Spectralink Sees Continued Channel Growth One Year After Polycom Split

As the one-year mark after breaking away from former owner Polycom approaches, enterprise mobile communications company Spectralink speaks out about reshaping its identity in the industry and bringing 100 percent of its business through the channel.

Originally founded in 1990, Spectralink was purchased by Polycom in 2007 for $220 million. Upon its departure from Polycom, Spectralink was sold to investment firm Sun Capital Partners for $110 million.

The deal was closed in December 2012, and, according to Simon Watson, director of OEM and global alliances at Spectralink, the "challenges that [Spectralink] had under [its] previous ownership have now completely gone away. We are now positioned as wireless experts."

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Spectralink was primarily delivering up VoIP products and solutions to the enterprise space when it was bought up in 2007. Years later, it is competing with a full portfolio of wireless solutions, of which voice technology is only a small part.

"We have gone from selling dial tone to selling devices with higher vertical applications," Watson said. "Voice is still in there, but it seems to be a smaller priority."

Spectralink focuses on the health-care, retail and manufacturing verticals among which health care is the largest portion of its business, Watson said.

In the process of bulking up its channel once again, Spectralink has 300 resellers worldwide registered to the partner access site, 2,000 individually trained sales men and women, and 60 tier-two support certified partners. Watson said the goal is to reach 150 tier-two partners by the end of 2014.

The company is looking for partners that "understand you have to get the right device to the right users" Watson said, adding that "[Spectralink is] more focused on systems integrators who understand process, who understand business applications."

In the face of the BYOD movement that has taken a stronghold in industries everywhere, Watson said Spectralink trains its partners to recommend problem-solving devices based upon the challenges that end users face in the workplace.

"For some, it's a headset, for some, a smartphone, for others like a specialist or a doctor or a surgeon, they probably want something more like a tablet." Watson said. "For Spectralink's users that only work on-site, they need a ruggedized, industrial manufactured device in which batteries can be charged and changed easily. It's all about positioning and helping our business partners find the right way to put the right devices in the hands of customers."

NEXT: Partner Calls Spectralink Solution 'Reinvigorated'

John Mattis, president and CEO of Spectracom Group, a Spectralink partner based in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., that has more than 50 health-care customers across the country, said the Spectralink solution has been "reinvigorated" since the company's break away from Polycom.

"They are coming up with ideas and concepts where they are blending practices [users] are becoming accustomed to with their personal devices and also looking at the IT requirements as far as the durability needed for a device built for a hospital," Mattis said.

"They have done a great job of creating solutions that are about 90 percent what the customer asked for and 10 percent of what they think the customer will need," Mattis added. "They are not just completely responsive, but are a little bit proactive because they know the customer so well."

In addition to the integrity of Spectralink hardware, Mattis praised its ability to support partners.

"On the human resource side, they have a ton of assets that have a lot of relationships within health care. They also have a great deal of technical support that we are able to access. They work really well with our team," Mattis said.

When it comes to ROI, Watson said partners are on average able to wrap around $5 to $7 in services with every unit of hardware sold. A midsize hospital, for instance, could be outfitted with anywhere between 500 and 700 devices on site.

Besides the ability to make money on the hardware, of which some pieces can run between $1,400 and $1,500, Spectralink's Watson said, with hardware also comes the benefit of managing the wireless infrastructure.

One of Spectraink's biggest bragging points is being the only enterprise mobile solutions company qualified by Microsoft to integrate directly with Microsoft Lync, allowing products to operate Lync natively, without the use of a gateway.

In addition, Spectralink partners enjoy the ability to work directly with the Microsoft Lync team and are offering customized solutions around Lync on Spectralink devices, according to Watson.

"It's almost like a Trojan horse. Hiding behind these devices that deliver all kinds of ROI to the business markets, there is a huge pull-through to business services," Watson said.

Spectralink expects to make more announcements regarding its relationship with Microsoft Lync early next week.