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Intermedia Goes Global With NEC Deal Sparking Opportunities Worth Billions, Says CEO

Intermedia is partnering with telecom equipment giant NEC Corp. to combine NEC's deskphones with cloud UC and contact center solutions, just in time to help homebound businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Intermedia CEO Michael Gold said.

Business communications provider Intermedia, along with its partners, has been busy powering up small and midsized companies with cloud-based phone, video and collaboration solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's why a partnership with a market-leading business phone provider couldn't have come at a better time, Intermedia CEO Michael Gold told CRN.

Intermedia at the end of April inked a partnership with Japanese telecom equipment maker NEC Corp. that pairs NEC's global reach and popular deskphone offerings with Intermedia's cloud-based unified communications (UC) and contact center solutions.

Gold said that together with NEC, the two companies are targeting 80-120 million seats globally. "We're talking about over $20 billion of annual revenue opportunity here. It's a huge, game-changing opportunity for Intermedia," he said.

[Related: Intermedia Launches 'Holy Grail' Combined UCaaS, CCaaS: Exclusive]

NEC saw the world moving to the cloud and tried to turn one of its legacy, server-based products into a "pseudo-cloud solution" by hosting it in a virtual server and adding SIP trucks, but it couldn't compete with born-in-the-cloud solutions, Gold said.

Intermedia, which has always done most of its business through its channel of more than 6,500 partners, is known for its white-label selling motion, the most popular of the three business models in which Intermedia goes to market with its partners. The white-label option has been available since 2007 and lets MSPs own the relationship with the end customer by setting their own prices and handling billing and support. The joint NEC/Intermedia cloud-based portfolio will be NEC-branded, but the underlying product will be Intermedia's full suite of phone, videoconferencing, contact center, mobile app, chatting, and file-sharing and backup offerings, Gold said.

Intermedia in 2019 added contact center as a service (CCaaS) to its repertoire of business cloud communications solutions to fill the last gap in its product suite, Gold told CRN in August.

"We're working with NEC to covert as much of its user base as possible to our cloud-based solutions," he said.

NEC, which will be responsible for the sales, marketing and support of the joint solutions, is also relying on its massive, global channel to sell the new offerings, Gold said.

Intermedia's communication offerings are "essential services" and the firm has been helping its base of SMB customers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Gold said.

Intermedia, which does the majority of its business in the U.S., said that March and April were the best months for sales it’s ever had for UCaaS and CCaaS.

"Business running on legacy phone systems are toast in this situation with everyone working from home," Gold said. "In those cases, we have been able to rapidly help many customers move to cloud solutions, almost overnight."

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