Fostering Greater Collaboration Between Telecom and IT

Expert Blog

Despite years of discussions and collaboration between the telecom and IT industries, the two communities are still leaving “money on the table.” Both own their core audience, but their attempts to merge service offerings often lead to misperceptions and unforeseen challenges that can prevent the formation of mutual, valued and trustworthy relationships. Each community has leaders who are not only willing to acknowledge that critical communications gaps and other issues exist between the groups, but continue to knock down any and all obstacles in their way. If successful, the end result would benefit all involved with increased revenue and a more comprehensive services portfolio for their mutual end customers.

Some may ask why greater collaboration is necessary. Quite simply, it comes down to audience, bandwidth and capabilities. Solution providers control a tremendous amount of the SMB space, while carriers have a lot of influence over many larger organizations. If the two communities could come together in a much more collaborative fashion, the potential sales and solution opportunities would grow exponentially. Every group involved in these relationship would have a vital role to play in this expansion, including TEM providers and master agents.

Regardless of which alliance model your company follows, the CompTIA Telecom Advisory Council is trying to improve the value and success of these types of connections. The group consists of executives from a number of carriers and cable providers, master agents, and converged partners, who collaborate on a variety of industry initiatives each year. Their discussions at the recent CompTIA Annual Members Meeting helped move several of these projects forward, including their plans for a comprehensive telecom channel summit in 2015.

Enhance the IT and Telco Discussions

Since the industry already has a number of beneficial events on tap this year, the TAC plan calls for bringing a Carrier Summit to ChannelCon 2015 to bolster collaboration between the communities. If everything goes as planned, the gathering will also provide an educational path for those wanting to learn more about ways to engage IT partners. With similar missions and synergistic membership bases, the Telecom Channel Association and CompTIA make perfect partners. Council members believe a combined effort between the two organizations will improve communications and expose a wider audience to each community. TCA will co-brand and lend tremendous support in all aspects of planning and execution, including a proposed separate breakout for Channel executives. With the leadership and membership of both associations on board, this is sure to be the “must attend” event for professionals of each community.

That’s great news for solution providers looking for more engagement options with the telecom and cable industries. The goal of the combined event is to foster those types of discussions, reducing the barriers to entry and clarifying the myths and mysteries that exist between the communities. Industry executives will discuss the virtues of adding telecom and the risks to partners that don’t offer these business-critical services.

For example, unless a channel partner understands the provisioning process, working with carriers can be a scary proposition. What do solution providers fear the most about working with telco and cable companies (and vice-versa)? TAC members outlined a few of those concerns at AMM, including the potential loss of account control, unfamiliar regulations, industry language barriers and questions about compensation models.

In order to build a valued partnership between IT and telco, you have to start with a clear understanding of each party’s responsibilities. Who has a stake in which processes and which organization takes the lead? That discussion can be difficult for many newcomers, even when following the advice of their peers. While resources such as the CompTIA Quick Start Guide to Telecom and IT Partnerships can help, the channel will truly benefit from more education and training materials and an overall greater industry discussion.

What the TCA and CompTIA proposed won’t break down all the barriers, but it certainly can improve the environment and the collaborative opportunities. The combined power of two organizations driving good content is sure to open a few new doors.

This post is by: Shana Holloway, Manager, Industry Partnerships, CompTIA.