ArrowS3 Focused on Services
Citius Altius Fortius. That was the theme at the recent ArrowS3 national sales conference. The Olympian expression translates to Faster, Higher, and Stronger. That's a powerful and timely mantra for the UC channel. The conference opened with the lighting of a mock Olympic cauldron, and closed with a motivational keynote by Apolo Ohno. Avaya, a diamond sponsor of the event, is also sponsoring the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
ArrowS3 bills itself as a UC focused systems integrator (SI). Rather than running from the UC handle, ArrowS3 is defining its business around it. ArrowS3 is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arrow, a +$22 billion, electronics distributor. It is Avaya's 3rd largest partner with a large customer base of both "Avaya Red" and "Avaya Blue" (Nortel) customers that stemmed from its prior lives as separate super-VARs Shared Technologies and Cross Telecom.
To be a top UC SI moving forward, ArrowS3 believes a portfolio of multiple brands is required. In addition to Avaya, it is building an internal Lync practice, and offers Cisco product and services through a relationship with the ShoreGroup. ArrowS3 also offers Unify, Mitel, NEC, AVST, Genband, Polycom, and ... actually there were 66 vendor partners co-sponsoring the event. Each was hoping to increase its mindshare among the members of the S3 sales team.
Attending this event made me realize how much the channel has changed - and hasn't changed at all. One thing that hasn't changed is the lucrative Nortel base. Will they ever replace those CS1000s? ArrowS3 thinks so, as it was a recurring theme of the conference. "The options to upgrade have never been more compelling, and we expect to see a significant amount of upgrades in 2014," says John Delozier, SVP Sales at ArrowS3. The near term strategy is to capture those upgrades with the most compelling set of options.
Avaya made several updates to IP Office over the past 18 months, and it is now well positioned to capture CS1000 replacements. For customers wanting to go cloud, Arrow is ready with its own hosted solution called ucCloud. ArrowS3 is also prepared to assist with migrations to Lync and Cisco solutions. The upgrade opportunity is so significant that CTO Jeff Reed cited it as a primary factor that lured him to ArrowS3.
SyanpS3 ucCloud is powered by technology from Genband. When Nortel was split-up - both Avaya and Genband acquired components, and both got rights to the UNIStim technology used in its IP phones. Genband has focused primarily on service providers, but its platform is now positioned for enterprise implementations too. ArrowS3's hosted implementation reunites the two Nortel's within the channel. ucCloud just went online with its first customer, and more were announced during the sales conference.
Another SynapS3 hosted offer is oneAgent which creates a custom, extensible agent desktop with technologies from Avaya and Virsae (the team that created the original Avaya Contact Center Express). OneAgent offers an Agent workspace, directory, enterprise presence with native connections to Lync as well as Microsoft and SAP CRMs. It leverages ArrowS3's skills and experience in Avaya, Lync, and contact centers.
The channel opportunity It is not just about great products and exceptional service, but comprehensive services and integrations. In the case of ArrowS3, that means its own offers (SynapS3) and five branches of advanced services under the Prism brand (Professional Services, Assist, Advisory, Learning, Managed Services). For example, Prism Managed Services includes OneCall (various levels and types of technical support) and OneView (managed services for Aura, Cisco, Microsoft, and more).
There's still a lot of revenue associated with products, but the margins and profits are in services. This is forcing some relearning and revised processes - for example, design services used to be free (subsidized by hardware), but are increasingly a billable service now. ArrowS3 doesn't sell Lync licenses, so it's Lync practice is focused completely on complementary components, and the primary opportunity lies in design, implementation, applications, and integration services.
Despite consumerization and the simplification of cloud services, tremendous opportunity remains within the UC channel. It was impressive to hear the presenters discuss the services and know-how associated with software integrations, contact center improvements, management systems, BYOD, Lync design, and even legacy extension - to name just a few.
The UC term may be slippery, but the demand and requirements are real. Success in the UC channel requires dedication and focus - kind of like success in the Olympics. UC demand for channel services is there, just be sure that the boxes aren't blocking the view.