Riding a Wave to Success

Jon-Harris-Channel-Manager-Wavenet

Comms Business Magazine talks to Wavenet’s Head of Channel Jon Harris about how the company transitioned to a channel business and what they now offer to partners.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Tell us about your company; when did you start, what were the original objectives of the company and how have these changed over the years?

Wavenet: The Company started in early 2000 with the original intention of being a direct sales reseller providing fixed line services, telephone systems and other products such as inbound NGN solutions. There was always a plan to enter into the channel from the inception but of course the concept had to be proven first; if we couldn’t sell our products how could we expect our partners to?

Progressively, as the company expanded and developed skill sets, the channel has become a key and constituent part of the business and continues to be at the heart of Wavenet’s on-going core strategy and strength as a supplier.

CBM: What have been the significant milestones achieved since the company was formed? 

Wavenet: In 2009 Wavenet was a successful lines and calls business, however our growth on lines and calls was slowing, margins were being squeezed we identified if we wanted to continue to grow we needed to adapt , re-align the business in to a growth market since the traditional voice market was declining.

By 2010 we were clear on our Strategy we wanted to be the leading supplier of hosted telephony, but would focus on quality, service and functionality.

A key milestone was acquiring Titan Technology. Titan was an established, respected and successful Broadsoft Hosted Telephony partner, which meant we then had the skills and relationships to enter that market with the right product from day one.

However, the challenge we still faced was that we could not rely on other service providers, i.e., ISPs, to deliver the quality of connectivity we needed for Hosted Voice services. So in 2011 we acquired IZR Networks. This provided Wavenet with a platform that we could invest and re-design as an intelligent data network capable of supporting more demanding and sophisticated voice services as well as data connectivity.

These two acquisitions where vital parts of our plan, giving us experience, control and flexibility to offer a compelling proposition.

CBM: How has the company transitioned from direct sales to a channel business?

Wavenet: it’s been relatively easy since we are interested in partners, a word used too often these days without any real conviction or thought.

Our products and services are aimed and targeted at partners who understand good product and good service.

We focus on a specific segment of the market we do not want to be a provider to the entire channel, since this would mean potentially we would need to compromise.

CBM: What are your five core channel products?

1 – Hosted & Unified Voice

2 – Ethernet Circuits & Connectivity

3 – MPLS Networks

4 – Lines & Calls

5 – Business Mobile

CBM: What do you offer the channel that is different?

Wavenet: We offer the channel a complete ‘end2end’ delivery of well priced, quality products aimed at the Hosted Voice market place. This includes Broadsoft Hosted Seats, Handsets, Switches, and Connectivity all backed up by a service delivery portal to provide a true white-labelled hosted platform offering for our resellers. We also give the channel excellent support from a dedicated Channel Manager and support team focussed on providing results for our channel partners.

Significantly we provide a wealth of proven experience in delivering Hosted Telephony into the Channel through being one of the largest Broadsoft/Hipcom partners in the UK.

One example of this lies in the way we have built our business interfaces. Wavenet is able to offer our partners/resellers ‘Best of Breed’ choices for their connectivity – on our ISP portal resellers get choices of five different carriers for Ethernet services. This is important, as each of these carriers is ‘on-net’ in different areas of the country.

CBM: How would you characterise the state of the market and the channel today?

Wavenet: We are observing a period where a number of new entrants to the Hosted Voice market are all trying to sell into the channel. Some would say that the suppliers that have delayed their decision to enter the market are now reacting to the surge in end user demand by jumping on the bandwagon in a last minute attempt to try and introduce Hosted Voice to their channels. I would caution resellers to only work with experienced suppliers such as Wavenet.

What I am also seeing is that Hosted Telephony now is being offered in all sorts of flavours i.e. – With a handset, with minutes. What we do is keep it simple, giving the reseller the choice of where they want to buy their hardware, handsets.

The shape of the channel has changed over the past year or so; from traditional Telco’s being uppermost in customers minds to the IT supplier constantly being turned to by the user for trusted advice and provision of Unified and Hosted Communications.

I see this path continuing for the next two to three years as ‘The Cloud’ becomes better understood by IT Suppliers and resellers. This represents a great opportunity for resellers to work with a hosted telephony supplier that can provide the kind of support needed to exploit this market.

CBM: what advice would you give to a channel partner considering entering hosted telephony market?

Do your homework, then revise your homework, and then revise again.

There are more bad suppliers than good, get it right and it will transform your business, get it wrong and it might destroy your business.