NWN Steps Up 'Phone Company Of Future' March With Acquisition of Cisco Contact Center Superstar Collabramind

NWN, one of the top cloud-based VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) providers in the country, has stepped up its march to be the "phone company of the future" by acquiring Collabramind, LLC, a small, highly respected Cisco contact center specialist.

The deal gives NWN, which has invested millions of dollars in building out a scalable VoIP and UC platform over the last five years, the engineering talent to provide a more robust cloud-based contact center service for enterprise customers.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: NWN Sells Majority Stake To Private Equity Firm, Sets Sights On Becoming Billion-Dollar Cloud Power]

"This is the next step in our 'phone company of the future' strategy," said NWN CEO Mont Phelps. "It rounds out our offerings so we can compete more effectively against the telcos and it provides us with the talent to connect the contact center to the customer database. That's a huge deal. Everybody is talking about recurring revenue, but we are doing it. We have been relentless with one step after another to drive cloud sales."

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Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

That contact center database expertise is going to be critical as NWN customers develop digital strategies building tight links to their customers via a cloud-based unified communications platform, said Phelps.

"Nobody wants to run their own phone system," said Phelps. "This gives us the ability to control the whole customer experience from the wiring closet to the contact center to the end user. It's a complete unified communications platform with contact center, Cisco Telepresence, voice mail, instant messenger."

Dallas-based Collabramind, which has 10 engineers with deep cloud-based contact center expertise, is one of an elite group of Cisco partners with Cisco Unified Contact Center Expertise. Among the Collabramind certifications: Cisco Collaboration, Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Voice, CCNP Routing and Switching and Cisco Advanced Collaboration Architecture and Advanced Video Specialization certifications.

NWN and Collabramind have already been working together over the last year on enterprise based call center deals, said Phelps.
Now that it has a more robust cloud-based contact center offering it will move quickly to add sales and marketing talent to fuel even more dramatic growth in the cloud-based VoIP and UC market, said Phelps.

Collabramind was started in 2013 by Mohit Bawa, a former director of Cisco Collaboration Technical Services for Presidio, a Cisco solution provider behemoth, and Kyle Dziubinski, a former owner of Cisco Unified Communications provider Extreme UC Consulting.

The deal with Collabramind comes just one year after NWN, No. 68 on the 2016 CRN SP500, with $350 million in sales at that time, sold a majority stake to private equity company New State Capital Partners as part of a plan to become a $1 billion cloud provider.

The private equity participation has helped fuel the growth of NWN's NCloud hosted VoIP service, disrupting telecom giants with a highly customized, cloud-based service.

One sign of NWN's cloud prowess is the company's status as the only systems integrator going head-to-head against the likes of AT&T and Verizon as a voice and data services provider for the state of California public utilities under the CALNET 3 government contract.

Another big NWN differentiator: the launch several months ago of a new entity called NCapital, which is aimed at providing the financial muscle and technology know-how for customers to move to the cloud without making capital expenditures.

With NCapital, NWN is funding, selling and supporting cloud services and solutions on its balance sheet – opening the door for customers to embrace an operating expenditure-based cloud transformation with a trusted partner.

With the cloud-based market moving at lightning speed, Phelps said it is going to be difficult for companies that have not made significant investments. "This is like a bullet train," he said. "Those that aren't already on board are going to have trouble catching up."