As the VoIP market continues to develop, three quarters of channel members will be offering convergence services by 2007, but carrier support over commercial incentives will determine their selection of service provider, according to new research by Yankee Group, commissioned by Telstra Europe.
The channel recognises it has to adapt to the changing needs of business customers, with 75% expecting to be offering convergence services by 2007 and a further 58% expanding into new service segments during the next 12 months.
Carrier support for channel members was seen as the key driver for channel development, rather than the ability to offer competitive pricing incentives or lead generation, with 86% of respondents wanting dedicated account support from their supplier and account management/sales support (62%) and technical support (60%) being the most popular reasons for selecting a carrier.
Telstra Europe launched its Channel Accreditation programme in September 2005, which provides channel members with professional sales training market development funds and dedicated sales and marketing support across its range of voice and data products. The programme is being used to ensure that, whether from a traditional voice or data background, Telstra’s channel members can now successfully make the transition to selling converged services and maximise the revenue potential the convergence market is set to offer.
Ben LeFeuvre, Sales Manager, Telstra Europe said, “The convergence market represents a major opportunity for the channel. Selling new technologies brings new challenges and resellers are right to demand carrier commitment in a year which has been characterised by instability with some major carriers reducing their channel presence. Perhaps it is this uncertainty that is causing loyalty to waiver as 33% of respondents have changed supplier in the past 12 months.”
“Ultimately, channel members need to have the peace of mind that their carrier is committed for the long term. Telstra Europe is 100% committed to the channel. It also has the financial backing and support of its global parent company, Telstra Corporation, and is looking forward to a continued successful working relationship with its channel members throughout 2006 and beyond.”
Matthew Lambert, Sales Director at Telinet, a Platinum Service Provider in Telstra’s Channel Accreditation programme, added, “Telstra’s dedicated approach gives us high level support which has enabled us to confidently expand our business across the voice and data markets with the reassurance that we have the backing of a tier one carrier behind us.”
Worryingly, the channel is ignoring a huge market opportunity in data storage and security. Only 33% offer or plan to offer storage and back-up services even though the need to improve security, planning and disaster recovery was the top IT headache for UK businesses (46%). Furthermore, there is far less customer churn in the hosting and security sector (6%) as opposed to 15% across all telecoms services.
Anette Schaefer, Director Broadband & Media, Yankee Group EMEA, said, “To stay in touch with the evolving needs of business customers, the research highlights the need for carriers to also provide channel partners with bundled communications packages that accommodate both voice and data services such as VoIP and storage.”
LeFeuvre continued, “Telstra Europe can provide channel members with our traditional voice expertise coupled with an in-depth knowledge of the data services market, which includes co-location and hosting, managed networks, internet access, data security services and three state-of-the-art data centres in London, Docklands, Cambridge and Sunderland. Earlier this year, we launched a range of combined business broadband and telephony packages for channel partners and we are currently developing these packages to also include VoIP, conferencing, hosting and security services. For our channel service providers, Telstra’s range of voice and data services provides the added flexibility for them to be able to package up multiple communication services for their clients.”