TelePacific Communications, which late last summer closed on its acquisition of DSCI, plans to rebrand to better reflect its evolution from a regional CLEC to a managed services company with a nationwide audience.
DSCI’s UCx unified communications offering and ITx managed IT services are expected to drive faster sales for the managed services that comprise more than half of TelePacific’s business. When joined with TelePacific’s SD-WAN technology that can deliver those services anywhere that there’s a broadband connection, this combination “sets the bar for success in the integrated MSP space,” TelePacific said.
TelePacific previously was a regional player focused on California, Nevada and Texas, while DSCI operated in New York and New England. DSCI, for now, continues to operate under its own name as a TelePacific company and will remain under the leadership of its senior management team.
TelePacific delivers managed services and business communications to 75,000 locations nationally for customers ranging from small businesses to enterprises with hundreds of sites.
In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Ken Bisnoff, TelePacific’s senior vice president of strategic opportunities, talks about how his company has outgrown its current brand, and how it plans to make the most of being a national competitor in managed services.
Channel Partners: What’s the status of integrating TelePacific and DSCI? Are there challenges to bringing together the two companies?
Ken Bisnoff: From a network standpoint, from an operational standpoint, architecture standpoint, we were geared up for day one (after closing). We integrated the network and the product set, so therefore on day one the businesses were selling the UC platform, which DSCI had branded UCx, which was a big get for TelePacific. Also, they had a managed-services company and they ran a managed services line of business under our products we call ITx, and we’ve integrated those businesses and those product suites. We’ve trained the entire TelePacific family on their product sets. So that integration has occurred. We’ve integrated the businesses from financial, legal and HR — the behind-the-scenes pieces.
We are planning to rebrand both companies by the end of [the first quarter to] speak to who we are today, not who we both used to be when we were separate companies. We have a lot of our agents who are very passionate about our brand; they’re passionate because of what it stands for from a service, support, quality and channel-strength standpoint because we’ve been a longstanding member of the channel community with that brand. People know us well (and) are very nervous about it. But we kind of always knew that there was a shelf life on two aspects of that. One is the Tele part, which really doesn’t speak to where our world is today — it kind of speaks to the days gone past where telephone was a central part of what was the telecom world. But today it’s more …
… managed IT and other managed services. And also the Pacific obviously doesn’t play ideally on the Eastern Seaboard.
Because our goal is to do no harm, we’ve maintained DSCI’s entire management infrastructure. Their CEO is in place and he’s running Northeast operations, their senior vice president of sales is running their sales in their region. There are aspects of the business in the interior where we have combined the entity, but from what the agents would see in the Northeast, it’s business as usual. They have the same leaders of their channel, the same channel management in place, same support people and the same operations people. And behind the scenes we’re certainly maximizing best practices across all our regions and our growth that has now gone outside of our regions with SD-WAN technology.
CP: Are TelePacific and DSCI’s partner programs going to be consolidated, or will they remain separate? If they are being consolidated, what’s the timeline?
KB: The interesting piece is that because DSCI was Northeast-centric and we were California, Nevada and Texas-centric, we didn’t have a tremendous overlap, and DSCI hadn’t really secured many master agents the way we had over the years, so we didn’t have overlap with that. So instead, what happened day one is that opened the floodgates for the national masters that we do business with – Sandler Partners, Intelisys, WTG, Telarus, TBI, etc. – to now do business under the TelePacific umbrella in the Northeast through DSCI. So from a standpoint of integration, we still have different billing engines, and how we handle payments will be consolidated. But from a contractual standpoint, it’s still supported under the DSCI agreement they signed. We may combine that over the next couple of years – that’s usually what we do over time – but our programs are both very channel-friendly. The channel was about 50 percent of DSCI’s revenue and about 45 percent of our revenue, so from that standpoint, we’re really just maintaining that same channel-friendly environment with both companies. And they’re leveraging the best practices that they get out of a bigger-scale company.
CP: Previously you spoke of TelePacific partners expressing regret about not being able to work with clients outside of California, Nevada and Texas. Has that already changed?
KB: The geographic expansion was one of the big gets for DSCI and TelePacific. But alongside of this acquisition, we put SD-WAN infrastructure within our network, which now gives us nationwide reach for the DSCI family of products, the UC product, the managed services-managed IT offering, ITx, along with the expansion we naturally have with our WAN offering, which is our OneNet MPLS offering, that allows us to provide services to customers with class of service anywhere in the market.
Our partners who focus with us with our channel managers in California, Nevada and Texas right out of the gate got a channel-management team based in the Northeast, and then [with] the combination of the group, we’re able to cover any place in the country, along with our quoting engine, our services/support channel team that we have to help them move fast to provide their subagents or their customers with what they need for our quote from TelePacific.
CP: Has the ability to expand your capabilities and reach a nationwide audience changed your channel strategy? If so, how?
KB: It has changed our channel strategy. As a matter of fact, we recently announced .an internal change, and added additional management staff and another director to the TelePacific channel, someone promoted from within. What that did is freed up Hilary Gadda, who has been with TelePacific for over 15 years as our director in the channel … to focus on business-development activities outside of our markets. Hilary is also the president of Women in the Channel, she has tremendous relationships and we have great relationships with partners who do business with us, but have done business with us in our markets.
People are now looking at TelePacific beyond the regional nature of who we used to be, and the same for DSCI, and see us now as a combined geographic business.
And in the future, any expansion that we do will …
… be with the channel outside of markets, and that’s from a support team basis – channel management, solution architects – in regions to partner and run faster with our master agents or agents in the marketplace. That’s what DSCI did when they launched New York. They did it 100 percent agent. That was before we bought them and that’s a model that we liked and we’re going to be employing in a similar fashion with the combined company.
CP: Has your competition changed through gaining a national audience?
KB: Very much so. It’s changed for two reasons. One is back in the day when we were a CLEC, we competed against regional CLECs and there are no more regional CLECs or very few of them, and we’re not a regional CLEC anymore. We refer to ourselves as a managed services carrier, which is a managed services provider — but we like to say carrier because that speaks to our DNA from a services, support and infrastructure standpoint. So being a managed-services carrier, we’re competing against the UC companies, managed IT companies, as well as the classic carriers for complex, solution-oriented WAN architectures (and) data-center solutions.
So I view our competition today as a lot of these silo companies who are the UC-centric providers because that’s our largest area of growth, coming from managed services, which principally is UC and the managed IT.
CP: What’s ahead for your company in the coming year?
KB: We’re going to look to grow outside of our geography and even within our geography because we hadn’t really been considered a competitive player in the UC and managed IT space in the past. Another example of that is we became a Tier 1 CSP with Microsoft and we launched a Microsoft Office offering underneath our ITx managed-service umbrella. So we provide licenses and we provide transition as well as ongoing service for our customers.
All of these pieces came together, so we’re really looking to execute on it and bring that out, and bring those solutions to the customers in the marketplace. Our goal is to really continue to execute on our plan to grow and become one of the dominant managed services, probably the largest managed services carrier in the country.
CP: What do you think your channel strategy will look like in three to five years?
KB: This is our 19th year in business and we’ve been channel-centric from the beginning. And there have always been three words that we use when it comes to the channel: simplicity, support and success. Simplicity is you’ve got to make yourself easy to do business with. Support, you’ve got to have an infrastructure to help them in all phases of the sales processes, and success means you have to help them be successful out in the marketplace by having the right products, the right price and executing on the customer life-cycle experience so that we keep and retain customers, we grow customers, and we’re able to go out and get new customers. So that’s always at the core of what we’re doing.
The product set may evolve and change — I think it will stay under the basic umbrellas that we have of connectivity, cloud and continuity services, and in the cloud you have UC and managed IT services as predominant areas. So I think we have the foundation in place to grow and to be where the market needs to be today – that’s first and foremost – and the acquisition of DSCI put us in that position with the combination of the two companies.
Now what we need to do is stay with that market evolution and be a solution provider. We went away from being a transactional company. We didn’t want to be the pipe. And the acquisition with DSCI and other moves we’ve made in the business along with SD-WAN have enabled us to be the solution company for customers and therefore, for our partners.
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