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NEC, Intermedia Team on Cloud UCaaS, Partner Blasts Avaya-RingCentral

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Cloud Agreement

Looking to reclaim lost share of the PBX market, NEC’s new cloud-based UCaaS offering is now available in the U.S.

NEC faced a competitive disadvantage to rivals Avaya and Cisco because it lacked modern cloud PBX and contact center products and services.

It couldn’t expeditiously develop its own cloud UCaaS offering, so NEC considered various licensing options, ultimately partnering with Intermedia.

Intermedia and NEC Corp., based in Tokyo, inked the global partnership in late April. Intermedia’s largest UCaaS footprint is in the U.S. Consequently, NEC Corp. of America (NECAM) was able to begin rollout of NEC’s UCaaS.

It includes the new NEC Univerge Blue Connect, built on Intermedia’s Unite Cloud PBX platform. It also includes NEC Univerge Blue Engage, built on Intermedia Contact Center.

NEC's Marc Hebner

NEC’s Marc Hebner

“We partnered with Intermedia because they are truly channel-focused,” Marc Hebner, VP of NECAM’s enterprise channel, told Channel Partners.

“Intermedia’s whole model is to sell their product through a channel,” Hebner added. “And that, aligned with our vision and what we’ve built here over the past 50 years in the United States. We are 100% dedicated and focused on selling our products through our channel.”

We recently compiled a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.

Michael Gold, Intermedia’s CEO, said partners account for 80% of an estimated $250 million in sales. The company gives partners the choice of using the Intermedia brand or a white-label option using their own branding.

Most opt for the latter, Gold told Channel Partners.

Intermedia's Michael Gold

Intermedia’s Michael Gold

“NEC, a great global brand with global reach, wanted to have their brand,” Gold said. “There’s a whole platform behind it that allows NEC and NEC’s partners to run the business as if it’s their own.”

This partnership is more extensive than most for Intermedia. For example, Gold said Intermedia is integrating NEC’s legacy on-premises PBX systems with its network. That will allow NEC’s new UCaaS offering to include hybrid solutions.

Flexible Partner Options

Last year, Intermedia expanded its go-to-market options with the addition of new white-label models.

Hebner said flexible partner options were a key factor in why his company chose to partner with Intermedia.

Partners can opt to offer NEC’s new UCaaS offering through a revenue share model, said Hebner. They can also choose customer ownership or the traditional agent option, Hebner said.

“We’re giving our channel huge flexibility on how they want to go to market with this product,” he said. “If they want to take all the top line revenue, they can. If they want to control the margins that they make and add additional services, they can. But maybe they want NEC to be the face of this. If they want NEC to manage the invoicing and have it be NEC-branded and for us to do tier one, tier two and tier three support, they could do that too, under the traditional agent model.”

Given the variation in the types of partners in NEC’s ecosystem, that choice of model is key, said Paul Diesu, CEO of Forerunner Technologies.

As one of NEC’s largest national system integrators, Diesu said NEC’s new cloud UCaaS offering is long overdue.

“My biggest complaint as their largest distributor was that their cloud story was not very good,” Diesu said. “They relied upon small third-party vendors that couldn’t deliver, especially in the enterprise space.”

Given the growth of UCaaS options, that has made it difficult to …

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