Vonage Channel Chief: Partners Driving Additional Revenue Sources

We caught up with Vonage's new channel boss at #CPExpo.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

April 10, 2019

6 Min Read
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CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — Since joining Vonage last November, Mario DeRiggi has been on the road nonstop spreading the message of why his company should be the lead partner for both the channel and customers.

Previously with Windstream, DeRiggi was appointed senior vice president of national channel sales and operations. He is charged with further advancing Vonage’s partner program.


Vonage’s Mario DeRiggi

As executive vice president at Broadview Networks (now Windstream), he drove UCaaS, cloud and managed-services sales among enterprise customers across all sales channels, as well as go-to-market strategies, channel sales support, technical service, training and customer support.

Last month, Vonage rolled out its first integrated Vonage Business Cloud and NewVoiceMedia offering, which follows Vonage’s acquisition of NewVoiceMedia for $350 million last September. Designed as an expansion of Vonage’s flagship cloud-native platform, CX Cloud Express is a customer relationship management (CRM)-integrated contact center service to help businesses deliver “great customer, agent and employee experiences.”

In a Q&A at Channel Partners Conference and Expo, DeRiggi talks about his work with partners and his plans for the months ahead.

Channel Partners: What have you been up to since joining Vonage?

Mario DeRiggi: For the last few months that I have been at Vonage, it’s been very fast-paced. So for me personally it was going out and making sure I had the right team in place to manage the direction we want for the channel and we do. We have a fantastic team in place. But other than that, it was really re-engagement of the partner program and getting deeper around a consistent message on why Vonage. We needed to do a much better job of going out and telling our partners, and enabling them on why Vonage should be their lead, what differentiates us. So we started off by scheduling 10 partner kickoff meetings; we have already completed New York City and Boston, and we’re working our way out west. We’ve had an unbelievable showing of partners at each one of our events and what we’re trying to do is give them the understanding of who is Vonage today, why are we different. We’ve spent the last few years putting together a …

… really robust product stack and today we are one of the, if not the only, cloud service provider and software company that actually owns our stack end to end. So from UC to the API platform, to number programmability, to our CC platform, that technology is now wholly owned by Vonage and we control the road map. So it’s been a nonstop on the road in front of customers, in front of partners, going through our messaging on why we should be the lead partner.

CP: During that time, what type of feedback have you received from partners?

MD: I would say the overall feedback has been unbelievably positive. There’s a general perception from our past of who Vonage is. We started as that consumer company where people knew us and then SMB, and I think when people saw our technology stack that we own end to end, and what that means for enterprise customers, and then we start talking about some use cases around these large enterprise customers that we bring on board, there was a lot of excitement around the product and go to market, and how we are using this really exciting, differentiating OneVonage platform to go out and drive into the enterprise market. We’re not that SMB provider that maybe the perception was in the past. We are truly an enterprise software company.

CP: Is the key for the message to be really simple?

MD: Two things. There [are] a bunch of studies out there that by the year 2020 customer experience is going to overtake price or product as the No. 1 reason people chose a company. So take that, and with this digital transformation, the technology that customers are using is getting much more complex. So if you look at experience matters and that experience is being driven by a complex technology solution … for us it’s always about how we simplify. So the one thing that’s constant is communications matters, and it’s not just communications with the customers, but communications with their employees and with their customers. So if you’re one of my customers, you’re using my technology to somehow, hopefully go out and generate your business and generate your sales. So how do we simplify that? And that’s what the OneVonage platform does. It takes a technology stack … simplifies it with a robust solution set that meets the customer’s needs, but also makes it very simple for them to understand.

CP: Are there new opportunities for partners?

MD: One of the things that really has come to light in our partners’ eyes is how innovative and disruptive Vonage is in the market right now. I think there’s a lot of excitement around what we’re going to market with. But one of the things that partners are realizing is for us it doesn’t matter where you come into the technology stack. It could be CC, it could be UC or it could be the API platform. One of the things we just rolled out is our new number programmability product. For the ability to go out and use a lot of technology across those stacks to do things people are not doing, and by taking those differentiated products, you’re driving the ability to take even more wallet share from your customers because these are products they don’t have today. It’s not a replacement, it’s “Hey, do you see how this product set could help you drive greater efficiencies within your business?” So by doing that, they’re finding …

… more and more ways to generate additional revenue for themselves, but not only that, they’re going out and making sure they’re being even more viewed by their customer as that trusted technology adviser because they’re bringing product suites with us that nobody else has that is really a changer in how that customer experience fits within Vonage … and by doing that, they’re driving additional revenue sources they never saw before.

CP: As Vonage has evolved, has your competition and your place in the competitive landscape changed?

MD: I don’t know if it’s changed. It’s growing. You have all the people who have UC, you have the standalone UC providers, you have the standalone CC providers, and you have people like Microsoft and Amazon who are trying to get into the market. They were there, but maybe not as forceful in the marketplace. So I think it’s expanding as the solution set expands. For me, the people who have the best and fastest route to markets are the ones who are going to win. Vonage has a fantastic route to market, we have an unbelievable universe of partners who trust us and want to work with us, so I welcome the competition because it just shows how differentiated Vonage is.

CP: So what’s next on your to-do list?

MD: We’ve rolled out this new OneVonage platform, so it’s training, it’s getting our partner community up to speed on our product suite and road map. The biggest thing for us is are you being viewed as easy to do business with, and I never will be satisfied with how easy we are to do business with. We’ve always got to make it easier for our partners to work with us. So a lot around self-service portal, enablement functions, a lot of that is going to be our focus in 2019.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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