Posted on 01/10/2012
More resellers are taking greater control and ownership of their network infrastructure to fuel growth in next generation access and its associated applications and services. That’s the view of Nimans, a managed service provider that has evolved from aggregator status.
Head of Networks, Mark Curtis-Wood, says staying in control helps dealers preserve customer relationships, enhance business reputations and inspire greater all-round confidence.
“The high speed network is there,” he says. “The key for a reseller is about what you are going to put down that connectivity and how much ownership you have. In the past resellers never had control of the network or the ability to have any control over the quality of service. The difference between being an aggregator and a managed service provider is about delivering an advantage. Can your supplier see the router and what’s going on that circuit and diagnose an issue before it actually happens? This is where the market is heading.
“For example at Nimans we now have network monitoring equipment so that we can diagnose any potential problems straight away. Ultimately it’s about maintaining quality of service for our resellers.
“It’s not a question of the network being ready, because clearly it is. The question for a reseller to ask is: Is the company you are buying a product from able to fully support the network offering? There are fluctuations in quality that need to be recognised.”
Mark continued: “If a reseller delivers a new data service to a customer he has a great relationship with, how does he know it will exceed expectations because he has no real visibility of it? With a telephone system he will know if it is working. ISDN is the same and mobile to a degree. But with a data network it is completely different. The only time he will know is when a customer comes on to complain and then he is in a reactive mode. The reseller will generally go back to the aggregator who will go back to someone else and then someone else. It’s obviously better for a reseller to shorten that chain and know the people they are buying it off have control.
“A lot of aggregators are just selling on someone else’s product and aren’t necessarily proactively managing that relationship. There’s a danger relationships can be eroded. That’s the risk being run and I think it’s why certain resellers don’t get involved with SIP, Ethernet or EFM because they have concerns that their own reputation is at risk.
“For us it’s important to be the conduit between the reseller and supplier, delivering a better service. We understand the value of managing the ‘pipe’ going into someone’s premises.
“Resellers need to identify they are buying from the right suppliers, not just based purely on price. As bandwidth becomes more accessible it becomes more commoditised and there’s the temptation for some of the suppliers to start outsourcing elements - that in the past they wouldn’t have done - to drive the cost down. This can lead to a deterioration in service that ultimately the reseller is responsible for. They should work with trusted advisors who have multiple supplier relationships and deliver the right quality of service for the money they are paying.”
Building a strong and resilient network infrastructure is one of the most important aspects of today’s converged world, as Mark concluded:
“For me it comes down to resellers painting a picture for their customers. It’s about addressing the ‘so what’ factor. How does that relate to me as a business? I think the big bit that many seem to be missing at the moment is that they do not fully understand what the client needs. In some cases they don’t know themselves.
“Next Generation Access provides the ability for users to take advantage of some of today’s bandwidth hungry applications. It provides the capability to do more, quicker. It’s important for resellers to think carefully about what their customers are trying to achieve and understand the key technical implications and requirements of different technologies so that the correct access medium is deployed. It can appear to be a minefield and a daunting prospect but don’t be put off.
“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 volume of business.
“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 a stand still. From a reseller’s perspective it’s not just about providing the cheapest solution, but providing the right solution.”