Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is urging partners to ‘think differently’ as the vendor ramps up its local cloud strategy in an effort to up the battle against Cisco and Microsoft in the enterprise communications space.
The company is promising ‘a lot more activity’ around managing its channel, including introducing co-opetition partnerships, a move to be more vertically aligned and new, innovative commercial models ‘to change the way customers buy from us’.
The changes come off the back of the appointment of Steve Saunders to the newly created role of director of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Cloud Services for Australia and New Zealand.
Saunders will be responsible for developing and driving the company’s cloud strategy and advancing it as a ‘major cloud player in enterprise communications solutions and services’.
While Saunders says there are no plans to grow the local channel beyond Cogent at the moment, he is looking to ‘bring partners to work with Cogent’.
Key among those opportunities is the chance for major carriers and other partners to begin bundling some of what Cogent is doing, he says.
“It will broaden their sales coverage, if you like and give them a far stronger and wider coverage service, allow them to bundle with WAN and SIP services, if that is what the customer is looking for.”
Saunders says a key focus will be developing business solutions and commercial models that tailor cloud services for specific industries, including hospitality, education, health and government.
“What we will do with Cogent is look to either take them into verticals directly, where they are strong, or alternatively start to partner them with someone who has a strong reputation or brand in a vertical Cogent is not currently working with.
“They can then take the Cogent offering into that vertical market.”
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s OpenTouch Enterprise Cloud is a mid-market offering providing full unified communications/telephony/contact centre platform.
“We know the competition, being Cisco and Microsoft, dominate,” Saunders says.
“Their brands are very strong and global, so if we want to compete with them we have got to find verticals where we can be stronger than they are.”
He says part of that push into new verticals will be building business models that are more relevant to customers in those verticals.
The company has already worked with Accor Hotel Group and developed a commercial model which sees Accor paying on a per occupied room rate.
“So they only pay for the telephone service when the room is occupied, and when it’s not occupied, they don’t pay for it,” Saunders says.
“This comes back to our vision to change the way customers buy from us, and it also allows us to share the technology investment risk with both our partner and our customer. If the customer’s business flourishes, they pay more and if they suffer a downturn, they pay less.
“Our competitors typically [require] the business partners to invest the money in the cloud platform and take that risk out to their customer and flex and scale it.”
Saunders says while hospitality is a key focus, the company is also ‘well aligned’ to the aged care sector and is talking with them – along with several other industries – about creating commercial models aligned to their businesses.
“What is their KPI, how do they measure the success or otherwise of their business, and how should your technology investment be aligned to the key KPI of their business,” Saunders says.
“If we continue to go to the market saying, ‘we’ve got wonderful technology and you should buy it’, it’s a fast track to nowhere.
“We have to go out and recognise the challenges our business partners and customers have and what I’m challenging them to do is think differently about the business models we take to them.”