Mobile mover…

Mobile mover…

Keith Horsted

Keith Horsted

Mobile is the latest business venture for Nine Telecom Group, which is defying the downturn and expanding into this new area, from its established fi xed line business. Here, Keith Horsted, mobile services manager at Nine Telecom, explains the strategy behind the move to mobile…

We see adding mobile as a natural progression to providing an holistic service to our dealers and resellers alike,” explains Horsted. “The key difference from what is already on offer is the way we do business; we are 100% channel focused and we haven’t deviated from that approach. We don’t beat people over the head for commitments that simply add to the pressure of doing business,” emphasises Horsted.

“The addition of mobile to Nine Telecom’s existing portfolio is part of its strategic development to provide its dealers and resellers with a comprehensive toolkit that will differentiate them in the market and add value to their customers.”

Empowered people

Horsted says the company’s mobile proposition has been designed to put

choice back into the hands of the indirect channel, both mobile and fi xed line. He explains: “We can offer a fl at rate and bundled proposition that can be used as a tool for mobile dealers to acquire new business and retain existing business. In addition, we are demystifying the complexities, or at least the perceived complexities, that have traditionally shrouded the mobile market to make it easier for our fi xed line dealers to sell.”

“We’ve also developed a billing system which supports a single bill for fi xed, mobile and data, which can be collected through a single direct debit if acceptable to the customer,” says Horsted. “We are developing a reseller interface that will make us even easier to do business with than ever before. We will also be offering electronic contracts, so that we cut down the paperwork as part of our contribution to the environment but also to speed up the sales cycle, which means that dealers and resellers get paid sooner.”


Make room…

As to why Nine Telecom believes there is room for it in the UK mobile dealer market, given that there are many established, trusted businesses serving this area already, Horsted states: “It’s true that there are many companies already in the mobile market place and it could be argued that the market is saturated. However, what we are seeing is a huge opportunity to combine fi xed, mobile and data under one provider who has the fl exibility and understanding of the technologies available to satisfy the customer requirements, but more importantly, to understand those requirements in the fi rst place.

“The days of supplying isolated products and services are limited, as more and more customers are looking to outsource their technical services or at least to source their requirements from a single trusted provider,” he continues. “Most dealers and resellers don’t have the time, ability or inclination to satisfy customer requirements that straddle multiple disciplines, especially when the direct margin could be relatively small. This is not a criticism of the channel, but simply a fact,” Horsted states.

“The real strength of our dealers and resellers is their unique relationship with their customers, which is what we support and enhance by offering simple and robust products and services, as well as direct support in face to face meetings as an extension to their own business.”


Introducing Nine

Nine Telecom is currently better known for its brand rather than what it actually does, by the mobile channel. It has been supplying the indirect channel in the fi xed arena for eight years, and now supports over 50,000 SMEs through its 120 dealers and 175 resellers. This business is a substantial one, with a target year-end revenue of £35 million.

It recently acquired Club Communications, so Nine Telecom Group is made up of Nine Telecom, Nine Wholesale and Club Comms. The acquisition provided Nine Telecom Group with the opportunity to reassess its infrastructure. This in turn provided the perfect opportunity to add the new mobile division to the Nine Telecom Group ranks, says Horsted.

He comments on the need for convergence in the business: “The integration of mobile and data provides us with the ability to create innovative tariffs across a range of combined products and services, that actively rewards both the channel and the end users for their business. This integration is aimed at retaining customers and satisfying their needs for as long as possible, as it’s more cost effective to retain existing customers, than fi nd new ones. Our strategy is to develop and integrate other value added products and services and to educate the channel regarding their use. This means that things like software as a service offerings are likely to be a key area of expansion over the coming months.”

Continuing, Horsted states: “The word convergence is often used in the context of combining technologies to achieve unifi ed communications, which is fi ne if you are in the communications industry. Yet the reality to end users is somewhat different. They just want something that adds value to their business and works. They really aren’t that interested in the technology behind the solution as long as it works.”


Merging borders

Nine Telecom Group is staffed to support both fi xed and mobile dealers to provide a complete solution to the end user, by fulfi lling the customer’s business needs without confounding them with technological hype. Horsted says: “The borders between fi xed, mobile and data are increasingly blurred, which is why we have actively recruited people who are multi-lingual in the sense that they can understand the technologies involved, but also their impact on the business and the individuals within the business. The gap in the market is about having the ability to translate the technology into how and what the proposition will add to the business, which extends way beyond someone selling a single product or service and walking away.

“Therefore dealers should be partnering with Nine Telecom to increase their ability to satisfy their customers’ developing communication needs,” enthuses Horsted. “The alternatives are to abdicate the opportunity to someone who can fulfi l the customer requirements, in which case the dealer adds no value, or invest in upskilling their existing workforce or recruiting specialists into the business, probably not an option in this economic climate.

“We have an untapped base that is looking for consolidated communications covering fi xed, mobile and data, that will save money but will more importantly improve their ability to survive the recession and emerge stronger as a result. We also have very successful dealers and reseller who share our ethos of value for money and loyalty. We are here for the long term and our education and support of our partners are key factors in achieving our aim. We are still acquiring companies that have bases that need our services, and therefore I am very optimistic for our future and the future of our dealers,” sums up Horsted.

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