Posted on 03/01/2012
Specialist aggregators are emerging in an increasingly data centric world where the focus is on quality and service as well as choice. In recent years Nimans has evolved into a growing force in the network services arena but its role as an aggregator is taking on a more specialist dimension.
“One of the major developments that has taken place in recent times concerns education and the training of resellers,” says Nimans’ Head of Networks, Mark Curtis-Wood. “That’s an area of ultimate focus because there are resellers that understand they need to make a change into new and emerging markets but they are not always sure how to bridge the skills gap. One benefit of being an aggregator is we can assess multiple different suppliers and take the best of breed products and services as part of a trusted advocate approach.”
Mark continued: “It’s about providing complete unbiased reseller advice. The same analogy can be used in the traditional comms sector where there’s an on-going battle between hosted telephony and traditional PBX hardware. We assess this from a completely neutral perspective so that resellers can make an informed choice. Ultimately it’s the same with networks where our objective is to help dealers make the right decisions so that they can offer their customers an informed choice, without any pressure. By definition non aggregators are limited with choice so they will only push their viewpoint so there’s a danger the customer will only get a one dimensional picture.”
Mark says the whole market has gone through cycles. “I would say overall there are less aggregators than in the past. People have had a wide plethora of choice, then they have become specialist and now what we are seeing is the emergence of specialist aggregators with key core skills. That’s what we are doing in 2012. We are consolidating suppliers to focus on best of breed around customer service. If you look at what is happening in the broadband market right now, it’s seen as a commoditised product, a bit cheap and cheerful, where margins are generally low, and from aggregator’s point of view you need high volumes of business.
“We are moving away from that model to focus on high quality products and services that can be bundled with other technologies such as video conferencing, Software As A Service and VoIP. Being an aggregator, that’s part of the distribution arena, puts us in an even stronger position because we understand where many different elements of the market are heading and how they interact between each other.”
Mark concluded: “The challenge for resellers is to ensure they have the capability and capacity to deliver everything their customers require. Often resellers do not have the resource or knowledge to sell the complete range of solutions. They’ve got the depth of relationship with their clients but they don’t always have all the tools in the bag to deliver what is needed. In reality most resellers will struggle to gain the best commercial rates through direct relationships with network providers simply because they don’t deliver enough volumes of business. That’s where aggregators really come into their own. We can source the best commercial products in the market, which for complex solutions could come from a couple of different suppliers.
“From our point of view we are making a lot of progress in this sector. Resellers trust us, based on long term relationships of up to 30 years. We are financially very secure and have a diverse mix of resellers with different skill sets and levels of ability.
“Not all networks are the same. If the right resilience isn’t there from the start then everything else will fall apart. Ultimately a business could come to stand still. Aggregators have a very key role to play. It’s not just about providing the cheapest solution, but providing the right solution.”