In the immediate aftermath of Vodafone’s announcement they are to commence 5G trial in seven UK cities this autumn, Comms Business met with Helen Freestone, their Director of Partnerships and Alliances, to discuss its potential and catch up on recent channel initiatives.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): It’s great to see Vodafone rolling out 5G trials in seven cities across the UK, setting the stage for faster speeds in these urban hotspots. How do you view the announcement?
Helen Freestone (HF): Vodafone won the largest block of spectrum in the latest 5G auction and these rapid trial deployments are a sure sign of our commitment; we are already working on devices with Ericsson. For users and channel partners considering how they can address the future these trials are great news and show they can be confident in working with Vodafone.
5G will enable all the cool, funky stuff such as AI, VR and IoT to be widely deployed. It will enable new applications that are yet to be imagined and defined and become an important part of the UK economy.
CBM: You said last year that you wanted to continue to invest in channels through training, upskilling and joint marketing initiatives. How has that progressed?
HF: Digitisation is central to our investment in the channel and we have delivered on this in the form of our new Digital Hub for partners where they can access over 100 assets to help them address the market.
A reseller wanting to set up a unified communications campaign with our One-Net product can download materials that can be re-imagined for their particular use or customer base – even rebranded in their own name.
The hub is a one-stop shop for partners where they can also access training for their staff and comes as a result of our working with partners for over a year on establishing what they wanted and how they wished to access these assets. Feedback so far from partners on the Hub has been great and validated the whole project.
We spoke previously of our desire to provide more in the form of customer value management (CVM). Vodafone has a key role to play in supplying unified communications solutions and we have a lot of user data which we are now leveraging to identify users with a propensity to buy certain applications. We are achieving this via combination of Vodafone knowledge, further research and data analytical tools to reveal and identify customers and opportunities for our partners where they can add further value.
It is important channel partner can see that we want to work with them, develop two-way dialogues on how to develop these new opportunities and drive business forward.
CBM: How are your activities in these areas translating in to sales?
HF: Very well; in the last 12 months our unified communications sales have increased four-fold as a direct result of this ‘propensity’ data identifying potential users and then helping partners with the right marketing materials to convert these opportunities. Over the same period we have seen a ten-fold increase in the number of partners selling our One-Net UC proposition which validates our strategy.
During this time we have introduced a number of iterative improvements in the One-Net offering and this will be a continual process.
We are all aware of how fast the market changes and it is key to remain agile, retain customers, add value and win new business by helping resellers become successful in the converged space.
One Net is a cloud-based unified communication service for Small and Medium sized organisations and delivers fixed and mobile communications through a single platform. This means that users can constantly be connected to customers, suppliers and colleagues through a single number, with audio and video conferencing options.
Resellers today are typically very advanced in the manner in how they engage with users. Conversations centre upon mobility and customer service excellence – it’s about staying connected to your business and having conversations about the future.
Those conversations include the topics of IoT and automations and will progressively include 5G.
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