EarthLink's New Channel Chief Strives To Craft 'Flawless' Customer Experience Via Investments

EarthLink on Tuesday appointed its new channel chief: Olen Scott, who said he is focusing on building the company's first-ever Partner Advisory Council, creating a "flawless" experience for customers and breaking EarthLink into the top 10 of CRN's Solution Provider 500 list.

"Our greatest opportunity lives in the channel, so that's where we are going to invest in," said Scott in an interview with CRN. "We expect to experience exponential growth in the next few years and we expect it to be led in the partner channel -- that's where we're making our bet."

One of Scott's key goals as the new channel chief and vice president of channel sales, he said, is to improve the company's channel partner program through the help of its Partner Advisory Council, slated to be created later this year or in early 2016.

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"I want to learn from our partners and have our channel strategy driven by certain strategic partners and for us to learn what's important for them, so we can let partners help shape the future with EarthLink," said Scott.

Another initiative being sought by Scott is enhancing EarthLink's partner portal.

"There are significant advancements and enhancements we can make through the launching of a best-in-class partner portal they can use, not just to manage their customers, but to manage their business with EarthLink," he said.

Scott joined the Atlanta-based company, ranked No. 31 on the 2015 CRN Solution Provider 500, in 2013 as regional vice president of sales for the northern region. He was then promoted to vice president of account management, where he worked with partners to support some of EarthLink's largest enterprise customers.

What Scott is hearing from his partner community is that they want EarthLink to simply "make it easier" for them. Scott said he will try to create a "flawless experience" for his customers to help drive partner sales.

To make it easier for partners to sell, Scott said, EarthLink is reducing the number of customer touch points by about 25 percent and will invest additional resources in the company's service delivery organization.

Scott also said he "absolutely" plans to have EarthLink climb the ladder and crack the top 10 of CRN's SP 500 list within the next few years. He pointed to his company's recently launched Cloud Express solution as a way to propel EarthLink to the next level.

According to EarthLink, Cloud Express provides customers with secure connections to the public cloud. The solution builds upon private cloud solutions the company currently offers and makes it simpler for on-premise customers to transition to the cloud, the company says. The solution supports AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer and CloudSigma, while connections to Google Cloud and Microsoft Office 365 are slated for the near future.

"As we move to cloud-based solutions with the most predominant cloud-service providers like AWS and Azure, … customers have to manage infrastructure and connectivity to each one of these different cloud providers," said Scott. "So with EarthLink, we'll manage that for them."

Scott is a 20-year industry veteran, having served as vice president of strategic accounts for XO Communications, where he helped launch the company's Systems Integrator Partner Program, and also in roles in sales management at Verizon Business and MCI.

Through Scott's leadership, according to EarthLink, the company plans to take its channel partner program to the "next level" by strengthening partner collaboration, investment and support.

"Partners are the guys who can catapult us to the next level, not just as a channel, but as a business," he said.

On Aug. 3, EarthLink reported revenues at $283 million for its second quarter fiscal year 2015, down nearly 5 percent from the prior-year quarter of $297 million. EarthLink is forecasting fiscal year 2015 revenues to be between $1.07 billion to $1.09 billion.