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Interview

Nick Birtwhistle

New year, new programme Vodafone’s new partner programme went live at the beginning of January. Behind the redevelopment is Nick Birtwistle, director of partnerships & alliances, who spoke with Mobile to explain the new unified comms focus and how dealers are reacting to changing end-user demands

The first 100 partners accredited under the new scheme were proud not just of their new status, but of the new programme as well. Assimilated Communications director Peter Szirtes called it, ‘a fantastic platform to use to expand our business development opportunities’ while Olive CCO Paul Butler described the model as ‘truly industry-leading’. Having also overseen the previous redevelopment of its partner programme in 2013, Vodafone’s director of partnerships and alliances described the evolution of the portal: ‘Historically I think our partner programme has been very well received in the marketplace but it’s been a mobile-only programme. So when Vodafone and Cable & Wireless came together we suddenly had access to a whole load of fixed line reseller partners who basically said, “look I like what you’re talking about, but it’s a mobile-only programme and it doesn’t do anything for me”. Now 12

January 2017

there’s a relevance, and it helps answer a lot of questions that people had. ‘I think it’s going to help the channel, having a partner system that stands for something, that gives something back.’

The unified comms transition Dealers in the B2B mobile space began expanding their services long ago, with some even leaving mobile altogether in favour of increasingly lucrative cloud, fixed telephony and unified comms services. For many, however, mobile continues to be a cornerstone of dealer offerings across the UK, and for some it

remains the main focus. Explaining how the new portal and programme will change its relationships with dealers across this spectrum, Nick Birtwistle told Mobile: ‘We’ve not been secret in that our business has evolved from a mobile company to a UC company – we want to make sure we are working more and more with partners who are in that UC space. The new system will help our partners get from A to B, and also attract new partners that traditionally we’ve not worked with. ‘It’s also about growing a better, more capable channel. If you look at what customers are doing you can see where the market is going;

We’ve not been secret in that our business has evolved from a mobile company to a UC company

it’s evolving rapidly and customers aren’t seeing fixed and mobile separately like they used to. Now it’s frankly about the adoption of cloud and IT services.’ Clients viewing fixed, mobile and other services as a combined offering may be behind convergence in products and services on offer, but it may be a factor behind consolidation as well. Birtwistle said: ‘There’s a lot of consolidation going on – especially in the past six months – and I don’t expect that to change. Those who are just fixed and those that are just mobile are clearly finding it harder now because the market dynamics are changing. I think if they’re not able to change themselves they are going to get left behind.’

A portal to another sales dimension The new portal was built over two years featuring feedback from a select group of partners. From this, Vodafone added a range of tools to help ‘level the playing field’ by providing 150 hours of www.mobiletoday.co.uk

Mobile January 2017