$50m opportunity for channel

$50m opportunity for channel

SYDNEY - Resellers looking to make money from the convergence of telecommunications and networking take note. Lucent Technologies is aiming to push 50 per cent of its sales through VARs by 2000 - and that adds up to $50 million a year.

While the $US24 billion former subsidiary of AT&T will hold onto the higher-end call centre market, it will be releasing a host of products aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises.

"A lot of those will be products that will be suitable for the indirect channel," said Lucent's CEO, John Meddows.

"These products are in areas where we believe we have a great opportunity for channel partners to expand with us, and these are products that were previously not necessarily available in Australia to this marketplace.

"And there are some innovative solutions amongst them."

Branded under the banner TeamWorks, the product set includes the Definity PABX range, including scaled-down systems such as the Prologix, for small and medium business up to 400 extensions, and Guestworks, which is tailor- made for the hospitality industry.

The range also features the Compact Call Centre, and a small ISDN-based Commander-like key phone system called Generis. Internet solutions, wireless phone systems, videoconferencing and ATM products also feature.

To get the products to resellers, Lucent has launched a major advertising and recruitment campaign.

Meddows expects that interest will come from resellers of both telephony and data networking products. He said he has already held talks with several master distributors, who will then sell to VARs. "They're well aware of us, and some of them are pretty keen to take it a lot further and join forces with us," said Meddows.

"But what we're not doing is just signing up any organisation." Indeed, Lucent will soon implement an accreditation scheme, with training sessions for resellers.

Meddows said the program itself is being rolled out rapidly. Lucent will soon appoint a general manager for indirect sales, along with dedi-cated channels staff.

"We're aiming to have channel partners signed up from now until October," said Meddows. "Before the end of this calendar year we expect to have channel partners in place."

Channel conflict will be managed through a differentiated customer base, with Lucent making the list of clients it deals with directly available to the channel, Meddows said. The direct business will largely look after complex call centres, while the indirect business will chase small to medium business applications.

"The products almost go in two different directions," Meddows said. "And we'll have a system that will be able to manage that."

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