8x8 Execs Are Building Up Channel Efforts At ‘Warp Speed’

8x8 has its sights set on aggressive growth and is charting a course to that growth by boosting Unified- Communications-as-a-Service sales through the indirect channel, 8x8's channel executives told CRN.

8x8's channel business is now being run by two former CenturyLink channel executives. Bill Corbin joined the company in April as senior vice president of channels and alliances. John Delozier, former CenturyLink channel chief, in June came over to run 8x8's channel program as its vice president of channels.

The company has historically done the majority of its business direct, with the channel contributing about 30 percent of sales. By the end of the third quarter, however, 8x8 will have grown its sales through the channel by 50 percent year over year, with seven of its top 10 U.S. deals being assisted by channel partners.

From there, Corbin wants to grow indirect sales even further, he told CRN.

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"In order for us to achieve our goals and objectives, the channel is the only way," he said.

[Related: 8x8 Acquires MarianaIQ To Inject AI Into Cloud UC, Contact Center Solutions]

8x8 has had a channel program in place for years but executives say it lacked structure. The San Jose, Calif.-based company has been working to "up it channel game," and to that end, has brought on the right executives and partners to get to the next level.

8x8 is ramping up its channel through several different groups of partners. The company in 2018 unveiled partnerships with several nationwide IT distributors, including Ingram Micro, Jenne and ScanSource. The company also grew its business through its relationships with U.S.-based master agents, including Avant, Intelisys, TBI and Telarus.

In September, 8x8 unveiled a new partnership with PlanetOne, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based master agent that jumped into the cloud early. PlanetOne, Delozier said, is an example of a strategic partner that is willing to invest in UCaaS.

DeLozier, 8x8's new channel chief, has been creating the right kind of velocity that is allowing the company to build out its indirect sales efforts at "warp speed," Corbin said.

"I asked [DeLozier] to join and really pour a bunch of gasoline into the master/sub arena while we stand up our distributor/VAR business," he said.

Channel partners largely dominate the midmarket and the low-end enterprise space. UCaaS is now on the priority list of many midmarket businesses, which makes solution providers very well-suited as a sales channel for UCaaS solutions. And for partners, the UCaaS opportunity is tremendous, DeLozier said.

"UCaaS is a $50 billion industry that's still very much untapped. Folks that understand UC, contact center, and collaboration, why not just pick it up and put it in the cloud? We think there is a huge opportunity," he said.

8x8 in July made its X Series, a cloud platform that combines voice, video, collaboration and contact center, generally available. 8x8 differentiates itself in the UCaaS market by providing all homegrown technology offerings as part of its UCaaS portfolio, rather than partnering with third-party providers, channel executives said.