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PAETEC Kicks Off Mobility Play With Visual Messaging

By Kelly Teal
June 24, 2011 - News

PAETEC is keen to talk up its unfolding mobility strategy, which, counter to a previous report, does include agents from the get-go.

In fact, partners who complete PAETEC’s Mobility Certification can earn a $1,000 bonus when they submit their first order for Visual Messaging; there’s also a 150-percent SPIFF on the monthly recurring commissions for selling PAETEC’s messaging services. The incentives will run through the end of the year and may be extended after that.

PAETEC jumped into mobility last February when it bought Iperia, creator of the Visual Messaging platform. Visual Messaging puts voice mail from several devices onto one phone or tablet, and transcribes voice messages into text. But Visual Messaging is just the jumping-off point for PAETEC’s mobility goals.

“Now we have a platform and resources to really start developing mobility applications," said John Chapman, PAETEC’s chief marketing officer and head of the Iperia division. “This is the beginning of offering our partners more solutions around [mobility]. … We know that’s where the marketplace is going."

To be sure, mobility seemed like the obvious next step for PAETEC. The company – comprised of several divisions, including a CLEC, software group and equipment unit – has been diversifying its business model in some unexpected ways (think cloud computing, VAR acquisitions, data center hosting). You almost wondered if an MVNO agreement or cell towers would come next.

Neither kind of play looks to be part of the plan, say people familiar with PAETEC’s strategy. However, Visual Messaging does mark the birth of PAETEC’s mobility services, Chapman said. Some products in the works include instant mobile conferencing, presence and unified communications. Expect those to launch over the next three quarters.

Visual Messaging sits on tops of existing voice-mail systems, such as those from Cisco, Avaya and Nortel. It also accommodates different operating systems, including BlackBerry, Android and Apple iOS. Ideal customers tend to be enterprises with 1,000 or more devices, Chapman said. Among verticals, law firms and healthcare facilities stand out as key targets because so many employees are on the go and juggling devices.

For agents, then, the best way to get familiar with Visual Messaging is to take the high-level certification course.

“It probably won’t take you more than one to three hours because it’s pretty straightforward," Chapman said. Channel managers also are available to answer questions and offer support. From there, even though PAETEC is offering some financial incentives, Visual Messaging sales will fall under current commissions structures and processes.

At the moment, PAETEC is still trying to ramp up agent awareness of Visual Messaging. Many channel partners have been so focused on selling much-hyped cloud services, for example, that it may take the company a while to draw attention to Visual Messaging, which acts more as a differentiator and value-add than an entire product. But Visual Messaging has its place, Chapman said, and it’s vital that partners understand the appeal. “This becomes important when you start rolling out a complete suite of services," he explained.

For example, Visual Messaging comes as a premise- or cloud-based service. When an agent sells the hosted version, he or she probably has sold other hosted applications such as video and presence. And from there, Visual Messaging also can be added to voice-services sales.

“People are trying to find a way to differentiate voice, whether it’s through hosted IP telephony or some of the other services," said Chris Muller, PAETEC’s communications director.

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