Tim Shaw was appointed KCOM CEO in April 2022, bringing a unique appreciation of the challenges and opportunities facing the reseller channel. He now plans to strengthen partner relationships to help the channel leverage the burgeoning fibre opportunity.
Comms Dealer quizzed Shaw on his immediate priorities and discovered what impact his appointment will have on KCOM’s channel proposition
CD: Why did you take the CEO role and what are your immediate priorities?
TS: KCOM is a great business, and it is a privilege to lead the company in its next chapter. KCOM started on its fibre journey over ten years ago and we have not stopped expanding since. Our priorities are to extend our network to reach more towns and make the shift to become a digitally led organisation.
CD: How will your previous experience aid you in your new role?
TS: The time I spent in BT Wholesale gave me a real appreciation of the challenges and opportunities facing the reseller channel. In my previous role in KCOM I was leading our digital transformation programme which will transform our whole business and enables our partners to connect directly to us.
CD: What message does your appointment send to the channel?
TS: It sends the message that the KCOM Group and our shareholders are serious about driving broadband growth using all our partners. The central tenet of my strategy will be to develop strong partnerships in the channel, which will provide opportunities for resellers themselves and KCOM Wholesale.
CD: Please summarise your channel proposition, target markets and growth areas?
TS: Our proposition is giving the channel access to broadband and ethernet services across our entire footprint – currently over 300k homes and business and growing. We are expanding in market towns and large villages and aim to pass 97% of all properties in any area we develop. In terms of development, it will be around giving the channel a fibre proposition with a full digital experience.
CD: What factors are influencing KCOM’s market approach, wholesale portfolio development and partner engagement?
TS: Our product development is designed to underpin what we believe the channel’s customers will require i.e., the assurance of outstanding fibre products supported by KCOM’s network and engineering capability with system integration.
CD: What are the main strands of KCOM’s channel growth and support strategy and how will this evolve?
TS: We want to change the perception that we are just a ‘Hull-based’ company! We also want to make it is as easy as possible for the channel to be able to consume and resell our services. This means digitised onboarding and full portalbased access for ordering. This allows their end users to order services on the resellers’ own portals.
CD: How do you think the role of resellers/system integrators will evolve, and what strategies should they adopt to succeed in today’s digital market?
TS: System integrators will look to provide greater individualism and specialisation and aggregators will re-focus with greater attention on ‘affiliation’ and ‘alliance’ partnering models. Therefore, channel resellers need to think about what will differentiate them. This can be technology or vertical driven or it could be focused on selective geographies and end-customer demographics. This is where we see our role in the future, supporting businesses who want to work with us in the geographical area we cover.
CD: Where do you see KCOM in three-five years’ time?
TS: Our network will have passed more than 500k premises and strategic reseller partnerships will be selling the full spectrum of our fibre products and solutions. The customer journey will be fully automated end to end, and I expect us to be seen as a key pan-regional fibre network provider.
CD: What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing the IT/ comms channel right now and how can KCOM help meet them?
- TS: Firstly, the PSTN migration. We are commencing a bespoke customer by customer engagement plan to support customers in finding alternatives and switching to fibre.
- Secondly, fibre take- up. We have seen huge growth in fibre network build across the UK and the focus now is to drive take-up.
- Thirdly, there is a potential issue around the continued march of one or two dominant players that may limit competition and choice.
CD: Where is customer value moving to and how does your strategy dovetail with these shifts?
TS: End-customers are increasingly savvy about value, especially in considering grade of service versus price. We believe the ability for consumers to be able to a make a choice in terms of balancing budget against grade of service and price is important, and this is certainly central in terms of how we’re positioning ourselves in the market from a proposition and pricing perspective.