With its eye on how the channel and customers can use AI to make things easier, it has also updated its partner program.

Moshe Beauford, Contributing Editor

March 12, 2024

3 Min Read

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — Two months after leaving RingCentral for FusionConnect, Jeff Winnett says the communications-centric managed service provider (MSP) plans to revamp how its channel partner program does business.


He told Channel Futures that gone are the days of a siloed channel and sales force. Now, it's about a unified team, telling us, "They are now fully integrated." The company is working at warp speed to create a unity that will translate to more "winning" via a reinvigorated channel partner program. 

"We're also looking to provide a best-in-class solution our partner community can give their customers," Winnett said.

Placing partners into three categories -- deceivers, believers and achievers -- Winnett said he's looking to get rid of the "deceivers" the company's "currently wasting time with."

Instead, he wants to put more time into supporting, educating and training those partners wanting to increase their probability of success with the firm's Microsoft Teams calling platform, which he sees as a "sweet spot." 

Revamping a Dated Channel Partner Program via AI

Winnett sees value in the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) can automate tasks seen as repetitive.

In this sense, he says, Fusion Connect has put its money where its mouth is, deploying Microsoft Copilot throughout the organization in hopes of creating "AI champions" and unearthing novel use cases that save customers and channel members time and money. 

"There has to be a tremendous effort of education and training of what AI is and what it can help a customer achieve, which is why we understand the transformative power of pairing AI with voice solutions," Winnett said.  

Doing so, Winnett asserts, is how every business conversation gets turned into what he called a "digital asset." The Fusion Connect exec wants companies to leverage all the data produced by AI to make critical business decisions, "helping them fuel growth and innovation.

"Partners should be using AI to see how it can enhance their customer insights and improve operational efficiencies for themselves. If they already have a Microsoft license, they don't realize the importance of what they can do with it."

Having "That Conversation" with Customers

Going after a ripe crowd of Microsoft loyalists, Winnett said if customers have yet to enable voice but have a Microsoft license, it's time to "have that conversation" with them.

That simple conversation can lead to a breadth of opportunities and most importantly, he said, higher revenue for the channel and getting AI deployed to make more informed decisions for all parties.

Winnett feels the collaboration giant's AI technology will "strongly" enhance aspects of any business and can lead to higher profit margins for those organizations once data is leveraged to implement the changes AI recommends.

"This is why the channel should go to their customers and address the low-hanging fruit to garner if they want more powerful solutions for only a bit more, monthly," Winnett said.  

The channel leader also told us he's building his team, because "we have not recruited the right partners." Winnett told Channel Futures he's looking to increase their probability of success with Fusion Connect. 

Since the launch of Microsoft Copilot late last year, a number of vendors have gotten on board with the solution as they realize how it might enhance their efforts on several fronts. 

SIPPIO is another vendor focusing its efforts in a space that could inevitably make the channel much more productive and profitable with a tool Canalys chief analyst Jay McBain said will be "free" within a year as customers grow to expect it to be a "feature" much like analytics.

About the Author(s)

Moshe Beauford

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Moshe has nearly a decade of expertise reporting on enterprise technology. Within that world, he covers breaking news, artificial intelligence, contact center, unified communications, collaboration, cloud adoption (digital transformation), user/customer experience, hardware/software, etc.

As a contributing editor at Channel Futures, Moshe covers unified communications/collaboration from a channel angle. He formerly served as senior editor at GetVoIP News and as a tech reporter at UC/CX Today.

Moshe also has contributed to Unleash, Workspace-Connect, Paste Magazine, Claims Magazine, Property Casualty 360, the Independent, Gizmodo UK, and ‘CBD Intel.’ In addition to reporting, he spends time DJing electronic music and playing the violin. He resides in Mexico.

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