Avi Lonstein, CEO of AireSpring, a Los Angeles-based telecommunications provider that's also partners with AT&T through the Partner Exchange program, described the program and the AT&T Emerging Business Markets Group behind it as a "startup" within AT&T.
"A startup within a company is really what this is," said Lonstein, who noted that AireSpring's AT&T revenue is on pace to double this year. "You really wouldn't even imagine it's AT&T at all."
According to McCorcle, another major differentiator in the AT&T Partner Exchange Program is the AT&T application programming interface (API) platform, which opens up AT&T APIs to give solution providers access to AT&T's core customer billing, product ordering and network monitoring systems.
The idea, McCorcle said, is that solution providers can use this platform to perform all customer billing and troubleshooting on their own, without having to directly connect with anyone from AT&T.
"It's our goal to make this program totally self-service for solution providers,"McCorcle said. "We are now over 50 percent no touch, meaning any transaction that a solution provider puts through AT&T Partner Exchange, over 50 percent of the time, nobody form AT&T even has to touch it."
Jason Porter, vice president of solutions development and business operations for AT&T Emerging Business Markets, said there are three ways solution providers can access the AT&T API platform: through a direct connection partners create from their own internal customer management system; through the AT&T partner portal; or, most recently, through Salesforce.com.
"We are a building our own portal [within Salesforce.com] that is fully API-enabled, and we are doing that because there are a large number of our partners that use Salesforce.com," Porter told CRN. "We wanted to meet [partners] where they are."
As of today, partners can leverage AT&T's API platform for the three services: the AT&T virtual private network (VPN), AT&T managed internet services and the AT&T switched Ethernet service.
Moving forward, however, the plan is to extend that platform to AT&T's software-defined networking services and mobility solutions, a move that will let solution providers proactively manage items such as customers' mobile data plans.
AireSpring's Lonstein said the AT&T API platform available through Partner Exchange has drastically reduced the amount of time it takes AireSpring to generate customer quotes.
"In the past, there has been a very difficult process trying to interact with a company like AT&T. Frankly, it was a very slow antiquated, swivel-chair process," Lonstein said. "Sometimes, just to get a quote for a multi-location opportunity, it could literally take several weeks."
"What we are seeing [now] is that we are able to process large-scale quotes in volume that are turned around in a near instantaneous basis," Lonstein continued. "It's completely taken the friction out of the process."
Bell Techlogix's D'Ambrosi said that, in addition to simplifying the customer quoting and billing process, AT&T's APIs have allowed his company to create a greater stickiness with their end customers, especially within its managed services arm.
"Allowing us to almost, in a sense, white-label the kind of solution we want to bring to the end user -- including billing and activations -- it's a huge recurring revenue opportunity for our company," D'Ambrosi said.
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