On the first anniversary of the company’s entrance in to the Channel Comms Business Magazine talks to John Whitty, Managing Director of GCI, about the market and how GCI intends to help their channel partners build business.
CBM: What are the three main market trends and emerging markets that are influencing your go-to-market strategy this year?
JW: Speed of access continues to be a key issue for users who want more speed for the same price. Ethernet has become the delivery method of choice with typically 100Mb bearers and a 30Mb entry point. GCI is in a good position here to provide these services. We have our own network data centres and session border controllers for voice break out which means we can provide end-to-end SLAs and guarantee of quality of service.
Secondly, we have seen a big take up of Microsoft Lync. We alone have deployed nearly 50,000 seats and we only see that number growing rapidly now that we have developed a network of channel partners and our own multi-tenant deployment model for Lync.
As a consequence of these two developments in the market we are also witnessing a surge in demand for cloud or hosted telephony, both Broadsoft and Lync based. We expect to be one of the first providers of Broadcloud that will provide greater control to end users and reseller partners of their voice based telephony features.
CBM: How do these market drivers translate into your near/mid-term channel strategy?
JW: One of the key new services that we are introducing is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Here we will leverage the security of data and rapid deployment market drivers to typically target organisations with 30-40 users. We can take short-term, flexible VDI service in to the cloud and deliver it as a service for our resellers to sell to end-users.
An issue facing many resellers and their users however is how to provide and deploy all these cloud based services without having to invest in costly CAPEX based products.
The solution GCI has come up with is our Channel Gateway which enables resellers to have the ability to deliver innovative and flexible cloud services such as virtual desktops, Lync, telephony and Exchange without any large scale CAPEX investment. Our goal is to make all of our products and services available through the GCI Channel Gateway.
Overall, these services and the Channel Gateway deployment model will provide our resellers with the building blocks they need to grow ARPU. The time from booking orders to realising revenue streams will be reduced from months to minutes and result in a highly flexible service that makes customers stickier and less likely to churn.
CBM: What strategic channel moves will you be making in the coming year in terms of attacking existing markets with new products/services and addressing new markets with new products/services?
JW: Underpinning this is the considerable investment we have made in our new core network. All the pieces are in place for our channel to deliver quality products and services to their customers. Our strategy will be to enable channels to sell our product set as quickly and as efficiently as possible via our Channel Gateway.
More products and service will be added to the Gateway however our big push for the second half of 2014 will be on mobility applications – putting all these cloud based applications on to mobile devices to realise true convergence – and this will include voice.
To support our channel partners, and we will also be targeting managed service providers, we have produced a series of ‘playbooks’ to illustrate the value propositions of these services for end users as well as to provide reseller training.
CBM: What do you see as the biggest challenges/opportunities in the UK ICT channel and how will you maximise the opportunity and address the challenges as they relate to you?
JW: Key to success in these markets is transferring knowledge and skills to help channel partners to make it easy for themselves. Our Channel Gateway, which has been designed and developed in-house, is a key component in this mix.
One of the big opportunities for our channel partners and ourselves is to provide attractive and compelling bundles of services that build value, ARPU and build customer confidence.
CBM: It has been a year since your focus on the channel route to market began. What have been your key challenges and successes achieved during that period and what are the plans for the future?
JW: Over the last 12 months we have established all the building blocks for a successful channel operation; the people and the skill sets as well as having the network and datacentres. We are now building and gaining brand recognition in the channel. We have employed the right staff with channel experience and understanding such as Mark Whitehead, Head of Channel Sales and Chris Tate, our Director of Product Strategy.
We will continue to help resellers build value in their own business by providing high multiple value product sets now and in the future.