TelcoSwitch CEO on priorities

No channel business stands the test of time unless built on the strongest foundations and for incoming TelcoSwitch CEO Howard Stevens that means a people-first culture, a trust-centric team and value-driving technology solutions.

In January Stevens picked up the CEO baton from Matt Mansell who retains a position on the TelcoSwitch Board of Directors. Mansell oversaw the CPaaS vendor’s launch of the CallSwitch One platform following the acquisition of TelcoSwitch by investor Queen’s Park Equity in the summer of 2022. Stevens brings over 20 years executive experience in multi-national high growth environments and spent eight years as SVP & Global Head of Sales at SAP where he was credited with developing telecoms into one of the company’s top three fast growth markets. Most recently he was CEO of Vista Private Equity backed Tomia, a provider of roaming and inter-operator connectivity solutions for global carriers. He guided the business towards its acquisition by Lumine Group in 2022.

“My experiences have given me a clear understanding around the importance of building a positive and trust-based internal culture and having that flow into the various teams,” stated Stevens. “I’ve seen the impacts of culture across organisations of all sizes, from how a positive and open culture can drive a business forward to how an aggressive blame culture will have the opposite effect. Every individual needs to see the impact they are having on the business as a whole, and it is critically important to mentor and engage employees to help them understand where they fit into the journey. This is a make or break priority. With the right attitude and internal culture we can deliver the right approach to our partner community.”

Stevens also brings extensive telecoms and commercial knowledge to the table, and his broad vertical market experience and know-how feeds directly into his strategy and vision for TelcoSwitch. “My career has primarily centred around growing revenue streams and building growth environments and I’m bringing these learnings to TelcoSwitch,” commented Stevens. “We need to create a win-win scenario for ourselves, partners and end users.”

The company has almost 500 channel partners across varying scales and according to Stevens they have been energised by CallSwitch One, a proprietary platform that is 100 per cent owned-IP. “Helping existing partners transition from our legacy platform to CallSwitch One is an immediate priority,” added Stevens. “Partners have been highly receptive to this and their commitment is reflected in a rapid adoption rate, with over half of all new orders gravitating towards CallSwitch One in the first four months after general release.”

New markets
According to Stevens, CallSwitch One also makes TelcoSwitch relevant to important new markets. He attributes its wider appeal to the ‘true SaaS nature’ of the platform, its scalability, use of public cloud infrastructure and Open APIs. “This gives partners the capability to leverage the platform in a multitude of ways,” commented Stevens. “That makes us more relevant to systems integrators and we’re bullish about the capability and relevance of CallSwitch One to that market. We’re also building out our wholesale offering, leveraging the Open API framework with encouraging early results from new partners.”

To successfully navigate and win in a highly competitive market requires a solution that exceeds industry standards and continues to improve through its roadmap during the customer lifecycle. This way customers are more likely to resign at the end of their contract term. And with the PSTN switch-off looming larger by the day, platforms such as CallSwitch One provide a substantial long-term opportunity for UCaaS providers.

Seamless migrations
“Offering seamless migrations to cloud-native solutions is an appealing alternative that enables partners to capitalise on this huge industry change,” added Stevens. “We also see partners who need to consolidate platforms because they either purchased multiple solutions from us in the past, or have adopted other vendors through acquisition and suffer the support headache that brings. So we’re focused on high levels of automation.”

He noted that the lines between CCaaS and UCaaS are becoming increasingly blurred with customers expecting more CCaaS features in what was traditionally a UCaaS deployment, including richer analytics, reporting, easily customisable wallboards etc, even in relatively small businesses. Another big trend is the rise of Artificial Intelligence.

“Some vendors are talking up AI capabilities but in practice it’s not as rich as the marketing would have you believe,” commented Stevens. “It is certainly a trend we’re witnessing and we are already leveraging AI in a number of ways including voice transcription, but most importantly our partners aren’t beating our door down to deliver more AI functionality. It’s the integrations and API capabilities that are driving their sales conversations along with customer needs. I’m very mindful of that.”

Also top of mind for Stevens is the subject of leadership, which he says is first and foremost about people. “You need to motivate and retain your key talent and create an environment where people can be creative and feel empowered,” he reiterated. “I cannot overstate how important good people and productive teams are to a successful journey. Throughout my eight years at Mobile365 through to SAP, I retained all bar one of my management team as we grew and went through multiple acquisitions. We continued to achieve high levels of success, all built upon trust and honesty between us as a senior leadership team.” 

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