Agents Have to Transform in 2012 (or So I'm Told)

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Agents Have to Transform in 2012 (or So I'm Told)

It seems that the channel execs - including master agents - are betting on VAR's to be the salvation for sales in the future. I can see a piece of that perspective. The tradition agent is transactional and slow to adopt new services. The VAR's are used to selling solutions - or so the view goes.

One thing that VAR's like is control. When they are selling a solution, they want control over as much of it as possible -- since it is their neck (and reputation) on the line. Certainly, a percentage of VAR's, worry less about control and more about maximizing profit by outsourcing as much as possible, but in my experience with VAR's, that is the minority.

I deal with ISP's and CLEC's and much of that sector also worries about control - control over as many elements of the service delivery as possible. Reselling Google Apps means no control. Running an Exchange server translates to as much control as you can have.

The Channel execs want Agents to start selling the products that, quite frankly, the carrier has promised Wall Street that they would sell. The margins for Type II T1's is poor. Carriers would like high margin sales, like cloud and managed services. Ultimately, the thinking is that VAR's will deliver on this before Agents will.

Back to the control piece: one thing that Agents understand is that you have NO CONTROL over anything in telecom. CLEC's have even less control than ILEC's. The FOC date moves without warning. Numbers port whenever - or not at all! There are disconnects in the installation process. The product ordered is not always the one delivered. It's a mess. All you can do is communicate with the customer and the carrier and smooth things over as much as you can. For VAR's, this is insanity. (I don't disagree. In this day and age, all of the service delivery should be clockwork.)

So while the Channel bets on VAR's, don't forget that many of the VAR's will actually be competing against you in a year or two as they deliver managed services and cloud apps themselves. Tiffany Bova at Gartner talks about this every time she gets a microphone. The MSP groups offer guides in how a VAR can become an MSP (Managed Service Provider). And the VAR has the advantage since the VAR owns the customer.

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