- A local touch and customer centricity are benefits of sourcing office network and communications needs from a reseller as opposed to buying directly from a traditional telco.
- Service providers have dedicated teams and product ranges that are specifically designed to help channel and reseller partners sell into the diverse SME market.
Several major telcos have special divisions dedicated to wholesale market strategies. These teams take existing enterprise services and white-label them, or develop their own wholesale tailored solutions, in order to sell onwards to channel partners. In the UK market, Colt, TalkTalk Business, Vodafone Carrier Services and BT Wholesale are all classic examples. These providers’ wholesale portfolios have evolved beyond basic connectivity to include hosted UC and collaboration, contact centres, data centre services such as collocation and hosting, IP/Ethernet VPNs and growing ranges of cloud computing. The wholesale carrier services market environment is very competitive, which is a good thing for both third-party resellers and customers, because products need to offer price and performance benefits to survive. The efforts that carriers make to gain traction with their resellers may include e-bonding of systems so that the reseller can obtain accurate price quotes and provisioning timescales, as well as dedicated support and integration teams to help the SI or reseller implement solutions. Colt, for example, has invested heavily in automation systems for its network and data centres with a central objective of better supporting platforms for its indirect sales partners.
The advantages of sourcing network and IT from a reseller can include having a local operation in the vicinity to provide a close customer-centric experience (e.g., technicians readily available that can come to the office sites to troubleshoot issues). Larger telcos openly admit to challenges faced in serving a vast SME community, and their channel programs are designed to address this. To illustrate this point further, Belgacom’s Becloud strategy has over 160 IT reseller partners, enabling the carrier to indirectly target the diverse local SME market opportunity, which Belgacom estimates to be around 800,000 Belgian companies. However, customers need to check with their resellers about procedures should things go wrong (e.g., finding out whether there is a single point of contact and what the SLAs look like). This is because the company that actually owns the network infrastructure always has some pluses to offer for overall control of the network and conducting repairs.