, but as Telefonica O2′s experience in the UK with 2e2 showed, the telco needs insight into the partner’s commercial performance, too.
Smaller telcos, especially those with emerging IT services capabilities, are moving to take advantage of this type of opportunity. Colt’s approach in signing agreements with a series of new partners for cloud ICT services in European markets provides a good model of closely engaging and matching capabilities with prospective business and technology partners.