Whaleback Expands Channel In Managed Voice Space

Whaleback Systems Inc., a managed voice provider, plans to expand its channel and geographic reach this year. The company, based in Portsmouth, N.H., provides an IP PBX appliance that incorporates a remote access capability. The latter feature lets Whaleback provide cloud-based management and monitoring. Whaleback Systems can keep tabs on both wide-area and local-area networks. The company’s Managed Services Center serves as the hub for minding customer networks and other support activities.

Whaleback Systems’ go-to-market strategy has involved the channel since 2006. Since then, the company has built relations with more than 30 reseller partners. The company now aims to scale up its channel presence. Whaleback Systems this week boosted its partner program with mobility, contact center, and unified communications solutions, vertically oriented marketing programs, and new quote tools. The program works with carriers, ,VARs, and sales agents.

Melodye Mueller, Whaleback Systems’ VP of sales and marketing, said to expect additional channel announcements this year. “We are looking to significantly expand the channel and geographic coverage throughout North America,” she said.

Seeking Managed Services

Whaleback Systems’ channel initiative comes at time when telecom agents and consultants are looking to bolster margins through managed services. Margin pressure in carrier services and on-premise gear contribute to this trend.

Chuck Garabedian, president of Intelliphone, has experienced shrinking margins in the Andover, Mass. company’s traditional voice VAR business. Years ago, on-premise equipment sold at a pretty good profit, with additional margin stemming from labor and new systems, he said. But over the past eight to 10 years, the Internet changed the voice market. The newer systems afforded customer access, which reduced administration work a VAR would otherwise have.  In addition, customers would buy additional phones on the Internet, cutting the VAR out of the sale while increasing the population of devices requiring support. Most support calls required an expensive truck roll.

But Garabedian said partnering with Whaleback Systems has improved the margin situation. Previously, 80 percent of the incoming service calls required a truck roll. Whaleback Systems’ diagnostic tools, however, have reduced the slice of calls demanding a truck roll to less than 10 percent, Garabedian estimated.

Garabedian said he set up a separate corporation to pursue the Whaleback Systems business. He’s found that business to be 5 to 6 times more profitable than his traditional on-premise operation.

Revenue comes from two different sources, Garabedian said. He said he gets a piece of the activation fee Whaleback Systems charges customers. He said that fee arrives upfront, enabling his company to break even on installation.Whaleback Systems partners also earn a residual every month -- a recurring revenue stream over the life of the customer’s contract.

Whaleback Systems offers voice and data VARs a path to telecom that’s lies somewhere between on-premise and hosted VoIP solutions. It’s another option to consider for companies seeking better telecom margins.

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