AT&T Channel Chief: 'It's All About Enablement Of The Channel'


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Six months ago, AT&T revealed it was bringing its three separate channel models -- AT&T Partner Exchange, ACC Business and AT&T Alliance Channel -- under one roof. Now, the carrier is bringing its partners together for one massive event in 2018.

AT&T's ongoing channel evolution isn't just centered around a new event, however. The carrier has been hard at work bringing together the best parts of each program into one unified, channel program for solution providers, Zee Hussain, AT&T's channel chief, told CRN.

"We are going big with our indirect strategy, so pooling resources is just another step in doubling down on the channel," Hussain said in an interview.

[Related: Partner Exchange Milestone: AT&T Tells Partners To Keep An Eye On IoT, Fiber Opportunities]

AT&T announced Fusion by AT&T Partner Solutions last week. Fusion, an event that will take place Nov. 5-7 in the carrier's home city of Dallas, will include keynote sessions by channel and technology leaders, as well as breakout sessions. The show will take the place of AT&T's Partner Exchange (APEX) event for its solution provider partners, as well as its Alliance Channel event for agent partners. Fusion, however, will offer breakout sessions with content that specifically targets APEX and Alliance partners, Hussain said.

ACC Business, AT&T's "boutique" channel program, which offers only core networking and voice solutions to agent sales partners, has its own annual event called ACC Business Club Unlimited, which will remain a standalone event.

"We questioned whether we'd be better off combining the two events, or if there were still enough differences where we'd want to continue doing them separately. The overwhelming answer was a vehement yes, we absolutely should combine the events. We want this to be additive, and not take anything away," Hussain said.

Hussain and his team have spent the last six months evaluating the marketing plans for each of the programs to see which elements stand out. The channel team also evaluated resources and tools that its direct sellers were using, and is now giving partners access to those tools for the first time, he said.

For the Alliance Channel, AT&T is giving those partners custom contracts and specialized pricing so agents won't have to spend time creating contracts and getting deals done quicker, Hussain said.  Partners can also choose to partner with AT&T's direct sales team dedicated to Alliance partners for processing and project management, he added.

APEX partners, AT&T's reseller program, should expect continued "nonstop" investment in tooling, ranging from opening up the latest APIs to these solution providers, to resources such as AT&T's new IoT Playbook. The IoT Playbook, introduced last week, is packed with use cases and a practical path for partners to selling IoT solutions.

Many solution providers today are intrigued with the idea of starting their own IoT practices, but have little or no experience with the technology, Hussain said.

"The Playbook is really for [a partner] that has a high amount of interest in the IoT business, but doesn't quite know how to do it yet," he said.

For AT&T right now, it's all about enablement of the indirect channel, he said. "It's really about making things faster, efficient, and frictionless as possible."

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