New Channel Veep’s ‘Qwest’ is a Converged Partner
By Tara Seals
Qwest Communications International Inc. has tapped a new vice president to head up the Qwest business partner program (QBPP). The new guy, Michael McDonnell, has some pretty big shoes to fill in predecessor Nik Nesbitt, who has been widely credited with returning Qwest’s commitment to the channel.
Nesbitt resigned to pursue other opportunities, leaving the carrier, hopefully, to pick up where he left off. To its credit, Qwest has chosen a seasoned channel expert with a vision of his own and a willingness to listen to the company’s partners.
“What I’m going to bring to [QBPP], in addition to experience having run virtually every type of distribution and sales channel, is knowledge of how to integrate [partners] and how they should function together,” says McDonnell.
“I’ve been in environments where the channel is a complete stranger to the corporation, and I have had to break down a lot of those walls. That’s already been done at Qwest, and we are moving towards an integrated distribution model that optimizes the capabilities of Qwest and of our partners.”
McDonnell most recently served as CEO of Plano, Texas-based IP AXESS Inc., which specializes in integrated IP remote access solutions. Before that, he was vice president and general manager of GTE Communica-tions Corp., and focused on delivering integrated communication services across GTE’s strategic business units and channels. He also served as a national director for NEC America Inc., where he structured a reseller program with data distributor Ingram Micro, and has worked in sales and marketing positions with Toshiba Corp. and Samsung Inc.
Acknowledging that QBPP consists of partners with different skill sets, McDonnell says Qwest will continue to provide the training and certification that will allow every QBPP member to broaden its scope of products and services.
“As much as the traditional agent is turning and embracing some of the data and IP products, we also have had people who came out of the more traditional data side that are embracing more the voice side,” he says. “It’s creating what really is a converged partner.”
To that end, one strategic initiative is to involve the channel program more deeply in Qwest’s IP service portfolio, deployed across 113,000 miles of global Internet backbone.
Another goal of his is to guarantee that channel feedback elicits appropriate response at Qwest. McDonnell says he sees the evolution in products and services to be evergreen, dictated by business conditions, technology, competition and channel communication.
“I’m going to look to our partners to tell us what we need to do and what we should do to adjust, because they are close to the customers and their feedback is critical,” says McDonnell. “And I’m going to make sure from a corporate perspective that we’re getting that feedback back to our product folks.”
Web-based tools such as Q.Marketplace and technical support initiatives for supply-chain communication will continue to be a priority, says McDonnell.
“There is a move to get to this matrix model where we can take and be able to push a lot of information and capabilities to not only our customers and our partners, but to our suppliers,” he explains.
Citing the industry-wide trend towards customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP)
software, he adds, “To be able to take that technology and create those links to make technology simpler and easier to work with, to create visibility from channel to corporation, that’s one of my longer-term goals.”