IN THE HOT SEAT: Techie dives in at AT&T

IN THE HOT SEAT: Techie dives in at AT&T

A self-proclaimed techie — and proud of it — Nick Cunningham-Moorat is no stranger to the ways of the channel. Ask him what his life would be like without IT and he’d be hard-pressed to come up with an answer — although opening a dive shop was tossed out as a potential second calling.

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of AT&T Australia’s multi-channel sales strategy — a program Cunningham-Moorat helped hatch. Through a team of 20, the company has expanded its sales reach to the Australian business market through the reseller channel. The main drivers in 2004 include focusing on core areas including remote access, Internet and private networks.

The company plans to make inroads in the data communications and networking services arena, and has also enhanced its network infrastructure and bandwidth to help in the push towards offering full end-to-end services.

Ending its local service provider agreement with Telstra in April 2002, the company is focusing on network connectivity, managed networking services, remote access, network integration and outsourcing services.

How did you come to join AT&T?

Nick Cunningham-Moorat (NC): Joining AT&T was really an aligning of the planets more than anything else. I have pure channels experience overseas, and know how to build a channel business model from scratch.

AT&T international and AT&T Australia had decided there was a lot of latent demand that existed within the domestic market itself.

To try and attack that, we needed to focus on a multi-channel approach. And this would mean bringing about more value instead of trying to attack it directly.

Why did AT&T target the channel in 2003?

NCM: We realised there were a couple of barriers of entry for certain channel partners wanting to enter the market. The cost of getting into that space was large with huge implementations, big product rollouts and infrastructure requirements.

We’re looking for something that’s easy, simple and actually leverages the inherent value that those channel partners have. It doesn’t overburden them with a cost model. It brings them incremental revenue in their standard day-to-day process and can take into account the latent demand volume elements within the marketplace.

What does some of the strategy entail?

NCM: What’s come out of that is a multi-layered channel environment, starting from the most simple channel partners that just want us to tell them about opportunities, do the final qualifications, and drive business out of it. That’s the direct sales program.

The next layer starts to talk about our global partnership space where we have partners such as Cisco, that are a global provider to us, with whom we work closely and have global go-to-market initiatives.

The next level starts to target the traditional channel environment. This is somebody out there who wants to manage the customer and own the relationship, but they don’t want to go through the process of building help desks or infrastructure. They want AT&T to run the contract, but they wish to manage the customer relationship.

Another level of partners want to directly resell the solutions to market. Globally, we have one partner in this space — that’s IBM — and we’re investigating how to manage that locally.

Because of the nature of the marketplace we decided the SME market wasn’t going to be a direct channel environment for us, and so we put in place a master sales agent.

The master sales agent is responsible for penetrating into the SME space, appointing sales agents into that space, and managing the entire process. An example of this is peddling enterprise technology solutions.

What business lines does the company offer?

NCM: What we realised when we came to Australia was AT&T had some core products that were designed specifically for the global company. And as you move through that environment you realise those products span everybody from the global office to the global traveller: you have home office and all sizes of organisations fitting in there.

Breaking the products into sections, we have a very clearly delineated enterprise and SME requirement. It’s around these broad product bundles where we built the actual engagement models in the channel. Traditional SME guys tend to fit into remote access type of services and Internet-based services. The mid-market starts to get into the large domestic private networks and large domestic Internet-based networks.

What are the main telecom trends you’re seeing in the market?

NCM: One is home users and remote access. The other trend is the global move to IP-based networks. The opportunities are in the underlying technologies in IP-based networks.

What is a hot vertical market for AT&T?

NCM: The resource industry is a key one. The primary problem centres on a lack of flexibility and a lack of manageability of the global communication components. So we bring to the table the ability to manage that problem for them and to present a structure that’s really simple to use and understand, and delivers what they need.

Some of the other areas in which we’re seeing a lot of activity in right include IP telecommunications, particularly converged video streaming.

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