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NWN Launches New Solution-As-A-Service Portfolio And 'Powerful' Management Platform

The solution provider is unveiling a new brand identity and a portfolio of five integrated solutions along with its Experience Management Platform, which brings advanced analytics for enabling business intelligence in real time.

Solution provider powerhouse NWN is expanding its trailblazing push into services by launching a new portfolio of solution-as-a-service offerings, complemented by a new NWN-developed management platform that provides enhanced business intelligence to customers.

Waltham, Mass.-based NWN, No. 76 on CRN's Solution Provider 500, is also launching a new brand identity as part of the rollout, which follows the arrival of enterprise technology veteran Jim Sullivan as CEO in May.

[Related: New NWN CEO Jim Sullivan Targets Hybrid Cloud, Brings 'Strong Intent' To Grow]

In business for more than two decades, NWN has been aggressively pushing to bring "as-a-service" offerings to its customers in recent years, including in areas such as device-as-a-service that are still nascent in the channel.

"There's very few people [in the channel] doing this. I'd say most are still resellers, predominantly," Sullivan said.

NWN, on the other hand, "can fully solution these environments and drive the end-to-end experience," he said. "And our view is, in order to have that full solution delivery, you have to have the management layer as well. And you have to be really focused around this environment and doing it as-a-service."

NWN has 1,300 customers in the U.S., and counts Cisco and HP Inc. among its key vendor partners.

The company's five integrated solutions are in unified communications services, managed security, contact center, device-as-a-service and advanced technology solutions.

The launch of a new portfolio of solution-as-a-service offerings will cover all of those areas and will mean working even more closely with Cisco and HP, Sullivan said.

And the debut of the NWN-developed management platform marks a move into a new area of opportunity for the solution provider, he said.

The platform enables full monitoring, provisioning and billing for a customer's environment, while also providing advanced data analytics, he said.

The platform can offer value to all areas of a customer's business with analytics and insights that can be tailored to all of the different business unit leaders, he said.

"Customers have the self-service portal to provision things, but also have real-time access to all the data in their environments," Sullivan said. “It is the biggest differentiator [for NWN].”

NWN is delivering solutions as-a-service "with a view on what is the business problem the customer is trying to solve,” he said.

Ultimately, "the customer is looking for NWN to solve the problem," Sullivan said. "In order to solve the problem you have to have the full breadth of the solution that requires the capabilities that are in the NWN Experience Management Platform.”

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, said in a statement to CRN that NWN is well positioned to help accelerate deployment of technology solutions to customers, both through its as-a-service approach and its Experience Management Platform.

“Technology-enabled service providers need to differentiate themselves with unique IP that delivers analytics, self-service, visibility and control," Duplessie said. "NWN’s new EMP is a powerful example of a layer of technology that can make a tangible difference to a customer by speeding up their processes so they can serve their customers better.”

The "killer differentiation" with the Experience Management Platform is that "everything is tied together,” Sullivan said. “And with our three data centers we are already providing fully cloud hosted, cloud tested, public cloud or on-prem private cloud.”

Sullivan formerly served as an executive at companies including EMC and IBM, and most recently was president of enterprise cloud data management firm Actifio. Among his first steps as CEO of NWN was to meet with customers and employees to ask what was working and what could use improvement.

Along with identifying a greater opportunity for NWN's management layer technology, the meetings underscored the need to focus in on NWN's five core solution areas, he said.

NWN will be delivering unified communications, security, contact center, devices and advanced technology solutions with an integrated, as-a-service approach, Sullivan said. For instance, in device-as-a-service, NWN provides laptops, desktops and tablets to customers as a subscription-based service. The devices are paired with monitoring, analytics, maintenance/support and proactive management.

In managed security, NWN leverages real-time threat data to provide everything from risk management and resolution, to metric tracking, to providing actionable security events and notifications to customers.

A key focus for NWN will be on bringing more of its integrated solutions to its existing customer base, Sullivan said. Less than 20 percent of customers have even two NWN solutions currently, and the management platform may help to demonstrate the value of adding more solutions, he said.

“Every customer has the management platform touching it, but not everyone has every service. So there is a lot of upside with the current customers,” Sullivan said.

The solution-as-a-service portfolio and management platform launch is coinciding with the debut of NWN's refreshed brand, which includes a new logo and website. The website now emphasizes NWN's focused solutions and business outcomes, with a number of customer videos and stories, Sullivan said. "A lot of customers want to learn best practices—what's working for somebody else," he said.

Andrew Gilman, head of marketing at NWN, cited a recent survey from the IPED consulting group that found that achieving strong solution provider profitability is tied to the amount of services provided rather than product resale. IPED, which is owned by CRN parent The Channel Company, found that gross margins can double for solution providers that transition to a mainly services-led model rather than a traditional resale model.

"This is the new NWN, and the brand is really about the completion of that transition," Gilman said. "The brand really reflects that transformation that we've gone through as a company."

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