Make the Switch, Fill Your Pockets - Page 3

Take a Bite BellSouth and IBM, meanwhile, are holding out a big carrot to their business partners, offering opportunities selling turnkey solutions and consulting services, as well as a piece of an ongoing revenue stream for the customers broadband connection.

"This is a pure go-to-market play," says Donna Lee, president of marketing at BellSouth. "This has sprung from what business partners and their customers both want. Its focused on the midmarket and business partners are part of the model."

It also has sprung from an increasingly tight relationship between data hardware vendors and telcos. IBM and BellSouth inked another deal last year to front-load MQSeries and DB2 into BellSouths wireless phones.

IBM likewise signed a deal with Qwest last year to build 28 data hosting centers around the country and to rent out 25 percent of the floor space in those centers.

Cram Session In the midst of an uncertain economy and a flood of earnings warnings, one of the most upbeat projections was delivered recently by Qwest. The company said that of all the services it offers, the fastest growing piece was the data side of the house. It also said that it intends to meet its 2001 revenue projections, buffeted in part by those data sales.

Even at struggling WorldCom, for one, data revenue is rising swiftly. The companys strong data strategy—coupled with its depressed stock price—has triggered several takeover rumors. The latest purported suitor is struggling SBC Communications. SBC declined to comment on the takeover rumors last week.

Back at Qwest, executives sound upbeat. Thomas Hall, senior VP of indirect channels and government markets at Qwest, says that voice, data, private lines and IP services are all growing, but the highest growth clearly is in the IP and hosting areas. The upside for business partners is that most of those sales are indirect and hold the promise of a steady revenue stream.

Still, there will be challenges. But Qwests partners must devote more resources to get trained on those services. And Qwest will need to sink more resources into support and education to make the IP push work as planned.

"Weve got to teach new partners how to fish," says Nik Nesbitt, VP of Qwests Business Partner program. "Were about to roll out a Qwest certification program that will work with vendor certifications from Cisco, HP, Sun, Microsoft and IBM."