WASHINGTON D.C. – SMB-focused cloud services IT provider Intermedia was here at the CompTIA ChannelCon event again this week. Intermedia was emphasizing Unite, their Unified Communications-as-a-Service [UCaaS] offering, which they launched five months ago, and which they believe provides partners with a differentiated offering for the SMB space, particularly as they make it available as a private label offering, something that is still fairly rare in the UCaaS market.
“We are going through an evolution,” said Eric Martorano, Chief Revenue Officer at Intermedia, who joined the company in the fall of 2016 from Microsoft, one of Intermedia’s key strategic partners. “Intermedia’s primary offering when we started was email. We acquired AccessLine, a cloud PBX, six years ago, and we built up a solid voice business and continued to evolve that. As we looked for ways to enable partners to add more value, we saw a big market opportunity in UCaaS. SMBs need to add more value around collaboration, so we acquired AnyMeeting, for videoconferencing and webconferencing, in September 2017. We then integrated these two products and our SecuriSync product into Unite, bringing three separate products into one united platform. We took that to market in February.”
Martorano emphasized that this kind of broadly integrated product is what the SMB market today needs.
“We believe that having three unified communication capabilities will allow SMBs to be more productive,” he said. “The opportunity to collaborate beyond voice is a major need for the SMB customer today.”
Martorano referenced a survey that Intermedia did with SMB-focused research firm Techaisle that they released two months ago. It indicated that the average SMB has 2.4 offices, and 91 per cent of them have mobile employees as well. Now those could well be home offices, or distributed locations of a company that has no physical office at all, but these people still need communication and collaboration tools to maximize their effectiveness. 40 per cent of SMBs are using some form of collaboration solution now, which is a jump from 32 per cent two years ago. That also means, however, that 60 per cent are a green fields market, and the UCaaS offering is well positioned for them.
“This market has been looking for a solution like Unite,” Martorano said. “We are seeing large market momentum with Unite. The launch was a phased approach, and we have gotten significant pickup right now. Close to 50 per cent of our voice sales are now Unite.”
Martorano also emphasized that Intermedia provides the support partners need to deliver this effectively.
“We are a channel-first company,” he said. “We have two straight awards from J.D. Power for an exceptional level of support. Our sweet spot is the sub-100 part of the market, but we are an enterprise-level product in capability, with 5 9s reliability, which is easy to use, easy to deploy, and easy to manage.”
Intermedia offers partners a traditional agent model, resell and commission, or a private label option.
“A key reason we have been successful from a channel perspective is because we have a private label offering,” Martorano said. “Over 50 per cent of our business is now private label, so you don’t see our brand out there that much. There aren’t that many private label offerings for UCaaS. You see between and 30 and 50 per cent margins with us, where the industry average is under 20 per cent. We allow partners to set margin, which is another differentiator.”
Overall, the channel organization in the last two years has grown over 30 per cent, with Martorano having come into the job determined to improve Intermedia’s channel enablement.
“We now have a partner concierge desk that is focused on handling the quoting ordering and provisioning process, from the initial quote down to provisioning,” he said. “We hired a sales engineering team – focused exclusively on partners – which is mainly pre sales support, both in the field and on the phone. The field organization is now fully in place, with eight people in the field to help with larger opportunities that are a little more complex from a technical perspective. We also now have more business development activities and an expanded inside sales presence.
“All of our partners have to go through no-cost certification,” Martorano added. “That’s another one of the things I brought in, and it came in when we rolled out Unite. We brought a whole new channel enablement model together, which included the certification, and today we have over 700 partners certified on Unite. Training and enablement is one of the thing partners talk about. The certification takes a partner about three hours to go through. There’s a go-to-market certification which is required, and a deeper technical certification, that is optional. The training and enablement provides the customer with a better experience and deeper understanding of the offering.”