The ‘R’ word has been the top water cooler topic in many offices. For channel partners, the question has been whether a slowing economy also will slow their income. A number of agents recently told PHONE+ they’re having to revamp their business models to some extent, but overall, they’re still making money. Sales just aren’t as easy as they once were and take longer to nail down.
Yankee Group Research Inc. analyst Zeus Kerravala will reveal his thoughts on whether the economic glass is half empty or half full for channel partners during the “Lowdown on the Downturn” session on Monday. Kerravala manages Yankee Group’s infrastructure research and consulting. This position, working in the trenches with customers and their business issues, gives him unique insight into what end users are thinking about their telecommunications needs in a downturn, and what they require from solutions providers. He’ll share what customers tell him they want from their telecom partners, information that will help agents and resellers formulate strategies to pull them through an era of curtailed spending.
To be sure, a number of agents see a downturn as an opportunity to make more money than usual. Bill Power, CEO of the Agent Alliance, told PHONE+ earlier this year that while customers are watching their pennies, they also view agents as outsourcing resources. Opportunities expand as companies cut staff, yet need more and more bandwidth, says Power.
Dan Bommer, president of partnerTEL, agrees. He told PHONE+ he actually expects to hire more people because clients are requesting expense management, inventory auditing and help with wireless contracts.
Bommer and Power seem to reflect their peers’ opinions. The recent PHONE+ Channel Compensation Survey found that channel partners are staying positive even as the economy worsens. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they were on target with or ahead of revenue expectations for 2008. Furthermore, 43 percent of respondents project up to 25 percent revenue growth from 2007 to 2008, while an additional 41 percent expect between 25 percent and 50 percent growth from the one year to the next.
Indeed, some analysts have predicted businesses will spend more on communications services that eliminate the need for travel and reduce typical expenses. Examples include using VoIP and Internet video.
“Every economic scenario involves threats as well as opportunities,” said Pete Dailey, senior research analyst of Frost & Sullivan’s Stratecast. “Some industry participants will stick their heads in the sand and pretend that the economy will be static and possibly miss opportunities. A proper scenario-based strategy process involves constant calibration.”