Wholesale services are an unusual arena for innovation. It's often a tried-and-true and staid business that is built on the art of the deal. But AT&T has changed that. By building on its efforts to better target its mid-market customers, and using the innovative business unit it built for that strategy, AT&T is tapping new revenue sources and building on existing ones in new ways through its AT&T Partner Solutions business.
I had the chance to spend some time at the unit's Plano, Texas, office with its president, Brooks McCorcle, in the fall, and got a first-hand look at how they do the business of partnering and wholesale services in a new and different way. If you read Light Reading regularly, McCorcle has probably become a familiar face, known for her efforts to promote Women in Communications as well as her reshaping of this traditional business. What she provided in Plano, however, was a little bit more up close and personal. (See Mentor Monday: AT&T's Brooks McCorcle and More Women in Tech Is Critically Important.)
McCorcle takes a very personal interest in this business unit because she actually kicked off the transformation process herself, building on a strategy white paper on how AT&T could do better with the mid-market segment by working with the value-added resellers, integrators and others who were re-selling services to SMBs in new ways. For many businesses, McCorcle says, complexity was rising rapidly and they were looking for more end-to-end services. Buying services from one company and IT solutions and integration from another loses its appeal in that more complex world. (See AT&T Partner Solutions: It's All in the APIs.)
"We realized that we can embed network services in the resale model, that they are ready to accept a reseller model, powered by AT&T," she comments. "They wanted the power of our brand. It was important to them because of our credibility and it was important to use to have AT&T as part of the solution."
Given the opportunity to put her strategy into place, McCorcle crowdsourced 20 of the best AT&T folks she could find from different disciplines and essentially created a startup business aimed at serving this midmarket wholesale customer in a different way. They started by asking customers what they wanted, and that proved to be simple: ordering AT&T services via self-serve portals. (See AT&T Partner Solutions: Breaking the Telecom Culture Mold.)
By giving her new team a 90-day deadline to develop a solution, McCorcle helped jumpstart what is now the AT&T Partner Exchange, which launched almost three years ago now, to give VARs, integrators and managed services providers a means of adding a wide range of AT&T services via network-based application programming interfaces (APIs). These sales partners then can assume responsibility for helping the SMBs manage, troubleshoot and provision their network services. (See AT&T Opens Up for Partner Program.)
So successful was this effort in building better partnerships and increasing AT&T's mid-market business sales success -- without impacting its retail sales operation -- that McCorcle was given responsibility for AT&T's wholesale and agent operations. Those are now fed into the same work processes that were set up initially in the entrepreneurial unit in Plano.
The goal then became maintaining this creative and fast-paced method of working, and one of the ways McCorcle is enabling that is through the organization's unusual working space, which is specifically designed to enable the rapid iteration of software as part of a dev-ops method of working that brings every part of the solution team to the table.
The slideshow below provides a closer look at how AT&T Partner Solutions continues to innovate:
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading