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CenturyLink Touts New Alliance Programs, Level 3 Acquisition

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Craig Galbraith**Editor’s Note: Click here for our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.**

CENTURYLINK ASCEND — CenturyLink on Thursday formally announced to its channel community the expansion of its Alliance program, offering partners four ways to work with the telco giant.

Along with the traditional Channel Alliance, CenturyLink now offers Software Alliance, Systems Integrator Alliance and Strategic Partner Alliance programs.

  • The Channel Alliance continues to serve independent sales agents or brokers who recommend CenturyLink services and solutions to their customers. It offers new program tiers – Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond – that “offer a clear path to ascend to the next level.”
  • The Software Alliance is comprised of software companies that partner with CenturyLink to build, integrate, deploy, maintain and sell co-created solutions.
  • The Systems Integrator Alliance features partners who specialize in configuring and implementing services from CenturyLink and other vendors, with a goal of building complete solutions for customers.
  • The Strategic Partner Alliance includes technology vendor partners that provide next-generation communications solutions.

“Basically, we pushed the restart button,” Dean Douglas, president, enterprise segment, CenturyLink, told a crowd of roughly 1,000 partners. “I’ve seen an extraordinary amount of value in the [reseller] world. The challenge you face when you start talking about partnerships is that it can mean all kinds of things. What we’ve done is create four distinct routes to market that allow us to differentiate ourselves across [those markets]. It’s very difficult to talk about all of these types of partners as one.”{ad}

Bill Corbin, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and channel operations, shared a vision for the Alliances, which includes focus (“focusing on our partners and focusing on what we do well, because focus drives results”), transparency (“It’s extremely important that we’re transparent with our partners”) and velocity (“Velocity will drive momentum that will help all of us – most importantly get wallet share from our customers – and that’s what we all want”).

Ascend is a first-of-its-kind partner gathering for CenturyLink, which previously has hosted an annual event for its Channel Alliance. Bringing all of these groups together under one roof is a sign of the company’s ongoing transformation from a legacy telecom provider to a provider of IT, cloud, software and data-center services.

Much of the key channel leadership is new to the company within the past year, which acknowledges that some change in culture was necessary.

“We’re making a very different strategic focus on the partner and the channel,” said Douglas. “I got this job because I told the board I know how the channel works. … At the most senior levels of our company, we’re very focused on driving the channel that’s robust and substantive.”

All of this doesn’t mean …

{vpipagebreak}

… the more traditional partner is being left behind.

“We’ve created this environment of aspirational ascension,” noted John DeLozier, CenturyLink Channel Alliance VP, in an homage to the event’s theme. “I promise you we will never every quit on you. As long as I’m here, when failures happen, we will step up and step in with you. The thing I ask from you is this: Give us a shot. Come rock and roll with us. This isn’t just talk.”

Also on partners’ minds this week is CenturyLink’s pending acquisition of Level 3 Communications that is poised to close by the end of the third quarter. The agreement, once it passes regulatory muster, will effectively double the size of CenturyLink’s domestic business. The company will be 75 percent enterprise in terms of revenue post acquisition. CenturyLink has formed an integration-management team to coordinate and drive its implementation process plan once the transaction is complete.

“We could’ve done some other acquisitions and driven our business in different ways, but we made a strategic decision to focus on the network and capital-lite types of other investments,” said Douglas. “Our core is building upon that network. There’s no company better to join forces with than Level 3 [from a network standpoint].”

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.


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