This week Channel Partners joined Broadview Networks COO Brian Crotty, along with VP of channels Donna Wenk and other executives and partners, at the Boston stop of a multi-city tour marking the company’s 20th anniversary. The 100-percent cloud-based UCaaS provider has reason to take a lap: It has seen good uptake of its new MyOfficeSuite Agent portal (announced at Channel Partners), posted 29 percent CAGR for UCaaS and 131 percent growth of OfficeSuite between 2013 and 2015, and expects to be selling 10,000 new stations per month by year’s end. Churn for OfficeSuite is less than 1 percent.
Crotty opened by educating Broadview partners on selling UCaaS in a consultative manner versus just sending along three proposals on a sheet of paper. A typical “quote shop” can expect a 5-7 percent close rate, he said, versus a 60-80 percent close rate for a consultative demo.
“If you’re doing UC right, you change how people do business,” said Crotty. “Change how they do business and they’ll never leave you.”
His advice: Think about what keeps customer executives awake, from demands to increase revenue and cut costs to the risk of downtime from outages. Then explain how UCaaS can address those concerns. A key selling point, says Crotty, is that since Broadview’s system is not based on SIP, phones can be dumb terminals. That minimizes downtime and increases security since traffic is encrypted between the phone and the Broadview cloud.
Wenk made some announcements that were well received by the agents in attendance: The number of channel managers has doubled, from eight to 16. Broadview will support Polycom phones as of July 1 (partners can quote now), and the company is offering for a limited time a 300 percent upfront SPIFF and free older-model phones, bringing a base plan down to $23 versus $30. It’s added Skype for Business and Lync integration and a Mexico/Central America calling plan, support for QoS over a customer’s private network, and a new OfficeSuite API.
Ingram Micro announced this week that U.S. partners can now offer Microsoft Azure through the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program on a consumption-based model. In a statement, Ingram said the “fully automated process empowers channel partners to seamlessly purchase, provision, bill in a pay-as-you-go plan, and manage Azure while benefitting from topline revenue, ownership of the customer relationship, and quicker business transformation.”
In other news, Web security vendor SiteLock announced an agreement with Ingram to offer the SiteLock Find, Fix, Prevent and 911 solution sets to channel partners via the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace in the United States.
“With cybersecurity now a growing issue for anyone with an online presence, the increased user demand for cloud-based website security offers a significant revenue opportunity for channel partners,” said Tarik Faouzi, vice president, global cloud partners and solutions, Ingram Micro, in a statement.
A new study from Juniper Research says retailers’ spending on digital marketing will more than double by 2020, from $174 billion in 2015 to $362.1 billion. While the bulk will be in advertising, coupon use will see strong growth, driven in part by the rise of Bluetooth beacons that spot smart devices and push content and information. It used to seem creepy, but then some good examples emerged. Now it seems like the future.
Juniper says leading U.S. retailers have deployed beacon networks, with Macy’s having installed more than 4,000, and that almost 1.6 billion coupons will be delivered annually to consumers via beacon technology by 2020 — up from just 11 million this year. Juniper also sees significant potential for proximity advertising in transit systems, airports (TSA lines?), college campuses, movie theaters, bars, taxis — anywhere with high traffic.
Solutions providers have an opportunity to help retail clients develop marketing campaigns and connect with consumers in their natural habitats. At the very least, someone needs to install the beacons. There are a number of established platforms, including Freckle IoT, Google Beacons and Gimbal.
Barracuda announced this week that it’s appointed Hatem Naguib as senior vice president and general manager, security business, and Ezra Hookano as vice president of channels. Naguib was formerly with VMware, where he worked on NSX, while Hookano returns to Barracuda from Fusion-io; he was the company’s original vice president of sales, growing Barracuda from inception to $100 million.
“From the time Barracuda first set out to solve email security challenges over a decade ago, channel partners have been integral to the company’s success,” said Hookano in a statement. “Coming back to Barracuda and to work with the channel community that I helped develop is truly special. We’re in a new era of challenges, where customers are looking to solution providers to not only protect their organizations but also to further empower them with cloud and virtualization technologies that make business better. I look forward to helping our channel partners solve these challenges while growing their businesses with Barracuda solutions.”
I spoke this week with Idan Udi Edry, CEO of Nation-E. The Israeli startup is focused on bridging the gap between isolated, but often critical, operational technology (OT) systems and IP networks. Edry says advanced attackers target industrial IoT and operational technology (OT) as an entry point to networks because few customer security teams have the specialized skills needed to protect OT, such as building and energy management, smart grid and SCADA systems. Nation-E also focuses on serial communication peripherals, like old printers, industrial devices and PoS terminals.
Nation-E – so named because it was originally aimed at the energy grid – recently opened two new offices in the United States, in Silicon Valley and New York, and currently partners with IBM and Check Point. It’s in the process of building a channel program. Partners with energy or industrial customers wrestling with OT systems may want to drop Edry a line. Nation-E offers consulting services as well as software products.
Here’s one I missed last week: Google rolled out smart messaging and video-chat platforms, called Allo and Duo. Allo is a mobile-only messaging app that includes the Google assistant bot and Chrome’s Incognito mode. Chats in Incognito mode will have end-to-end encryption. Duo is a one-to-one video calling app, also encrypted, and able to move calls between cellular and Wi-Fi. Both will be available “this summer” for both Android and iOS. Given the lack of conferencing or desktop integration, there’s little immediate threat to Microsoft, much less full-featured UC suites. Still …
Talk more, defect better: Intel Security released this week a new report, Collaboration: The New Secret Weapon Against Advanced Threats, that investigates the importance of security responders communicating. The report finds that of respondents, 22 percent believe that improved integration with third-party security services is the most imperative process shift required to increase preparedness against advanced threats.
Apropos for a long weekend: Finally, congratulations to Evolve IP for being named to Inc.’s inaugural list of 50 Best Workplaces, recognizing U.S. companies with up to 500 employees that deploy state-of-the-art techniques to keep their staff happy and productive. Inc. looked at “company practices around management, employee recognition, performance communication, benefits and other elements of the employee experience.”
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