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Imagining the Converged Channel Model

- Blog

By Lawrence M. Walsh, CEO and President, The 2112 Group

The Channel Partners Cloud Convergence Council is nearly finished with the first phase of its deliberations on how the IT and telephony channels can work together in fostering a better future in automated, Web-based services. One of the open issues on the agenda is the actual working framework for how these two channels will interact.

Council member Clark Atwood, vice president of communications and technology agent Concierge Communications and former VAR, devised a new diagram (see Figure 1) for expressing how these two largely segregated channels will approach the cloud. In his model, hardware and software vendors top the source change and treat IT distributors and service providers (carriers and outsourcing firms) as the distribution points. The model doesn’t have the two channels converging, but rather working in tandem on providing services and support to the mutual end customer.

Figure 1: Parallel Cloud Channels

Atwood’s model is one where the two channels remain largely separate. IT and telephony solution providers may never really converge in this model. The VAR model may expand to include some transport services and the telecom agents will continue to partner. This leaves room to a new channel to emerge that takes the best of both worlds and embraces aspects from both channels (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: A New Hybrid Channel EmergesThis is an important consideration, and an issue that came up during the Channel Partners Cloud Convergence Council’s deliberations. The telephony channel was built with agents selling voice and data transport contracts through their master agents. They’re very light; sales focused organizations, which lack technical resources for integrating products. This new hybrid channel will need to capitalize on both the speed of the telephony channel and the technical knowledge and resources of the VAR channel.

Is this the right representation of the next-generation channel? Will the IT and telephony channels remains distinctly separate? Or will the cloud create a complex spider web of channel interaction, collaboration and convergence?

Share your thoughts with the Channel Partners Cloud Convergence Council. Send your ideas to:

 Lawrence M. Walsh is CEO and president of The 2112 Group, a technology business advisory service that specializes in optimizing indirect channels and partner relationships, and principle blogger at Channelnomics. He’s also the executive director of the Channel Vanguard Council and moderator of the Channel Partners Cloud Convergence Council. He is the former publisher of Channel Insider and editor of VARBusiness Magazine. You can reach him at

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