Arrow Electronics Inc. has become the latest distributor to add network services to its portfolio so its solution providers may sell IaaS, SaaS and other cloud platforms complete with voice, data, network and Internet connectivity.
But the company did not team with just one telecom and one cable provider, as some of its competitors have done. Rather, it chose to pair up with master agency ADVODA so VARs and MSPs have access to more than 50 carriers and operators. Solution providers in the United States and Canada access the lineup through the ArrowSphere cloud marketplace and recommend the best fit to their clients.
Available products and services include WAN, MPLS, dedicated high-speed Internet (via fiber, EoC or coax), cloud access/direct connect, VoIP, SIP trunking and hosted IP PBX. Brands include CenturyLink, Comcast Business, and Verizon.
Of course, Arrow’s channel partners don’t have to decide on their own which supplier is the best fit. Arrow is providing high-level overviews, such as how to identify an opportunity and how to engage, but ADVODA will oversee much of the work.
“We’re not putting a significant burden on the resellers to know how to do this,” said Hilary Fox, president and COO of ADVODA. “We make sure we really understand their model so we can bring the right suppliers to the table out of the gate and not give them too many options.”
To that point, ADVODA is offering pre- and post-sales, as well as technical sales architects, project and lifecycle management, and full network sales process outsourcing.
And the timing of the partnership is critical as IT partners understand that they no longer can specialize just in hardware.
“I think there’s no secret that IT and telco are converging at a relatively rapid rate,” Fox said.
The problem is, “some VARs are still telling customers to call the phone company and end up marginalizing, cannibalizing their own opportunities,” she added.
That’s because even the incumbents now sell cloud, professional and managed services, and solution providers risk losing their customers altogether when they don’t offer connectivity.
The good news is that about half of Arrow’s channel partners are talking about network services and bandwidth with their clients. And it’s not so much a matter of adding recurring revenue to their business models as one of amping up the value discussion with their customers.
“Monthly recurring revenue is one thing, but being able to position a solution, a technology that produces a business outcome, is a whole different conversation,” said Dee Dee Lear, vice president of cloud and business development for Arrow. As such, “I think [partners] will be very excited about the [ADVODA] opportunity.”
Arrow spent a number of months researching and interviewing master agents, and cable and telecom providers, said Lear. After all that time. ADVODA stood out as the firm that matched Arrow’s focus on strong operations and execution, and high quality, Lear said.
In terms of how solution providers will work with ADVODA, here’s how to go about it: The solution provider can either reach out to his/her Arrow rep on the cloud team, or get in touch with ADVODA through the ArrowSphere platform. If the channel partner chooses the latter approach, Arrow will do a “warm transfer call” between the partner and ADVODA, and let ADVODA take over from there, Lear said. ArrowSphere also accommodates phone, email and IM links with ADVODA, giving solution partners multiple ways to interact with the master agency.
Next, while ADVODA has automated provisioning and account management, its quoting process remains manual. That’s due in part to the reality that many instant quoting platforms do not stay updated, rendering a proposal inaccurate and reinforcing the practice of selling on price, said Fox. The other reason is that ADVODA focuses on higher-end, enterprise customers. As a result, the master agency continues to have its people manage quoting, an approach that appealed to Arrow.
“Our partner base is accustomed to solution design as opposed to instant gratification and high-volume, commoditized sales,” Lear said.
Fox is not worried about the influx of potentially thousands of quote requests. ADVODA has developed new KPIs in advance of the Arrow announcement and has the ability to scale as needed.
“I have a high level of confidence that we will be able to handle the volume,” she said. “Our team is incredibly excited about this opportunity.”
The Arrow-ADVODA deal is not the first such partnership in the industry; Tech Data and MicroCorp formed a similar union in late 2012.