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Boston-based cloud-based UC provider Fuze on Tuesday expanded its channel program to allow “select partners” to resell its solution. Previously, partners were limited to referring customers. The company says it’s also piloting additional professional services and support programs.
Fuze set sales records in 2017, posting a 50 percent increase in subscription revenue year-over-year, and pulled in $134 million in new financing, bringing its total funding to more than $300 million. It also named a new CEO, Colin Doherty, and chief sales officer, Chris Doggett. Doggett previously served in sales and channel-facing roles at Carbonite, Sophos and Kaspersky.
“Unified communications and collaboration stands as the next hyper-growth market opportunity for the channel,” said Doggett in a statement.
Some competitors might argue that hypergrowth has already begun, and that the expanded channel opportunity reflects the competitiveness of the UCaaS space. While Fuze cites Synergy Research stating that it owns 47 percent of the enterprise UCaaS market, expansion into the much larger combined midmarket and SMB segments has one pathway: the channel.
Competitors such as 8×8, Star2Star and RingCentral have robust partner programs, and a panoply of providers including AT&T, Google, Masergy, Microsoft and West are vying for a piece of a lucrative UCaaS opportunity. A recent report by Frost and Sullivan says the North American hosted IP telephony and unified communications-as-a-service market will rack up double-digit growth through 2023 thanks to rising demand for more flexible technology consumption models and end-of-life of on-premises systems. The analysts also see feature parity in the conferencing and collaboration services market, meaning a focus on strengthening customer service and support will be key.
“In Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant for UCaaS, Fuze scored among the leaders on ‘Completeness of Vision’ but fell below the center line on ‘Ability to Execute,'” says industry analyst and Channel Partners contributor Michael Finneran. “To fuel their international aspirations, it looks like they’re stepping up to the plate with regard to bolstering their channel program, so the key now will be execution.”
Doggett says the expanded program will enable VARs, solution providers and IT/communications solution consultants to offer Fuze’s product lineup. As part of the expanded program, partners will be fully supported by Fuze at all stages of the sales process and will receive recurring commissions or discounts on customer activation, depending on the engagement model. Program terms allow partners to choose their own levels of involvement across the sales process, from full collaboration from customer acquisition to deployment or simply an initial recommendation.
Fuze will also provide partners with sales and technical support, with benefits increasing in a tiered model; sales certifications available through online training; proposal-based MDFs; sales incentives and back-end rebates; and sales tools, including Not for Resale instances and a network diagnostic utility. A new partner portal will offer a deal-registration process and a marketing content library.