AT&T Partners Weigh In On Carrier's Program Additions

AT&T took the "everything is bigger in Texas" trope to heart this week, promoting five of its latest program additions for channel partners at the second annual AT&T Partner Exchange Summit in Dallas. Based on feedback from its solution provider partners, the latest offerings are all aimed to help partners build their recurring revenue streams and bring more value to their end-customer relationships.

In the true spirit of AT&T's Partner Exchange ecosystem, if the carrier's portfolio doesn't have what a solution provider is looking for, AT&T can help fix them up with a Partner Exchange provider that does, said Brooks McCorcle, president of AT&T Partner Solutions, in an interview with CRN at the Summit.

The new offering of Network Operations Center as a Service (NOC) gives partners the ability to collaborate with third-party providers offering white-labeled network monitoring services. This program will allow new partners, as well as existing partners, to scale up their networking needs as needed, McCorcle said.

"Partners can look at this and say, 'before we commit the dollars to build a 24/7 NOC, train the staff and monitor everything, let's outsource it to someone who does that as their business in a white-label fashion," she said. "NOC as a service could be a nice way to expand during the times [partners] need to grow."

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[Related: What To Expect At This Year's AT&T Partner Exchange Summit]

The offering currently includes two providers offering NOC as a Service through Partner Exchange for solution providers. Creative Technology Partners, an Atlanta-based solution provider and one of the first partners to join AT&T's Partner Exchange program when it was launched three years ago, is one. Creative Technology Partners currently manages more than 22,000 different customer sites and has nearly 30 network engineers on staff, said Mike Champion, executive vice president for the solution provider.

"Offering our network operations as a service will be an opportunity for folks within the AT&T Partner exchange to use a proven platform that has referenceable clients and may help them accelerate their sales cycle," Champion said. "At the end of the day, we have the capacity and bandwidth to help others."

As of August, partners have had access to the AT&T's Marketing as a Service offering, another service that pairs solution providers with third-party providers within Partner Exchange – who are vetted by AT&T -- that provide marketing campaigns.

"If we didn't have capabilities in our product set, we have introduced those functions with some key players in the industry that we know are really good at it -- it's almost like being a matchmaker," McCorcle said. "AT&T isn't in the middle of that relationship. It's up to the solution provider to say 'Yes, I need that and I'm going to go talk to them.'"

Creative Technology Partners plans to take advantage of Marketing as a Service, Champion said. "Now that we are selling directly to enterprise clients, we need collateral that is very professional, on-brand both for AT&T and for us, to present the right image," he said.

AT&T's network of nearly 400 solution provider partners can now take advantage of the Mobility Employee Sponsorship Program, an offering that was initially rolled out to a select group of AT&T partners last year. This offering lets solution providers pass along wireless service discounts to their customers, an incentive that's helping solution providers close deals, partners said.

"That one is a much faster sales cycle for us - there are very few reasons to not sign onto that if you are a decision-maker in a company," Creative Technology Partners' Champion said.

Berkeley, Calif.-based DataXoom, a solution provider focusing on mobility solutions, is another AT&T partner that has seen success with the Mobility Employee Sponsorship program right out of the gate, said Rob Chamberlin, co-founder and executive vice president of DataXoom.

"Letting customers know we can extend an AT&T discount to their employees and their families is another way we can be in front on the customer and it’s a valuable benefit," he said.

AT&T is also making its Order Status Tool widely available to the channel, an offering solution providers can use to view and track status updates on their end customer orders 24/7.

"It’s a nice enhancement for project management to be able to communicate with customers on a daily basis if needed as to where their order is in the provisioning process," Champion said.

Network Services Solutions, a telecom service provider that sells a high volume of AT&T voice and data circuits, meets with its team of internal AT&T Partner Exchange team members to go through the orders -- a call that takes a couple of hours each week, said Tim Yager, vice president of sales for Network Services Solutions' central territory.

"This is a really great step forward for [Partner Exchange]," Yager said. "This new tool is eliminating a lot of that time, freeing up AT&T [employees] and our employees. And now, if a customer has a question, our implementation team can use that tool to give them a quicker answer."

The new Enablement Playbook introduced this month is an interactive, self-service guide for partners to explore various Partner Exchange Resources in one place. The playbook will be particularly helpful for partners looking to get started with a particular program within Partner Exchange, or build on the strategy they might already have in place, said Sue Galvanek, vice president of marketing, pricing and product solutions for AT&T's Partner Exchange program.

"We've taken all the things they need to know and how to operate in our program, and put it in one place," Galvanek said. The playbook contains contact information, process flows, and how-to-videos, she said.

"This used to take lots of phone calls and lots of training sessions. We'll still help any partner, but this gives them one place to go. It helps new solution providers coming on board get up to speed much faster, and for providers who have been in the program a while and maybe haven't done some part of the process, they can go right to the playbook," Galvanek said.