In its first launch of these new white-labelled Intermedia offerings outside the U.S., NEC is looking to use them to re-establish a strong presence in Canada.
Two months ago, NEC Corporation and Intermedia launched a major global strategic partnership which saw Intermedia’s cloud-based Unified Communications as a Service [UCaaS] and Contact Center as a Service [CCaaS] offerings white-labelled by NEC, and sold within their UNIVERGE BLUE portfolio. The UCaaS service was branded as NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT, while the CCaaS was NEC UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE. The initial rollout was limited to the United States. However today, it is being expanded outside the U.S. for the first time, with the formal launch into Canada.
Intermedia has a very large OEM business, but from the outset they stated that the scale and scope of NEC’s global presence made this more than just another white label partnership. Early results in the U.S. have justified the expectations for both parties.
“The rollout has been extremely successful, one of the best we have seen in a couple of decades,” said Ram Menghani, SVP of Product Development for NEC Enterprise Communications Technologies. “There is a huge activity in pipeline building up, which is above our expectations.”
Channel interest in the new offerings has been high.
“We have 800 plus channel partners in the U.S, and a large number signed up for this,” Menghani said. “That has never happened in the past. We had 150 large partners sign up in a couple days.”
Menghani indicated that some partners are waiting for master agency support in the June 30 release.
“Distribution is waiting for that too,” he said. “We hope to sign the majority of those after June 30.”
“We have been super pleased,” said Mike Gold, Intermedia’s CEO. “This is a massive opportunity that’s happening in the industry, in moving from on-prem based phone and contact centre to the cloud. With NEC being a market leader, the early signs are that we will have very good penetration.”
The Canadian market is a significant one because it’s one where NEC was stronger in the past than it is today. Menghani acknowledged this, but said that cloud services effectively reset the table, and these new UNIVERGE BLUE will put them in a strong position to take back share in Canada.
“We have had challenges in Canada, particularly around our cloud services,” he said. “We launched UNIVERGE BLUE in the U.S. in 2013 and 14 but launching it in Canada was problematic. We tried doing it out of the U.S. That didn’t work. We tried partnering with Rogers. That did not fly. Because we lacked these cloud services in Canada, we lost some ground, but we have not lost our channel there.”
Menghani noted that while before 2010, NEC sold direct in Canada as well as through channel partners, in 2012, they got out of the direct business in Canada, and focused on the channel. That 100% channel model is still a differentiator for them he stressed, because while their key competitors are predominantly channel, they still do some direct sales.
“We now have about 150 partners active in Canada,” Menghani said. “We had over 300 at our peak, and we want to get back to that. More than 100 channel partners have already joined this in Canada, which means the excitement is there, and we believe we have a good opportunity. We have been trying to displace our competitors in Canada, but with the cloud, things start from the ground up, and this is a frictionless deployment.”
Menghani said that these UNIVERGE BLUE services in Canada will be the same as I in the U.S. Gold noted as well that Intermedia approaches the Canadian market much the same as it handles the U.S.
“Canada is not the U.S., but it is very similar,” he said. “There is the French element to support, but most everything else is the same.”
NEC is doing a series of webinars with their Canadian partners to bring them up to speed on the new offerings. The global rollout will continue this year, and into 2021.