In the first of our 2015 portal reviews we had a test drive of the new (September 2014) channel offering, 1Portal, from network services firm Virtual1 to find out why the company rated it so highly. Were they right to do so?
We are going to see a lot about portals in 2015; they are the window to quoting, ordering and provisioning solutions of all flavours for resellers. Everyone thinks their portal is ‘The Best on The Planet’ for some reason so we are putting them to the test this year starting in London with Virtual1 who last carried out a major upgrade in September to a portal initially launched four years ago.
1Portal is more like a web site than a ‘traditional’ portal when you land on the home page. There are details of news and promotions and a link to the company blog. There’s an IP address authentication to get beyond and levels of access thereafter for sales and technical – in fact the reseller can create their own user profiles and grant permissions of what can be done and seen by users.
Virtual1 Managing Director Tom O’Hagan says the portal was originally conceived in order to improve customer experience.
“We wanted to provide our resellers with the speed and agility to win more business by giving them all the information they needed at their fingertips in real time. Prior to having this portal resellers could wait up to three weeks before an order was ‘ready to go’ having been back and forth with quotes, the commercials and sign offs etc. With the portal we help partners reduce errors and monetise their orders mush faster.”
And there’s no doubt the portal is fast! The demonstration I went through showed quotes and pricing being put together incredibly fast and users are presented with a choice of circuits from all the carriers Virtual1 partners with. Options for users are too numerous to list but suffice to say you can order the results displayed in almost every and any combination. You can even omit suppliers if you are not keen on using their products.
Once you press the submit button on your chosen criteria for a circuit all the API’s that are integrated in to the carriers’ systems jump in to action – again this all happens very quickly.
You can select a backup failover service, and see the installation costs as well as configure SIP services at the same time should the end user need those.
Once you press the order button the whole process becomes integrated in to the Virtual1 Salesforce.com system for authentication, and once the order has been placed the reseller has access to information on service inventory, provisioning and project management, support case tickets, line monitoring and other documentation for a complete service wrap.