Comms Vision 2021: Accelerating the future of work

A rising tide lifts all boats – but for the channel to ride the wave of growth and truly drive and benefit from the future of work requires collaboration, digital transformation and up-skilling, according to Comms Vision Platinum sponsor Alex Tempest, Managing Director, BT Wholesale.

As remote and hybrid working becomes the norm there is an increasing need for collaboration to navigate this evolution. Digital transformation has long been on the channel’s radar, but the pandemic has only accelerated it. The tools needed in this new era of hybrid working combine the best of business and human interactions. Underpinned by the best available connectivity, solutions like hosted communication platforms and advanced collaboration tools are empowering companies on their digital transformation journeys. Solutions such as our recently launched WHC Express and Broadband One – a digital phone line allowing users to make and receive calls across fixed and mobile devices, combined with fast, reliable full fibre broadband with speeds up to 1Gbps – are creating an innovative, secure, and flexible way of doing business.

This requires channel partners to expand portfolios to meet customer needs. What’s more, as new solutions enter the market, customers will look to partners for advice on what their needs are, and how to roll solutions out. That means the channel ecosystem needs to work closely together and take a more consultative approach to sales and customer support. There must also be a greater knowledge of different solutions and customer pain points, so that everyone is up-skilled to ensure all are well versed in the latest technology. With this deeper understanding comes increased revenue and growth.

That’s why compelling events such as Comms Vision are so important. Providing a unique opportunity to network with peers and share knowledge, BT Wholesale is leading and participating in a number of sessions. Trevor Lovelock, our Senior Manager of Transformation, is holding a boardroom session that will delve into the digital transformation trends in the market as well as what transformation means for BT and other businesses. Here, we’ll also discuss how the BT Wholesale portfolio is evolving to enhance how partners can support customers on their digital journeys. While, Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst with consultancy Omdia, will discuss the outlook on enterprises’ digital investment priorities over the next 18 months, highlighting areas where resellers and vendors can play a more consultative role.

New ways of working

Covid-19 changed the way we work almost overnight, forcing businesses to equip employees with communications solutions they could use remotely. Now that hybrid working is here to stay, businesses need to look to the future and invest in smart, secure digital collaboration tools that allow them to work together from anywhere, and on any device. Evidently, the technology landscape is changing so rapidly, and digital transformation is enabling businesses to make fundamental changes to the way they operate. At Comms Vision, Trevor Lovelock will focus on what that means for the channel.

Expanding portfolios to include Unified Communications is on the agenda for all, in particular, the inclusion of IP calling features are crucial in light of the impending switch-off of the ISDN/PSTN. Indeed, digital solutions in general, for example WHC Express (our new digital phone line service), are also helping businesses prepare for the necessary shift to an all-IP environment. These innovative propositions are a key focus area for BT Wholesale, as well as creating frictionless digital experiences (for example through APIs) and developing progressive partnerships through our new partner programme, Partner Plus. For BT Wholesale and channel partners alike, the aim is to deliver new value while driving down costs through automation and self-service, all of which will be explored in our boardroom sessions.

More than transactional

I think it is fair to say that in the past relationships between channel partners and customers were largely based on price and through face-to-face interactions. Today, though, with most conversations happening online, it’s all about trust, guidance and support. Aligning to the new normal is a challenge for all businesses. They need genuine counsel from partners to make the right decisions. What this means in practical terms is what Camille Mendler, chief analyst with Omdia, will discuss in her session.

Trusted partners

With new technology comes the need for new knowledge and new skills. A constant process of up-skilling is crucial to ensure channel partners stay abreast of the latest developments and are able to provide necessary support. By offering access to training resources, as well as marketing support to help partners cut above the noise, programmes such as our Partner Plus programme can help ensure resellers continue delivering greater insight and services, demonstrating their value on customers’ digital transformation journeys. Even before the pandemic, some businesses had already embarked on this journey, of course. Those who were switched on to the switch-off were, and still are, one step ahead, planning a move to an all-IP environment. With Covid-19 forcing more to face this reality sooner than expected, we must continue to work together and up-skill to offer customers the best communication systems, underpinned by quality connectivity.

It’s not just channel partners who need to up-skill, vendors do too. That’s how you learn where the gaps are and where innovation is best placed, further inspiring digital transformation and driving value. No matter how big or experienced a company is, there is always room to learn. At BT Wholesale, we’ve invested heavily in this, for example with the introduction of APIs and digital hubs.

The way we work has changed – possibly forever. Partnerships are now more important than ever to offer customers enterprise-grade solutions for all work environments and up-skill to provide the ongoing supportive relationship customers seek. We’re incredibly excited to be discussing all of this at Comms Vision, which we see as a hugely strategic event and a cornerstone of our marketing and engagement plans, as well as something that brings us all together. In this new normal, we realise the role of the channel partner has never been more important.

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