... be with the channel outside of markets, and that’s from a support team basis – channel management, solution architects – in regions to partner and run faster with our master agents or agents in the marketplace. That’s what DSCI did when they launched New York. They did it 100 percent agent. That was before we bought them and that’s a model that we liked and we’re going to be employing in a similar fashion with the combined company.
CP: Has your competition changed through gaining a national audience?
KB: Very much so. It’s changed for two reasons. One is back in the day when we were a CLEC, we competed against regional CLECs and there are no more regional CLECs or very few of them, and we’re not a regional CLEC anymore. We refer to ourselves as a managed services carrier, which is a managed services provider — but we like to say carrier because that speaks to our DNA from a services, support and infrastructure standpoint. So being a managed-services carrier, we’re competing against the UC companies, managed IT companies, as well as the classic carriers for complex, solution-oriented WAN architectures (and) data-center solutions.
So I view our competition today as a lot of these silo companies who are the UC-centric providers because that’s our largest area of growth, coming from managed services, which principally is UC and the managed IT.
CP: What’s ahead for your company in the coming year?
KB: We’re going to look to grow outside of our geography and even within our geography because we hadn’t really been considered a competitive player in the UC and managed IT space in the past. Another example of that is we became a Tier 1 CSP with Microsoft and we launched a Microsoft Office offering underneath our ITx managed-service umbrella. So we provide licenses and we provide transition as well as ongoing service for our customers.
All of these pieces came together, so we’re really looking to execute on it and bring that out, and bring those solutions to the customers in the marketplace. Our goal is to really continue to execute on our plan to grow and become one of the dominant managed services, probably the largest managed services carrier in the country.
CP: What do you think your channel strategy will look like in three to five years?
KB: This is our 19th year in business and we’ve been channel-centric from the beginning. And there have always been three words that we use when it comes to the channel: simplicity, support and success. Simplicity is you’ve got to make yourself easy to do business with. Support, you’ve got to have an infrastructure to help them in all phases of the sales processes, and success means you have to help them be successful out in the marketplace by having the right products, the right price and executing on the customer life-cycle experience so that we keep and retain customers, we grow customers, and we’re able to go out and get new customers. So that’s always at the core of what we’re doing.
The product set may evolve and change — I think it will stay under the basic umbrellas that we have of connectivity, cloud and continuity services, and in the cloud you have UC and managed IT services as predominant areas. So I think we have the foundation in place to grow and to be where the market needs to be today – that’s first and foremost – and the acquisition of DSCI put us in that position with the combination of the two companies.
Now what we need to do is stay with that market evolution and be a solution provider. We went away from being a transactional company. We didn’t want to be the pipe. And the acquisition with DSCI and other moves we’ve made in the business along with SD-WAN have enabled us to be the solution company for customers and therefore, for our partners.