Verizon Taps Partners To Aid Global Expansion, Announces APAC Partner Program

Verizon Enterprise Solutions has unveiled plans to expand its chief partner program beyond the U.S. Following its channel program for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), the telecom provider on Monday announced a new program for channel partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

Verizon's channel business today is made up of its global systems integrator partnerships and its Verizon Partner Program (VPP), which consists of about 1,300 North American-based agent partners. In an effort to expand globally, Verizon needs a global agent channel. The new Asia/Pacific (APAC) channel program will target reseller and agent partners in Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Verizon channel chief Adam Famularo told CRN.

"My goal since Day One at Verizon was always to build up a very large channel business in new product sales. Further away from the U.S., the Verizon brand isn't as well-known, so we are in deeper need of channels to grow our foothold in the marketplace," Famularo said. "We need to have a presence overseas, and the channel is the way to do that."

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Verizon Launches First-Ever Distributor Program, Helps Partners Deepen Security Offerings]

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APAC agent partners will have access to Verizon's Partner Portal and can take advantage of the carrier's co-marketing resources, online training tools and global certifications. Partners can progress through the four membership tiers: Member, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Verizon's full portfolio of network, managed security, and cloud offerings will be rolled out little by little to EMEA and APAC channel partners, Famularo said. He didn't specify when that would begin or when it would be completed.

Verizon has been focusing its efforts on expanding its channel program globally over the past year, Famularo said. Now that the EMEA channel program is up and running, Verizon's next step is to turn its attention to APAC, and lastly, Latin America.

"EMEA is by far our biggest investment so far. We have a lot of people and marketing funds invested in it – this is the big year for EMEA to break out," he said.

Master agent Intelisys, of Petaluma, Calif., is one Verizon partner that has been supporting the carrier with its international efforts, having Verizon expand into EMEA.

Intelisys is excited about the prospect of International expansion, said Rick Ribas, senior vice president, East Region, for the master agent.

"Verizon has been a huge assert for us to get off the ground internationally," Ribas said.

Many carriers have international partners, and some even have channel programs that often aren't structured as well as U.S. channel programs are, Ribas said.

"That's how we can help – we can help add structure, processes, and procedures," he said. "There's a lot that goes into being a global company. There are a lot of rules and regulations, taxation and currency issues that have to be dealt with."

The latest channel program in the APAC region is about six months behind EMEA, Verizon's Famularo said. Verizon has a channel account management team and channel team leader in place, and marketing campaigns are being built. The APAC region's channel program already has a handful of agent partners, he said.

"My expectation is that by the end of the year, EMEA (will be) fully running, and APAC should be starting to hit its stride so that in (2017), APAC is a major contributor," he said.

Verizon is seeing interest from the partner community in overseas expansion, Famularo said. While the carrier isn't putting a cap on the number of partners, the channel strategy in each country will vary slightly. For example, a smaller country might be led by one master agent with a base of sub-agents, he said.

The technology channel is especially strong overseas, which was a factor in Verizon's decision to establish a technology channel – its freshly-minted distributor program – here in the U.S., Famularo said.

"In EMEA and APAC, there is a much bigger footprint for technology partners – much bigger than (in) the U.S.," he said.

Establishing channel programs in other countries is a benefit for solution providers located there, but it's also a plus for Verizon. Some of the partners will have brands that are more well-known than Verizon's, so partners will be able to get Verizon in to more accounts, Famularo said.

"Partners might have better local brands, but we have a better global brand, so it's really a good combination," he said.