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Advantage executives said European multinational companies are warming to the firm's unique blend of agent and MSP services.
February 15, 2023
Advantage Communications Group continues to invest in people to drive its unique managed telecom services model after a year of strong international adoption, particularly in EMEA.
The 20-year-old telecom agent-turned-MSP reported double-digit growth over the last five years. Executives say they plan to grow its headcount more, following an already aggressive year of hiring.
Advantage’s David Gardner
“I don’t think it’s going to slow down in any way,” CEO David Gardner told Channel Futures. “I don’t see anything slowing down, not with the pace and the direction we’re taking. If anything, I see the hockey stick just becoming more vertical.”
The New York-based company added 10 people to its European team, focusing on sales and engineering. Its European footprint especially grew in France and Portugal. Advantage bases its European headquarters in Barcelona, Spain.
Advantage also hired 35 U.S. employees in 2022. Those hires included vice president of global sourcing and procurement Karie Atwood. Atwood previously directed UCaaS and CCaaS supplier management at Telarus and led supplier management at PlanetOne. She’ll apply her talents to work with Advantage’s roster of carrier providers.
Advantage’s Karie Atwood
“She’s got a very deep history in managing global relationships with underlying providers,” CEO David Gardner told Channel Futures.
Advantage’s revenue model looks like that of many technology advisors (agents). It earns recurring commissions from vendors it recommends to customers — with a technology focus on multi-site, global networks. However, Advantage serves as the manager and optimizer of its clients’ networks, overseeing expenses, inventory and life cycle. It provides these services free for customers, provided that they use Advantage to source their underlying network providers.
And that model is finding great favor in Europe and elsewhere, CEO David Gardner told Channel Futures. For example, the firm is competing in an RFP against two large carriers to win a deal with a large bank.
Gardner said that more large global enterprises are looking to use a single partner to source multiple network vendors. Calling on a single carrier to handle all of their locations could prove monetarily costly, owing partly to the fact that the carrier would need to resell connections from other carriers in order to fill gaps in its footprint. But Advantage and its peers in the advisor community can aggregate those various providers in a more cost-effective manner, Gardner said.
Moreover, Gardner said enterprises are looking for that partner to play a hands-on role throughout the entire customer life cycle.
“If you want to put it together yourself, you’ve got to get consultants and accountants and TEMs and try to put all that stuff into a puzzle that is broken,” Gardner said.
Advantage also announce multiple partnerships last year that served to grow its partner base. A highly publicized partnership was with Extreme Networks, which offered its elite client Advantage’s Command Center customer portal. The partnership occurred after Extreme acquired Ipanema to enter the SD-WAN space and needed to bolster its skill set around the network underlay segment associated with SD-WAN.
Gardner said the partnership has created strong opportunities to raise awareness of Advantage’s brand in front of huge logo customers. Gardner said Extreme webinars featuring him as a speaker have attracted thousands of attendees.
Advantage has also partnered with Conscia, a firm landing in more of the traditional managed IT services provider category. Gardner said Conscia was also building out an SD-WAN practice and is using Advantage to optimize its inventory. The companies have teamed up on different accounts, including those of large European pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies.
Gardner said Advantage spent much of last year listening to customers and sharpening its processes. The company has spent the better part of decade pivoting from a pure broker to more holistic services provider, and Gardner said he sees those investments lining up well with enterprise demand.
Seeing “dozens of large enterprises” adopt the firm’s services is justifying all of the investments Advantage has made, he said.
“These large multinationals are looking for a different model, and we happen to have built it,” Gardner said in our interview. “It’s one of those things where you’re just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.”
Senior News Editor, Channel Futures
James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.
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