Partnerships between telecom agents and information technology (IT) solution providers continue to grow in both numbers and strategic importance, according to a new study from Channel Partners and CompTIA.
The convergence of IT and telecom technologies – accelerated by cloud computing – and customers' desire for a single source for all of their communications and technology needs are among the notable factors bringing agents and solution providers closer together.
This marks the third consecutive year that Channel Partners and CompTIA have collaborated on the study, Partnering Trends between Telecom and IT Channels.
This year's study finds that telecom-IT relationships are maturing, moving beyond opportunistic handshake deals to a more formalized, accountable approach. IT firms said joint marketing more than doubled year over year, from 4 percent to 10 percent. Telecom agents reported a nearly double increase in joint selling – from 10 percent to 18 percent.
"Firms have figured out that for these pairings to succeed long-term, the rules of engagement and responsibilities must elevate beyond a handshake agreement," said Carolyn April, director, industry analysis, CompTIA. "Setting sales strategy together, determining revenue goals and targets and establishing account ownership are all critical factors that contribute to success."
A majority of IT firms – two in five – reported that half to three-quarters of their annual revenue comes from partnerships with telecom agents. A similar percentage of telecom agents (42 percent) said one-quarter to one-half of their annual revenue came from partnerships.
Most telecom agents (66 percent) and IT companies (61 percent) said that new partnerships have arisen from emerging technologies, such as cloud computing. They've also resulted in winning more deals and realizing more revenue.
"An IT solution provider may consider cloud-based alternatives to their core offerings so as not to lose a sale," explained Khali Henderson, editor in chief, Channel Partners. "They may work in tandem with a telecom agent partner to deliver cloud services through a third-party provider; or they may be the managed services or cloud provider that the agent recommends."
Another dynamic at work is competition from telecom carriers, who may be in a position to deliver these solutions effectively and directly to customers. Henderson noted that one way that telecom agents and their IT partners can avoid losing business to a carrier is to join forces to offer more well-rounded solutions to customers, encompassing a variety of technologies and delivery types.
The Partnering Trends between Telecom and IT Channels study is the result of separate online surveys to 100 IT solution providers and 100 telecom agents. The complete report is available here.
Channel Partners magazine is the leading publication for telecom and IT distribution channels.