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ECA Promotes Convergence-Capable Channels

Posted: 12/2003

ECA Promotes Convergence-Capable Channels



By Tara Seals

Convergence now has an official
champion. A host of industry players have come together to form the Enterprise
Communications Association. The ECA is devoted to developing markets for blended
voice and data networks and the applications surrounding them and the sound
business, sales and service strategies necessary to make that happen in the
enterprise sector.

In keeping with the convergence theme, the groups mission
of education and thought leadership takes a holistic view and focuses on all
elements of the supply chain: end users, channel partners and manufacturers.
Among the founding members youll find value-added distributors, vendors,
network service providers and professional services firms.

This approach lays an integrated path to the customer in an
effort to make it easier for technology and innovative applications to be
brought to market. It involves credentialing, education, market analysis and
understanding, and then collaboration, explains Chris Younger, ECA Chairman
and president of channel partner Expanets Inc.

The premise is that collaboration between all players in the
converged marketplace is good for the customer and good for the supplier. If you think about the technology world of tomorrow,
particularly in the communications space, youll have fewer and fewer
vertically integrated solutions that you go to market with, says Younger. Trying
to isolate one segment of the value chain I think would do a disservice.

ECA, which counts Intel Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. among its
founding members (see list, below), has made it clear in its charter that it is
vendor-neutral. If youre familiar with the phrase, a rising tide lifts
all boats, thats it, says Younger. Everybody has an interest in helping this
market mature.

To that end, ECA member services include giving members access
to market intelligence and field experts; providing professional development for
personnel to sell and support integrated solutions; helping sales channel
companies profitably transform their voice/data businesses to pursue convergence
markets and better serve their customers; defining market opportunities in
public policy (accessibility, affordability, homeland security) and providing
emerging companies with access to mentors, alliances and sources of capital.

The reason for the organization is, as the market evolves
and changes, there needs to be an industry organization devoted to making sure
that we have the right skill sets and training out there in the field, that we
have knowledge about certain vertical markets, understanding of what drives
sales in this particular segment of the market and an understanding of the
technology and regulatory issues that would help or hinder the market progress,
explains Younger.

ECA will be involved in activities such as a teleforum series
for channel partners, on topics such as the engineering skill sets required to
be successful. Another initiative is venture capital outreach.

Well gather for example at VC forums, where well
gather up venture capitalists that have an interest in the communications space
and companies that have developed unique applications, so that we can help
educate the venture capital community as well as new developers of applications
as to whats happening in the marketplace, says Younger, to bring
capital together with those ideas so we can further develop the market.

The ECA also will develop training materials for the channel
on sales, implementation and service. The ECA says this type of education is
crucial for success.

From a channel perspective they want to know, how do I as a
channel company better participate in this market, how do I get the right skill
sets and avoid considerable traps that come from trying to implement new
technologies, do I have to change my sales model or operations model at all, do
I need different people, can I retrain the existing force that I have?
explains Younger. We need to address these things.

ECA Charter Members

(As of Oct. 2, 2003)
Individuals:
Chris Younger, President, Expanets Inc.
Stanley Blau, Managing Director, PS Capital

Organizations:
Avanti
Channel Management Partners
Cisco Systems Inc.
First Telecommunications Corp.
IBM
Ingram Micro Corp.
Intel Corp.
Iwatsu America Inc.
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
MAX Consulting Group Inc.
Mitel Networks
Monrovia Group
Netline Services Inc.
Point Market Development Group
PreSyst Inc.
Resources for Success
RMA
Shen, Milsom & Wilke Inc.
Siemens Information and Communication Networks Inc.
Technology Marketing Partners
Thomas & Company
Point Group
United Telecom
Council
Visual Systems Group
Wisconsin Wireless Communications Corp.
Wood Walters LLC

Links
Cisco Systems Inc. www.cisco.com
Enterprise Communications Association www.encomm.org
Expanets Inc. www.expanets.com
Intel Corp. www.intel.com


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