Express Data has launched an automated renewals system which it claims will enable resellers to build incremental revenue and eventually handle cloud services.
The Continuous Coverage offering is based on Express Data’s revamped IT Agent platform and covers multiple software and hardware infrastructure.
According to the distributor, the mechanism works similarly to pay-TV, where customers are automatically billed for renewed services as they expire until they choose to “opt-out”. Features include automated payment, aggregated billing and product fulfilment through a Web-based portal.
Eight vendors have signed up so far: Cisco, Microsoft, CA, Novell, M86 Security, IBM, Autodesk and Adobe. Express Data expected more to join over coming months.
Speaking at the launch event in Sydney, the distributor’s vendor manager, David Peach, claimed its automated renewals and IT Agent platform were game changers that could benefit a wide range of partners.
“This is about the profitability of our partners – we are building revenue streams in the years to come,” he told attendees.
The renewals joint-access portal is optional for both resellers and vendors and is available free of charge. Resellers will be able to co-brand and specify which customers, products and set margins on each renewal sale. They are then provided with a monthly report which itemises every renewal across their customer base, the value of each deal, and their rebates.
Express Data emerging channels manager, Clint Musgrave, said the challenge at all levels of the channel was managing the thin tail of renewals cost-effectively. He claimed an “invisible barrier” existed in every business where partners chose to focus resources and therefore missed incremental opportunities. Having an automated system lowered costs and simplified the whole process.
“If you pull all those little bags of money together, it becomes quite a substantial amount,” he said. “We are aiming to complement, not replace the renewals process. Our offering can scale up and down depending on that invisible line in everyone’s business.”
It was initially built by Express Data to manage Cisco’s SmartNet systems, but quickly expanded into a multiple vendor platform, Musgrave said. The distributor is also touting the back-end IT Agent as the first step towards successful management of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud services through the channel.
“It’s our vision over time that IT Agent will be…the delivery mechanism for new models around SaaS and cloud services, Peach said.
Managing director of software reseller Simply International, Kirk Jones, has already signed to the automated renewal system. At the launch, he told ARN it would enable his company to cost-effectively manage ad-hoc and smaller orders from customers for tier-two vendor offerings. He highlighted particular opportunity with SMB and mid-market sales.
CA director of data recovery and data modelling, Scott Caulfield, was also supportive of the new platform and pointed out most software vendors struggled to address renewals successfully.
“It’s a great initiative and tool which allows us all to provide services to customers and to release revenue streams that we have not been able to realise in the past,” he said. “For resellers, it gives them a revenue perpetuity stream and bookable revenue in advance.”