AT&T’s Randall Porter: Channel Realignment ‘Came at the Exact Right Time’

James Anderson

James Anderson

AT&T Partner Exchange is pressing on into 2018 after a successful leadership transition and realignment.

Randall Porter, the recently appointed vice president of the program, told us that Partner Exchange has invested heavily in creating a large portfolio of products and services for its partners. The program now aims to back up those offerings with enablement. Port also encourages partners to look into fiber and IoT, AT&T technologies that are now moving “down-market.”

AT&T's Randall PorterThe program celebrated its five-year anniversary two weeks ago. We spoke to Porter about how the program has changed and his experience taking the baton of leadership from Brooks McCorcle.

We have edited the interview transcript for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: As someone who has been part of this program since the beginning, how do things feel the same, and how do they feel different?

Randall Porter: Three things. When we launched back in the day, Emerging Business Markets was the name of the organization, and the first big initiative that we wanted to launch was AT&T Partner Exchange. That was focused on the midmarket. What we had heard was players and businesses in that market didn’t necessarily always want to do business with directly with AT&T, and that’s not because they didn’t like AT&T. But they were looking for differentiated solutions where a trusted adviser could help them with not only their networking, but actual business solutions applications as well. So that was the whole extent of where we started with the program, and we also looked at multiple other emerging business markets as well.

What’s kind of changed since then is focus. [With] the AT&T partner exchange now being integrated with AT&T Partner Solutions, there’s no doubt about we’re about — and it’s all about enablement in the indirect market. And for us, that really means serving up our best-in-class networking, whether that be on the IP networking side or on the mobile side, but enabling solution providers to utilize our best-in-class networking to then offer differentiated value solutions to that midmarket segment of the business.

Focus is No. 1. No. 2 is around automation. We made a pivot early on to say we were truly going to automate and make an efficient channel. That meant a heavy investment in APIs, for quoting, understanding what’s going on in provisioning (service assurance, etc.) and then now ordering as well, with our recent launch of the API ordering on the broadband side too.

Finally, what we also realized, probably a year in, was that enablement was going to have to extend not only from our solution set but to the actual experience as well. Because of the nature of these solution providers, each one is created differently. Each one [has a] certain set of expertise … but in some cases they also need help, whether that be with billing, whether it be with clock management. We created our investment development program, where we would co-fund development in these solution providers to allow them to …

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