Sprint turns eye on channel for ION

Sprint turns eye on channel for ION

Communications company Sprint last week signalled that the company is looking to ramp up its indirect sales channels to market more aggressively services such as its Integrated on Demand (ION) offerings.

Specifically, the company announced that it has put in place an Integrated Service Organisation to interact better with its value-added resellers.

Sprint officials predict that, by 2002, about 50 per cent of the company'srevenue will come through indirectchannels. By 2005, that will jump to 75per cent, said Kim McMinn, senior director of Distributor Marketing for Sprint Business.

Sprint's converged networking services initiative, ION, plays squarely into the company's move to beef up indirect channels, McMinn said. "We are preparing our channels this year for ION on a limited basis, using three to six of our key partners."

By next year, however, Sprint expects to do nearly all of its ION business through its indirect channels, McMinn added.

To spur ION - which many industry watchers claim is off to a slow start- Sprint is also right now honing a formal training program in an attempt to establish ION as an industry standard, similar to Microsoft or Cisco certification programs.

Sprint bills ION as a completely converged service that offers bundled ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode), frame relay, IP solutions, and local and long distance voice service. ION is built on an ATM backbone network, which supports IP applications and services.

McMinn said Sprint's current push to strengthen indirect channels grew out of the company's realisation that its sales and support effort should reflect better the market shift toward bundled telecommunications services.

"Telecom more and more is becoming part of a bundle, and not the front and centre part of a solution," McMinn said.

"This new organisation is a long culmination of things that started in 1999 when we had a research study done to look at market growth. It was then that we realised we were not going to be able to keep pace with market trend growth by working only through direct channels," McMinn said.

The Integrated Service Organization will serve as a central spot for Sprint resellers to use in the care and feeding of Sprint customers, officials said.

In conjunction with the new organisation, Sprint also announced a Distribution Market Ordering Tool which channel partners will use to submit orders online.

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