Fast Track

Fast Track

Susannah Maxa & Brendon Cross with Honda F1
Susannah Maxa, Managing Director of Intellion, profiles her network services company.

Oxfordshire-based Intellion was formed in 2005 as a network services company for STL (formerly Spire Telecom) an established reseller of voice and data communications solutions.

“At the time the whole market was ‘buzzing’. IP applications were rapidly coming to the fore and STL were selling IP-based communications solutions that required new network services.

The barriers to entry in the network services market were minimal for Intellion; we already had an existing Tempest billing platform from the time we used to sell minutes (STL had sold their minutes business to Opal some time before and ploughed the funds back into developing their hardware operations) and we had the skills and know-how to make it work. What we needed was a new generation of network services products for the IP market.

“At the same time we became acutely aware that many of our previous network minutes’ customers were ‘drifting away’ and THUS wanted to work with us to win them back with IP-based solutions. Convergence, the integration of voice and data communications, therefore provided the opening in the market we were looking for and we grabbed it with both hands.”

– Intellion billed just under £1 million in their first year made up from three elements;

– Traditional voice products that would migrate to IP services over time.

– IP trunks installed on PBX such as Samsung and Avaya being sold by STL

– A hybrid mixture of the above.

“We secure our customers through selling applications,” says Maxa. “We sell specific products that are bespoke to Intellion/STL in key market sectors. For example, in the legal sector we are a LAWNET partner. LAWNET is the UK and Ireland’s leading group of law firms, brought together by a common commitment to provide legal services of the highest quality. Being a partner means that these top 60-plus law firms come to us for services without having to go to tender for their communications needs which in turn results in a minute or an IP minute on our hardware and network.”

 

Challenges

“The challenge now is to align the two parts of our business, STL and Intellion, to gain maximum advantage in the market.We did not realise when we set up Intellion just how fast the network services business would take off but we anticipate having this alignment completed by February 2007.

“STL was one of Samsung’s first UK resellers and we are now a Platinum partner with a direct purchasing relationship with the vendor. At t

he same time we are also an Avaya Gold accredited reseller for IP Office via distributor Crane telecommunications. “The direction in which THUS has moved with its new wave technologies product portfolio, IP trunks and MPLS networks etc., therefore fits very well with our business profile.”

Having sold their original network services business to Opal Intellion now has an exclusive arrangement with them to sell their traditional voice minutes and inbound call recording applications. The latter application being very important for Intellion’s business with LAWNET.

 

Convergence

Maxa takes the view that when it comes to convergence, differentiation is key. “You can ‘build’ your own products by putting together a suite of third party products and applications and marketing the package as a bespoke user offering. In terms of convergence platforms we believe the Samsung OfficeServ 7200/7400 systems are well placed.

“When it comes to gaining accreditation we find that vendor training courses are very expensive however, we have been fortunate to be able to use our vendor JMF funds to offset this cost in many cases.”

 

Business Outlook & Plans

Maxa, “We see Intellion working very closely with THUS; their portfolio is growing rapidly and their account management and support has been excellent. Diane Sweetman, our account manager and Stuart Finlay, Sales Manager, have both been great at keeping us a abreast of new products and opportunities.

“At the same time, Paul Billingham and Phil Titchmarsh at Opal were key in helping us develop Intellion and securing the LAWNET business.

“Looking ahead, there is not much margin left in minutes. Resellers need a suite of products, and maybe you need to take some business at cost with a view to holding on to the customer and selling new IP services to them in the future.

“I also believe that to succeed you need to be prepared to take some risks in order to maximise your opportunities and grow your business. It was a calculated risk for us to launch a switchless reseller business but we did it and it has worked.”

 
smaxa@intellion.co.uk