Solution Providers 'Expect Great Things' From AT&T's Channel Push


It's been roughly nine months since AT&T opened its doors to the channel via AT&T Partner Exchange, a partner program designed to grow AT&T's midmarket footprint along with a loyal base of solution providers to help make that happen.

Today, AT&T Partner Exchange hosts more than 90 solution providers, with more, according to AT&T, being added "each week." The program, while still early on, is speaking volumes to the continued convergence of the telecom and IT channels, and to the ROI being realized by those solution providers playing both sides of the fence.

"We have not had one solution provider come in to visit us in our [Plano, Texas] location and not sign up for the program," said Brooks McCorcle, president of AT&T's Emerging Business Markets, in a recent interview with CRN. "I think that's a great testament to the way they feel when they come on-site here. They meet the people who will be interacting with them and supporting their team."

 

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McCorcle attributed the growth of AT&T Partner Exchange, introduced in February, to the fact that it's hosted within AT&T's Emerging Business Markets, the newly formed business unit within AT&T's Business Solutions segment. Housing the program separately from the rest of AT&T, McCorcle said, has helped AT&T eliminate one of solution providers' biggest fears when partnering with a service provider behemoth like itself -- namely, that their size makes them impossible to work with.

"The fact that we have built this program as a startup inside a Fortune 11 company makes AT&T accessible to this marketplace in a way that maybe it hasn't been before," McCorcle said.

McCorcle stressed that the program's success to date also comes from its use of open APIs, which allow solution providers to monitor end users' networks and resolve any issues without having to involve AT&T directly.

In addition, AT&T has been diligent about gathering partner feedback, and incorporating that feedback into the ongoing development of the program, McCorcle said. A new, easier-to-navigate partner portal and pricing engine are the latest results of that effort.

"It's literally including [partners] in the development of the program that has helped us be as successful as we have to date," McCorcle said.

AT&T Partner Exchange segments partners into tiers -- silver, gold and platinum -- which are determined based on the volume of business they do with AT&T. Discounts and incentives vary based on those tiers.

The program focuses on three primary AT&T product lines, including IP networking, mobility managed services, and cloud-based offerings such as compute- and storage-as-a-service.

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