By Curt Allen
Most of us agree that we have entered a transformative time in our industry. After a long run of either leading with network services or adding those to our core CPE product sets, channel partners have derived a nice recurring revenue stream. Much of this revenue comes from a group of carriers that have embraced the indirect channel in the true spirit of partnership.
Recently the customer demand has shifted to applications (cloud and otherwise) first, relegating network services to a “work back" product offering. For those of us who make the majority of, or at least a significant portion of our revenues from network, this an important change in dynamic.
What do we do? Is this change in customer demand enough to force many of us to re-tool our businesses to focus on cloud applications? Do we stay the course on network as our priority and avoid the “shiny objects"?
I would argue that an either/or decision is not required and that many of the “shiny objects" reside, or will soon, in the toolbox we have been carrying for years. In my 20 or so years in this space, 15 in the channel, there have been several of these transformative periods. In each of these cases the carriers have either gauged customer demand correctly, evolving to meet that demand, or did not. Those that did are still around and successful, those that did not have been acquired or failed.
In my position as a board member at TCA, and in co-chairing the vendor relations committee, as well as in my day job at X4 Solutions, I work closely with many of the carriers in our space. I also sit on several carrier advisory boards. In my humble opinion, I think many of the answers to how to service the changing landscape lie with these existing partners. I am very confident in the emerging product suites and cloud portfolios of many of the traditional network providers. I also firmly believe that selling new services through an existing relationship with a trusted provider is the most efficient initial approach.
Certainly partnership and loyalty to the carriers that pay our bills does, and should play a role in our decisions as channel partners, but I also believe pragmatism and expediency lead us to the same conclusion. Before we start running to new entries to the market to provide new applications and services (“shiny objects") to our customers, shouldn’t we make sure we understand the offerings of our existing partners?
Maybe many of the “shiny objects" are already in the toolbox …
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