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NEC-Intermedia Partnership: Execs Explain Their Cloud PBX Team-Up

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… our own UCaaS platform over the years. We had a solid platform. But the challenge that we had was in the enablement, from a sales standpoint, channel enablement, training and portals. We very much struggled with building out that back-end infrastructure that gave us the scalability that we needed to really go to market. So we’ve been fighting that fight for six or seven years now. We finally realized over the past year that we need to move quicker into the cloud. And we needed something that is truly built in the cloud. We couldn’t build this ourselves and get the scalability and the speed that we needed.

CP: Once you came to that conclusion, what did you do?

MH: We started vetting the who’s who in the UCaaS space and evaluated those who may be interested in partnering, Obviously, with 80 million customers, everybody wanted to throw their hat in the ring, and we were very excited about the NEC-Intermedia partnership opportunity. Frankly, we had some offers from a financial standpoint that were more aggressive than what Intermedia was bringing to the table.

CP: So why didn’t you go with one of those?

MH: We partnered with Intermedia because they are truly channel-focused; their whole model is to sell their product through a channel. And that aligned with our vision and how we’ve been built here the past 50 years here in the United States, being 100% dedicated and focused on selling our products through our channel.

CP: Many of Intermedia’s competitors sell through the channel as well. What was different?

MH: We didn’t want to go to market with just an agency model. That takes some of the control over the margins the channel can make. And essentially, our channel would look at that as giving up their customer. The concerns that we heard from our channel partners were that they didn’t want an arrangement like RingCentral, where they pay a SPIF, and then the customer is with RingCentral. Our partners want to own that relationship. They’re managed service providers and they want this to be another service offering that they have. So we’re going to market it with three different models that our channel can take. One of them is a revenue share model; one of them as a customer ownership model. And then one of them is one of the more traditional models that you see in this space — the agency model.

CP: Why did you want to offer three models?

MH: We’re giving our channel huge flexibility on how they want to go to market with this product. 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 don’t want to do those things. And maybe they want NEC to be the face of this and they want NEC to manage the invoicing and have it be NEC-branded and do tier one, tier two and tier three support. They could do that too, under the traditional agency model. Ultimately, that’s why we selected Intermedia — they gave us that flexibility.

CP: As part of this NEC-Intermedia partnership, will the Intermedia brand appear with the NEC offering?

MG: No, I mean, NEC has such a strong brand. Intermedia has a good brand in the partner community but is less known at the business level.

CP: Will Intermedia provide the back-end support for NEC partners and customers?

MG: We pride ourselves on the quality of our support; in fact, that was another reason why NEC selected us. Particularly as a Japanese company, quality is king for NEC. We’ve won the JD Power award four years in a row for the for the quality of our product support. The other thing is that our product suite is so complete. Look at RingCentral, which is considered the market leader. Until a few months ago, they were using Zoom as their video conferencing technology, and they still use …

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