Systems Integrator VoIP has set up a new business called VExpress that will operate independently as a distributor of Alcatel’s voice and data products for the SME market.
VExpress will first tackle the distribution of Alcatel’s OmniPCX Office range of products, and also market packaged services offerings to resellers, to be fulfilled by the 50-plus Alcatel specialist engineers employed by its sister company (VoIP). The distributor will remain a separate business to VoIP but will rely on the expertise of its engineers to provide services on behalf of its resellers.
The operations of VExpress will be managed by Grant Morrison, who was formerly a consultant to VoIP after leaving his post as national sales manager at Alcatel Australia.
Morrison said he became aware of the need for a new Alcatel distributor while working for the vendor.
“Alcatel identified holes in the market for its SME resellers and customers,” Morrison told ARN. “IP Telephony is no longer about will it or won’t it be big – its here to stay and its success will only be measured by how it is delivered.
"There is a serious level of complexity involved in these new products compared to the traditional voice business – when you think about IP, Automated Voice Response and other call centre technology – these were never previously available at the low end. They require a high level of skill and training.”
Morrison said regional resellers and service providers had been “under-serviced” and “under-facilitated” with regards to these new technologies.
At present, the OmniPCX range was already available from networking distributor LAN Systems. But VExpress intended to add “greater value” to the channel by providing accreditation and training, a formal pricing scheme, soft dollars and later a rebate scheme, he said.
“LAN Systems is a logistics-style distributor,” Morrison said. “We on the other hand are not focused on just having a big warehouse, doing just in time distribution and providing credit. We will do most of that, but we are a different kind of entity. LAN Systems are looking after different kinds of channels to us.”
He said the distributor would not necessarily be targeting existing Alcatel resellers. Instead it would focus on providing skills to new resellers and targeting the resellers of Alcatel’s competitors.
LAN Systems director, Nick Verykios, said he has been advised by VoIP of their intentions.
"It was a bit of a shock - when one of your customers comes to you and says they will now be distributing the products they always bought from you - it makes you scratch the back of your head a bit," he said.
Verykios said he was confused by VoIP's commitment that it would no longer sell the product when engaging with customers.
"If a customer asks for it, what are they going to say? There seems to be a little bit of conflict there," he said.
For all the assurances Verykios has been given about how the new distributor will operate, he still has some concerns.
"We are told that [VExpress] won't distribute to the existing accredited Alcatel resellers we service," he said. "If that happens, there is no problem. But if they start knocking on the doors of our customers, it makes a mockery of what they are saying. If that happens, we will go back to Alcatel and ask for some real clarity in their channel model."
For more information on VExpress, including accreditation, rebates, pricing and co-up funding details, see next week's edition of ARN.