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What Arkadin’s ConferencePlus Purchase Means for Partners

Now that Arkadin has wrapped the purchase of ConferencePlus Inc., channel partners can expect some changes all good, if the company follows through on intended plans.

Late last year, Arkadin, a global collaboration solutions provider, said it was buying ConferencePlus, owned by Westell Technologies Inc. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed and the transaction closed at the end of the year.

Through the acquisition of ConferencePlus, Arkadin said it became the third-largest independent collaboration service provider in North America and consolidated its position as the second-largest collaboration service provider in Asia and Europe, where it is headquartered. That first point is critical for Arkadin. “Buying ConferencePlus really bolsters our footprint across North America. It doubles our business in North America,” said Mark Alexander, president of Arkadin’s North American operations.

The strategy also brings new employees, channel partners and platforms to Arkadin. The provider now boasts about 300 staff members and runs two large operations centers. And with the addition of ConferencePlus’ agents and resellers, Arkadin has 70 channel partners “and pretty significant revenue stream” from those salespeople, Alexander said.

Finally, the Arkadin-ConferencePlus union makes the most of two sets of strengths. Arkadin had built a global footprint for its IP conferencing platforms, while ConferencePlus focused on operator services and high-end events, mostly in the United States and Canada. Arkadin further tackled cloud-based and video systems while ConferencePlus honed its managed services offering. Putting all of those capabilities into one portfolio gives partners a range of products to sell. “We get one plus one equals two-and-a-half,” said Alexander.

Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in the recent introduction of Arkadin’s Cloud Collaboration Platform, which will serve as the foundation of the company’s long-term unified communications products. Launched in several test markets last year, and sold through partners, the system is immediately available with Arkadin’s audio conferencing service. It also works with the provider’s Web and video technology. But what’s special about this particular cloud platform?

Alexander said it’s the single-number feature. No matter where they are located, users have just one set of access numbers. Meantime, the cloud service runs on a private, global IP network and integrates with customers’ VoIP or private corporate networks. And in an important shift, Arkadin designed the cloud collaboration product to pull from intelligence that sits in a database at a higher layer than the call bridge. That allows for dynamic routing, higher quality and faster setup times, Alexander said. Plus, said Alexander, the platform “is hitting some price points for channel partners that are unheard of in the industry.” He couldn’t go into detail but he did say Arkadin handles integration according to partners’ preference. For example, agents tend to look to the company to oversee all of the deployment; resellers often opt to handle most of the installation. “We’re happy to be as visible or behind-the-scenes” as partners like, Alexander said. 

Indeed, when it comes to the combined Arkadin-ConferencePlus channel program, Arkadin is pulling together the best parts of each operation. “We’re being very careful to make sure we don’t take a step back in any way,” Alexander said. “We will bend over backwards.” For example, Arkadin wants to incorporate the areas where ConferencePlus proved strongest experience with the partner world, along with in-depth tools and reporting mechanisms with its existing program. One piece Arkadin likely will discard is the ConferencePlus partner compensation framework. “Our commissions structures were more aggressive than ConferencePlus,” said Alexander. As a result, Arkadin intends to keep its rates intact; thus, former ConferencePlus partners will earn more money.

Arkadin will provide specifics about its integrated channel program, and related incentives and promotions, at the Spring 2012 Channel Partners Conference & Expo.


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