Skype Initiates U.S. Channel Partner Program to Add Business Customers

VoIP provider aims to construct channel network to market communication and collaboration solutions to SMBs.

September 9, 2010

D.H. Kass

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Skype Ltd., a well-known provider of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, said that it will enlist value-added resellers and system integrators to sell its communication and collaboration solutions to businesses.

The company said that it will rely on a network of solution providers to get its business services--Skype Business Client, Skype Manager, and Skype Connect--in the hands of small- and medium-sized business customers.

Skype’s channel partner program comes amid a recent flurry of activity by the vendor. Last month, it filed an Initial Public Offering (IPO) registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in which it confirmed plans for additional sources of revenue--such as selling its services to business clients--and last week it launched Skype Connect to enable business customers to make domestic and international calls using standard telephone equipment.

Skype said that it will arm its channel partners with training, sales and marketing materials, customer tracking and reporting tools, support and account management. The vendor said that it expects qualified partners to incorporate services such as consulting, installation, configuration, maintenance and support to business customers.

While the Skype VoIP service is far more prevalent among consumers than businesses at this point, the vendor contends that small- and medium-sized businesses are a ripe target for its products.

“We believe that small, medium and large businesses are looking for cost-effective, integrated real-time communications and collaboration solutions," said David Gurlé, Skype Business vice president and general manager.

Skype said that 20 VARs and system integrators have signed on to the program, undergone training and begun including the vendor’s business solutions with their own services and third-party hardware.

These trusted advisors 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,” Gurlé said.

Skype said that channel partners will not be allowed to resell any of the vendor’s products to end customers, who must buy directly from Skype.

Solution providers will be expected to assist business customers to set up the Skype VoIP service and buy Skype products, officials said.

For example, channel partners 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 private branch exchange (PBX) or Unified Communications (UC) systems to Skype using Skype Connect, the company said.

“Ultimately, this Channel Partner Program will help us scale service and support for our business customers,” Gurlé said.

Precedent Technologies LLC, a newly-signed Skype channel partner based in Atlanta, GA, said that the vendor’s business solutions will be a good fit for its customer base.

Patrick Carley, Precedent chief executive, said that “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."

Skype said it also intends to offer its partner program to existing channel partners associated with IP-enabled PBX and UC systems manufacturers certified as interoperable with Skype Connect.

TAGS: SMB,partner,VoIP,Skype,channel

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