“We need to make sure that all paths to market are growing.”

Buffy Naylor, Senior Managing Editor

March 13, 2024

3 Min Read
Market Makers

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — As telcos and cable companies move further and further into new solution areas, the indirect channel is taking on particular  importance to them. On Wednesday, March 13, an expert panel of channel leaders from the telco and cable spaces came together for “The Market Makers Driving Partner Value in Communications and Connectivity,” a discussion of how the competitive landscape is changing and their companies’ approaches to working with the indirect channel.

The panel consisted of (from left to right above) moderator Kelly Danziger of Informa Tech, Michael Caralis of Verizon Business, Matt Fassnacht of Comcast Business, Chris Jones of AT&T, Paul Spencer of T-Mobile and Robert DeMarzo of Informa Tech, who also moderated.

The panel agreed that while their companies might fairly be considered competitors, they were also all working to move telco and cable business forward within the larger channel ecosystem.

“We need to make sure that all paths to market are growing,” said AT&T’s Jones.

The panel also agreed that the key to that growth for them is the indirect channel. And to that end, their companies have focused on developing and implementing programs and strategies that are attractive to the indirect channel.

‘The channel’s really critical to what we’re doing at Comcast,” said Fassnacht. “The channel is on the cutting edge of where technology’s going and where solutions are going.”

“I think it’s important for all of us that we have programs that we can meet a customer the way the customer wants to do business with us” Jones said. “If you have a varied strategy, you can get there.”

“Channel involvement has doubled in the last two years at T-Mobile,” said Spencer.

“The channel is fully integrated in Verizon,” said Caralis. “The reach and the ability to create a premium customer experience — which is what is expected from our brand — is empowered by the channel. That’s why we have such a robust channel program.”

Telcos and cablecos are acutely aware that solution sales are all about relationships, something for which they turn to the channel.

“The reason we’re focusing on indirect the way we are is that there are customer relationships we don’t have and people in the channel do have,” said Jones. “For us to get access to the customers that aren’t doing business with us, we have to be building a program filled with market strategy with the people that have those relationships. It’s about how we work with the people that have the customer relationships.

“From a channel perspective, there’s opportunity everywhere. The key is to build a program that partners want to work with. Build an environment where partners find you desirable as a supplier to work with, And if you do that the right way, you’re going to have access to their customers. It’s an external view in instead of an external view out.”

When asked where they saw the greatest opportunity, every member of the panel cited connectivity and security. With businesses finding their footing again after the pandemic and adapting to new ways of doing business, they’re turning to channel partners for expertise and assistance.

“Connectivity is the most important thing people think about,” said Jones. “If all your data is sitting in the cloud somewhere and you can’t get access to it, the business shuts down.

“The criminal side of cybersecurity is larger than the drug industry,” he continued. “It’s important with all of this data that’s traversing networks, whether wired or wireless, that there’s also security.”

So do these telcos and cablecos see themselves competing in the same way and for the same things as they did before the pandemic?

‘We’re all suppliers and we all work together,” said Caralis. “It’s around the relationships you’re able to build, the technology you’re able to deploy and the outcomes you’re able to create for customers and how it helps you grow your business while you’re doing it.”

About the Author(s)

Buffy Naylor

Senior Managing Editor, Channel Futures

Buffy Naylor is senior managing editor of Channel Futures. Prior to joining Informa (then VIRGO) in 2008, she was an award-winning copywriter and editor, then senior manager of corporate communications for an international leisure travel corporation and, before that, in charge of creative development and copywriting for a boutique marketing and public relations agency.

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