Mitel on Monday rolled out a new channel accreditation program that according to the vendor will more tightly align partners with Mitel's own sales strategy, as well as reward partners who promote their specialties.
Dubbed the Technical Accreditation Program (TAP), it allows Mitel partners to achieve designations as a Mitel Virtualized Voice Specialist, a Mitel Mobility Specialist, a Mitel Contact Center Specialist or a Mitel Unified Communications Specialist.
TAP is optional for partners in Mitel's existing Partner Program, and when they're accredited, they receive specific marketing and branding resources relevant to the category, explained Bob Anderson, Mitel's vice president, U.S. channel marketing. Accreditation also allows Mitel to more easily recognize and promote the work of those partners in particular categories, he added.
Unique to TAP, as opposed to other vendor accreditation programs, is that Mitel recognizes certifications achieved from other vendors with whom its products and platforms can be integrated, such as VMware or Research In Motion.
A Mitel Virtualized Voice specialist VAR, for example, would have staff members accredited with not only Mitel, but also VMware, and network credentials with a Cisco or a Juniper.
"Our channel partners work with multiple vendors and we recognize that," Anderson said. "A CCNA [Cisco Certified Network Associate] would satisfy a requirement for specialization, for example. The CCNA certification is widely recognized by the industry, and we don't want to eclipse that. This isn't just a Mitel curriculum of certifications."
Solution providers who receive the accreditation are also required to provide two customer testimonials after a six-month period to help build business cases. Anderson said that accreditation will eventually lead to product discounts, leads and other partner advantages as the program grows, and Mitel will also add specializations for vertical industires.
"It's a new type of branding to take to the marketplace relative to their solution or technical competencies," Anderson said. "Being an authorized partner with vendor XYZ may or may not resonate with an end user. But being a mobility specialist or contact center specialist that can integrate with others might have more meaning."
"We're seeing a lot more teaming as the channel partner ecosystem is changing," he said. "The partners we're working with, sometimes they have backgrounds in the software arena and they want to work with networking partners. The specialist designations can validate what complementary technologies they have."
The TAP is the first of several changes and additions to the Mitel Partner Program this year, Anderson said. Mitel on Monday also unveiled a Virtualized Datacenter Accreditation program for data center, Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers selling Mitel's voice and UC applications.
The channel program additions come amid broader changes for Mitel, which named a new CEO, RIchard McBee, in mid-January. The company has staked much of its growth in UC and the networking channel to Freedom, a UC architecture, debuted in November, that delivers communications and collaboration applications via a cloud-based software stream.