Full on Transition

Full on Transition

Phil Purssey

In 2006 BT said they needed a channel that was able to deliver convergence to business users. So, driven by that customer requirement they undertook and completed a review of their multi-channel approach to the market. With many of the channel changes made or announced at the start of their financial year last April, Comms Business Magazine asked what the results have been like so far.

Phil Purssey, “At the half-year point we were just about ahead of budget having seen a huge shift in revenues from traditional to new wave business. Significantly however BT is now also holding on to our traditional minutes business as well – in fact many regions report that the position has in fact reversed and that we are gaining market share. This is a fantastic story given the highly competitive nature of our business.

“We are now working with the channel partners we announced following the changes made in April last year and in many instances we have a number of challenges in transitioning resellers to new wave. Some partner prospect lists look great – they have invested in skills and we continue to provide expertise to help them.

 

“One of the successes of 2006 was our ‘Think Big’ campaign which some of our channel partners put themselves forward for. The campaign was based around a convergence sales approach. We recognised that customers are equally enthused about the possibilities but needed help in understanding the benefits of a technology-based solution – especially the SME sector.

“The next six months will see BT move on from the cost drivers for convergence to using the infrastructure to take advantage of new applications. We see the debate surrounding the benefits of having a converged communications infrastructure as having moved on – people know what broadband can do and it is now all about developing those applications. BT Vision for example, is one of those ‘must have’ applications and demonstrates what BT is all about. 2007 will see more and more services and applications coming from BT.

“It’s not easy for BT to say we are an SP company – lots of changes are required and new skills are needed as well as having a network infrastructure to support the transition. However, our share price rises are no accident and reflect the successful changes we have already made. Every product we launch has to be successful; a recent example being the move of Fusion from the home-office environment to the SME and now Enterprise markets.

“I see that we are at a crossroads right now in that we have articulated a strategy to resellers and there is an understanding of VoIP and convergence at the user. Someone now has to work with users quickly to show them the benefits.”

 

21CN

The recent announcement that 21CN has its first customers up and running is good news for BT but what are channel partners saying? Are they getting the information they need, how will it affect them – are they concerned?

Purssey, “21CN will need a whole new range of BT partners to sell the benefits to users. Partners will sell services running on the network and great opportunities will open up for them. As we move forward our partners are seeing 21CN as more of an opportunity than a threat.

“BT is placing more investment in our channel activities than in direct sales. Gold level accredited partners now have one on one account management and we have put in place specialists for specific applications such as mobility.

“In the last couple of months we have opened up a Partner Manager Desk Team which provides partner access to desk based support people for help on quotations and ICT specialisms. At the same time BT is doing what we are talking to our partners about – re-skilling our own business.”

 

Call to Action

Purssey concludes that for 2007 his message to the channel is simple.

“If resellers have the ambition to take advantage of the infrastructure we are building and then take advantage of the services and applications we will be rolling out then we will welcome them with open arms and help them get up to speed.

“But, resellers have to understand that this is not something they can play at – it’s a full-on transition.”

 

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