Apart from the typical benefits from certified status of Microsoft’s validation with customers, Microsoft’s policies of encouraging partnerships is generating new business for Actiance from other Microsoft vendor partners, and developing a higher value-add channel for them.
The certification itself is not a real net-new for Actiance. They were previously certified on Microsoft Lync, the previous branding of the voice business product. There are, however, some significant advantages that the certification confers here.
“Actiance has always worked closely with Microsoft, and we support millions of Skype for Business customers,” said Barry Ruditsky, SVP Business Development at Actiance. “Microsoft has finally put through a certification program for Skype for Business, and we are one of the first vendors to be certified on it.”
Actiance is the leader in the communications compliance space, although they have broadened out their solution offerings.
“We support over 70 different communications channels, from mail to chat, and all the major ISV platforms,” Ruditsky said. These allow for the capture, management, and securing of unified communications, enterprise social software, and instant messaging in real time.
“Twenty-three of the top 25 banks use us. We have also moved from just being a place where we capture data to one where we are able to create policies for a whole environment, which is a major need for larger customers. Our platform sets up policies across all the channels we support once the policy is initially implemented. In the past couple of years, we have gone from just being compliance into archiving as well.”
Compliance around the Office 365 market is increasingly important as customers move to the cloud.
“Microsoft is trying to get everyone to move on Skype for Business from on-prem to cloud,” Ruditsky said. “Financial services is heavily regulated, and this is an enterprise-wide solution, so you can’t have pockets in the organization using it and others that are not, depending on whether they are regulated or not. We help fill that hole in the regulated markets where they can’t deploy without compliance.”
A common benefit of certification is the benefit that having a Microsoft-approved validation means in the market.
“From the customer point of view, it shows that both our Microsoft sales and partner teams will be able to help Skype for Business faster,” Ruditsky said. “Microsoft has taken the time to ensure the products work well together, which provides confidence they meet their external requirements for regulators.”
The certification now adds enhanced value because Microsoft is actively facilitating cross-collaboration among their certified partners.
“From our perspective, Microsoft is trying to get its partners to work closer together,” Ruditsky commented. “This applies to relationships with other vendors, and we are getting leads from these sources that we haven’t had before.”
Microsoft is also encouraging its vendor partners to partner with their top integrator partners, something that also fits nicely into Actiance’s channel strategy.
“Historically, we have sold mainly direct, with about 20 per cent being channel, and the Office 365 Skype is similar to that, maybe a little bit higher,” Ruditsky said. “Our problem historically is that we weren’t getting partners who could work beyond fulfillment. I joined Actiance last August, as we rebuilt our channel strategy. We want to focus on that right handful of Microsoft Gold partners, who are capable of work beyond fulfillment.”