Voice over Internet Protocol specialist Skype announced the introduction of the Skype Channel Partner Program to help businesses that are looking to use Skype for their collaboration and communication needs. Recognizing that most businesses purchase their IT and telecommunications services through VARs (value-added resellers) or systems integrators, the company said the goal of the program is to establish a network of channel partners in the United States that can assist companies interested in using Skype to help improve their productivity and optimize their communication costs.
Through the program, qualified channel partners will receive training, sales and marketing collaterals, customer tracking and reporting tools, as well as support and account management from Skype to help them offer quality service to their business customers. Once trained and certified by Skype, channel partners will be equipped to provide their own consulting, installation, configuration, maintenance and support services to business customers who wish to use Skype's business solutions, including the Skype Business Client, Skype Manager and Skype Connect.
David Gurl??Â«, vice president and general manager of Skype for Business, said he believes that small, medium and large businesses are looking for cost-effective, integrated real-time communications and collaboration solutions. "Our certified Skype channel partners will advise and guide them on how to strategically adopt Skype for Business Solutions and get the most out of using them within their organizations," he said. "These 'trusted advisers' are selected by Skype based on relationships with business customers, the experience and know-how to provide complementary services, such as consulting, installation, training and local support, as well as hardware and software integration and industry-specific expertise. Ultimately, this Channel Partner Program will help us scale service and support for our business customers."
Channel partners will help businesses set up Skype and buy and use Skype products. For example, they will help Skype Manager customers use and manage the Skype Business Client on their desktop and mobile phones via business accounts or connect their existing PBX (private branch exchange) or UC (unified communications) systems to Skype using Skype Connect. They may also sell third-party hardware and software for use with Skype. Channel partners will not be reselling any Skype products to customers, the company noted; all products will be bought directly from Skype. Skype will also work with manufacturers of the IP-enabled PBX and UC systems that have already been certified as interoperable with Skype Connect to introduce the channel partner program to their existing channel partners.
The company said already 20 VARs and system integrators have been enrolled in and trained as part of the program and have started marketing and selling their own services and third-party hardware and software for use with Skype's business solutions. Precedent Technologies of Atlanta, which partners with small businesses, especially new startups, to deliver end-to-end technology solutions, including both hardware and services, is one of the initial partners.
Patrick Carley, CEO of Precedent Technologies, said his company jointed the partner program because Skype is a well-known brand and Carley had used it personally for years. "I believe Skype's business solutions appeal to our diverse client base--be it smaller companies that are just getting started and need to watch their infrastructure costs closely or larger companies who may be interested in using Skype to supplement their international communications," he said.