British Telecom Pours Resources Into U.S. Cloud Services Channel


British Telecom is in the midst of a major U.S. channel blitz, staked to the idea that it can more than double its SMB conferencing channel revenue here over the next two to three years on the back of cloud services offerings such as video managed services.

The overall conferencing reseller market opportunity is in the range of $450 million to $600 million, according to data from British Telecom (BT). BT Conferencing is the division that covers the $29 billion telecom giant's audio, Web, streaming and videoconferencing services.

Ken Velten, who oversees BT Conferencing's U.S. channel relationships as vice president of business development, said BT Conferencing's three-year-old U.S. channel program has been successful because it was built to avoid channel conflict.

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"Our direct sales force is limited to the enterprise market, really the Fortune 500 and above," Velten told CRN. "The SMB market is where we let our partners hunt and prospect and also where we see a lot of the players in the collaboration space really kind of competing with their channel partners. We've been successful because we've restricted where our direct sales force goes."

BT currently has 10 U.S.-based channel partners, including systems integrators, CLECs and telecom service providers. It intends to add more, Velten said, and part of its U.S. channel blitz is a recruitment campaign. Behind that, he explained, are recent management changes at BT Conferencing -- including the promotion of Tim Passingham, previously vice president of BT Conferencing for EMEA, to the role of general manager, BT Conferencing Americas -- and an influx of resources to the U.S. channel. Jeff Prestel, who was previously general manager and CEO of the Americas unit, was named CEO of BT Conferencing a year ago but left the company a few months back.

"After three years, we're finally getting the recognition from London to blow this out," Velten said.

Video managed services in particular have become a hot pursuit for top A/V integrators and video-focused solution providers such as Tampa, Fla.-based AVI-SPL, Eatontown, N.J.-based Yorktel and Hauppauge, N.Y.-based IVCi, in addition to global integrators such as Dimension Data.

Solution providers, Velten said, are helping customers maximize their video investments via tools that let them better understand their utilization rate and optimize their infrastructure for, say, mobile video.

BT Conferencing has continued to build what it can offer for services, including a long-held alliance with Cisco, with which it carries a Master Unified Communications specialization. It's no small investment, said Velten, who said BT has spent "eight figures" to build a broad portfolio of services, from mobile video to "meet-me"-type applications.

Velten said there will be more partner program incentives added in the coming months and what BT is doing right now is looking at how to dedicate resources -- including account management and services delivery tools -- to the U.S. piece. Before, BT Conferencing had a shared resource pool for its various geographies.

"I would say we're going to be doubling [resources] in this account area in the next six to 12 months," he said. "We need to have dedicated resources within BT that understand our channel partners and are empowered and enabled to help our partners."