CenturyLink: Cloud, Channel Empowerment Top 2013 Priorities

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CenturyLink executives on Thursday pledged to grow the telecom giant's percentage of channel revenue from 15 percent to 30 percent within the next five years -- all part of a plan to empower partners as CenturyLink doubles down in hot markets like cloud.

Kicking off CenturyLink's annual Alliance Expo conference in Denver, Blake Wetzel, vice president of sales for CenturyLink Channel Alliance, said CenturyLink had a record year in 2012. Now that the company has digested major acquisitions like Qwest and Savvis, it will focus on channel priorities like ease of doing business and growing market share with the help of partners.

Wetzel told about 500 assembled CenturyLink partners that the telecom provider won more than 50 percent of opportunities brought in by the channel in the past year.

"It's because we turned the conversation into responding to what you asked for, and helping you design what you needed," he said.


[Related: 10 Telecom Predictions For 2013]

Jim Ousley, Savvis' CEO and president of CenturyLink's Enterprise Markets Group, said CenturyLink has become a "case study" for strong roll-ups and consolidation among telecommunications companies. CenturyLink is now well-positioned to take on markets like cloud and MPLS, both of which have large total addressable market (TAM) opportunities, he said.

But CenturyLink, which is the U.S.'s third-largest telco, needs more channel buy-in to get there, he said. Ousley stated a goal that over the next three to five years, CenturyLink will grow its channel percentage from 15 percent to 30 percent. The Savvis hosting business, in particular, has room to expand, and only does about 5 percent of its current revenue through partners.

"There's no question in CenturyLink's mind that we cannot get at these markets without strong channels," Ousley said. "We need you, and we need you to be a bigger part of our business."

That customers are embracing cloud computing technologies is no longer a question, Ousley said, but in addition to net-new business, CenturyLink has major, untapped cross-sell opportunity. The overlap in buying between CenturyLink's top 25 hosting customers and top 25 network customers isn't even 10 percent.

Ousley said CenturyLink is the right bet for partners because the breadth of its services portfolio is wider than that of major competitors.

CenturyLink plays in hosted SAP HANA, Web performance management, Web consulting, lifecycle services, application management, infrastructure solutions, facilities/colocation and network services while major competitors, from IBM, AT&T and Verizon to Terremark, Rackspace and the major systems integrators, only cover a few of those.

"There is plenty of opportunity in every market represented in this room," he told partners.

NEXT: CenturyLink's Investment Priorities

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