Vociferous Vodafone

Vociferous Vodafone

Tim Stone

Israel Beniaminy, senior VP for product strategy at ClickSoftware Technologies

Just over a year ago, Vodafone launched its Vodafone Partner Programme. Here, we take a look at how things are going at Vodafone Partner Services with Tim Stone, Vodafone’s small enterprise business director, and Tony Bailey, head of Partner Programme Services

When Vodafone launched its Partner Programme back in 2010, enterprise director at Vodafone, Peter Kelly, said: “As we move from an era of mobile connectivity to selling unified communication services, it is crucial that our channel partners have the right training, skills and capabilities to sell solutions, such as One Net, to grow their businesses. The Vodafone Partner Programme is a clear demonstration of our commitment to our channel partners and their future growth potential.”

He continued: “I think we’re just reinforcing our commitment to interact with our partners. Altogether, 25% of our overall business in enterprise comes from our indirect channel already. We’ve put a lot of investment into indirect over the past 18 months, and we’ve done very well. We’ve had very, very strong business over the last four quarters [in 2010] from the indirect channel, with quarter on quarter growth. I think we’ve been listening to our partners, asking how we can better serve them for growth. And so, in response to what they’ve said, we’ve launched the Vodafone Partner Programme.”

Rapid progress

Today, things have moved on quickly, and Stone says the Programme has lived up to the initial hype: “We made bold claims at the launch of the Programme. We wanted to make the best Partner Programme bar none. And the results one year on show Vodafone has done very well. We have got significant revenue growth through the indirect channel, with a large amount of growth on data revenue which is up 19% year on year, driven by smartphones. Half of our customers now have smartphones, and three quarters of small businesses have them.”

Stone adds that the indirect channel’s customers are important to Vodafone: “Small business is something we feel passionate about, which we are demonstrating by building attractive products and propositions for that market. Products like One Net Express and Office 365 are helping change the way small to medium sized companies are working.

“However, in the UK’s small business market overall, revenue is down year on year in mobile. We see that the market is declining into the low to medium single digit percentage points, but at Vodafone we are still growing our revenue in that space year on year to the mid single digits. We’re excited to be growing in the small and medium business space, despite the evidence we see in the market that shows that area is actually shrinking,” notes Stone.

Stone observes: “As a mobile business, we were more focused on selling units; as a unified communications business, we are now more focused on complex solutions and that’s what we are helping our Partners to sell now, and over the next 12 months.”

 

Fastest growing

Bailey runs Vodafone Partner Services, which is the fastest growing channel for Vodafone. The division has seen year on year revenue growth of around 20%, with connections also up 20%, and a reduction of 1% on its churn in addition.

“We’ve had a great financial performance and overall performance over the year,” comments Bailey. “A large proportion of our One Net sales, both One Net Business and One Net Express, and a significant number of our unified comms sales are coming through the channel.”

He says the reason the Programme has been so successful is because of the support Vodafone has provided to the channel: “We have delivered the tiering, training, accreditation and skill sets the channel needs to sell. Overall we are pleased with what we have achieved so far.

“We will offer additional training and services going forward over 2012, such as for cloud-based service Microsoft Office 365,” says Bailey. “Also, this year we will offer One Net implementation services, so our Partners can do more, selling, surveying, implementing and maintaining, which will be good for our Platinum Partners who have the skill sets to deliver that.

 

Partner steeringPartner steering

“Our training isn’t just about products, features and facilities though,” he remarks. “It’s about helping Partners understand what the customer needs and working out the right solution to sell them.”

Bailey adds that what has helped grow Vodafone’s business through the channel has been its use of Partner Boards, enabling resellers to give feedback and help structure the development of the Programme. Vodafone runs Platinum, Gold and Silver Partner boards, with about 10 people per board session. “The Partner Boards have been really valuable, and we absolutely using those to steer our direction.”

Stone notes: “One year on in the Vodafone Partner Programme, and it’s been good to be part of creating it. We feel we’re well on the way to being the best bar none, based on the feedback from our Partners, who feel the results they are seeing are very good. We’re doing well and are growing substantially in the marketplace, and we believe we’re beating the marketplace.”