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Why it’s Essential to Choose the Right Partner

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In preparation for the upcoming ShoreTel One Champion Partner Conference, we’re highlighting some of our partners who will be in attendance. The following post comes from BCM One, a partner who helps businesses manage multiple telecommunications solutions and vendors. 

Much of the conversation in the technology distribution space is around transforming your business into a “cloud” company. From events I participate in and panels I sit on, this message is not resonating well. Part of the problem lies in the fact that a message telling partners to become something they are not is hard to swallow. Asking a company to be a cloud company is like asking a car dealership to make cars. I think a better question is: how do I fit cloud into my existing business model?

Partners fall into a few categories: value-added reseller (VAR), systems integrator (SI), managed service provider (MSP) and telecommunications broker/consultant. VARs plan, design and implement hardware solutions for their clients. They wrestle with whether to build their own cloud or fight the cloud tide by telling their clients not to move their service off-premises. Both systems integrators and VARs primarily work off a capital expenditure model made up of consulting fees and equipment sales. A residual model must be integrated into their business with careful consideration.

MSPs typically do not want to get their hands dirty with time consuming and frequently frustrating carrier management. A traditional telecommunications consultant has vast experience in the planning, design and implementation of voice and data services. Their expertise often spans providers and includes both the performance of the carrier’s networks along with the sales, provisioning and day-2 support of those carriers. However, they can get out of their comfort zone when a CTO dives deep into their specific technology stack.

All of the above partners are usually successful in their respective fields, but face separate challenges related to integrating cloud into their offerings. There is one thing that all of the above businesses have in common – trusted relationships with their clients.

Today’s businesses require access to their critical business applications all the time – both locally and remotely, across multiple devices. Each business has a unique IT environment that requires a custom solution that should be adjusted to the constantly changing business environment. Businesses need to ask and answer numerous questions: Do I hire the talent internally to address the client need? How do I recruit and pay for these expensive talent resources? How could this impact the culture of my business and how may it impact my exit strategy? Do I have enough work to keep these people busy and is it the right type of work that will keep them interested? When will I see the return on my investment?

My advice is to remain true to your business model and integrate next generation services into it at a controlled pace. Expand into services that naturally connect into what you are doing now, through strategic partnerships. Once you gain the necessary experience in that discipline, constantly evaluate whether you want to continue to use partnerships or take the step of taking on that resource internally. Repeat the process over and over for other managed services.

The IT market is expanding exponentially and is expected to reach 1.7 trillion globally in 2017. Although clients become upset when problems arise, they are forgiving if they feel the event was an honest mistake that will not happen again. Maintaining trust built over years through quality service, complemented by new services introduced at the appropriate pace, will result in happy clients, additional revenue per client and referral opportunities. Many of us spend the majority of our time preventing and tackling issues.  In order to choose the strategic partners who have a similar culture to you and integrate their processes into your processes, you should create an end-to-end solution without gaps. It requires taking the time to pick your partners well and working with them to make sure that the end result is a great experience for your clients.

About the author:

An entrepreneurial leader with a rare vision for the future of the technology landscape, BCM One Co-CEO John Cunningham has founded and piloted several successful companies over the past 25 years. A respected industry thought-leader, he recently rolled up three firms into BCM One to offer businesses a one-stop trusted partner who can deliver the technologies, tools, and people-driven service they need to compete. Cunningham is or has been a member of the advisory boards of CenturyLink, Level 3, ShoreTel, Lightower, West IP and Internap and was twice a finalist for Cloud Partner’s “Telecom Executive of the Year” Award.