In this podcast, Kelvin Prescott talks to Nigel Sergent, the Managing Editor of Comms Dealer about the Reseller Channel.

Kelvin asks Nigel about the opportunities offered to Resellers by selling to the Public Sector. With the encouragement of SME’s over the last 10 years by the Government to supply them, what is stopping Resellers from seizing that opportunity?

A full transcript of the conversation is below


Kelvin Prescott:

Hello and welcome to the latest INNOPSIS podcast. I’m joined here today by Nigel Sergent, who’s the managing editor of Comms Dealer. And we’re here to talk about the opportunity for resellers within the public sector.

The context for this, I think, is two-fold. The first is, we’ve had ten years now of the government strategy of opening up the ICT market to a range of small and medium sized enterprises, and to reduce the reliance that it had historically on big, single supply contracts. And that gives a lot of opportunity and potential routes to market, that didn’t exist a decade ago.

The question is, how can the reseller market use that opportunity to find new customers, to deliver tangible growth? And also, what is the value that those resellers can bring to the delivery of public services and enhance the value and the use of taxpayers money?

So that’s the topic for today’s discussion. First, I’d like to welcome Nigel to the podcast. Could you give our listeners a quick overview of your role and background and how the reseller market looks from your perspective?

Nigel Sergent:

Be delighted Kelvin. Nice to talk to you today.

As you mentioned I’m the editor or director of Comms Dealer. I actually co-founded the the magazine 22 years ago, so it’s been quite a long time. We founded it to address what was then, the burgeoning independent telecoms industry, post regulation by Mrs. Thatcher in the late ’80s. It was 1996 when we first put our first issue out.

Since then the reseller market has grown exponentially. And according to our latest ABC certificate, which basically endorses what we’re doing in the market, there are now upwards of 12,000 companies in the UK providing telecoms or converged ICT solutions for end users. These range from, obviously, the large pipe comm activities and fully integrated contact centres for the larger enterprises, to the smallish broadband and small telephone systems for smaller organisations. And of course, that goes right across all the private sector and the public sector, so it’s a very broad brush.

Kelvin Prescott:

When I think about the reseller market Nigel, and this reflects my own, I think lack of familiarity, I think of it as an area that focuses a lot of consumer telecoms and services for small, and medium sized enterprises first and foremost. Is that a fair reflection of how the market works now? Or is it much broader than that?

Nigel Sergent:

I think it’s a fair reflection, the resellers do tend to work in the private sector, as opposed to public sector, and I’ll explain a little bit more about why I think that’s so later. But I think that the one thing I’ve always thought about this industry, the resellers that operate in it, is that it’s very much a local service they’re providing. A lot of resellers, across the UK are obviously working in local areas, local municipal areas, where the opportunities are. So, in terms of the public sector opportunities which are out there, I think that they’re amazing, but potentially they’re struggling to address those things. There‚Äôs schools locally, there’s universities, there’s hospitals, there’s doctor surgeries, there’s retirement homes, and all those kinds of applications that they can address. But ,and I think the issue is that, or the opportunity I should say, is that those kind of organisations need to save cash. That’s where resellers can help, by offering the kind of advice they want on integrating solutions and providing new joined up services. Especially in the cloud, because a lot of end users, and I hope in the public sector too, are reading up about the cloud and what it brings, and the cost savings that it can actually that it can actually bring to their organisation. And I think resellers are now beginning to understand that, that’s a big opportunity.

There’s another one that I’d like listeners to understand, and that’s wi-fi. There’s a massive opportunity in wi-fi. Because people want information on footfall and customer habits, for example, how many patients are visiting at certain times. And I think that’s an area that a lot of resellers are getting into now.

Kelvin Prescott:

What do you think are the reasons why we don’t see as much business for the resellers within the public sector. Because I think you’ve said a pretty persuasive case where you’ve got local services or kind of local needs, and also that focus on budgetary pressure and finding savings in where we would do business, that there’s a huge role for the reseller market. So why aren’t they stronger in there market right now? What are the obstacles?

Nigel Sergent:

I think it is knowledge. I think it’s understanding. I think it’s also an element of fear. I think they just think that there are too many obstacles to overcome, they become a preferred public sector supplier. But, I think that because resellers have a range of vendors, they have carriers, they have distributors that they’re working with. They have good relationships with those, and they would of attended courses. And they’d be well versed on the latest technologies. So, I think they’re in a great position to offer advice. And they’ll have case studies to share as well. But, I still think there’s too many hurdles to overcome, to become a public sector provider. And I think they need to get a better understanding of the framework initiative, to really understanding the benefits.

I do have to say that, getting paid will be their biggest issue. I understand the public sector is a good payer, but they need to understand that’s the case. And I think they’re also being aware that local Government and the wider public sector contribute around, I think it’s 23% of the spend that goes through the Digital Marketplace. They need to understand that, and how they can become trusted advisors in the public sector space, and work on the recommendations that they’ll get, as a consequence of that. It’s very much a trend that we’re seeing in the space, that resellers are becoming or want to become trusted advisors. And I think there’s a fantastic opportunity in the public sector to make the most of that.

Kelvin Prescott:

I think you’re absolutely right that there’s a big education job that we from a publishing or from a trade body perspective can carry out to educate the buyers. As well as also educate the customers about the potential opportunities.

One of the things I wanted to highlight is the extent to which the convergence of health and social care, and also the big trend towards the evolution of budgets. And allowing both the metropolitan mayors and local councils to be more selective or take greater account of stimulating local business when they’re choosing who to use. That I think the opportunity for resellers and those that specialise in particular parts of the telecoms market, is much greater now than it was say, five or even two or three years ago.

There’s a great opportunity, I think, in terms of where the decision making power exists. It’s much more local. It’s much more centered on metropolitan Mayors or it is on the decision makers within the hospital trust or the community care trusts in the local councils. And they’ve also got routes to market. Getting onto some of these frameworks is much, much easier than it was in the 2000’s. So there’s a great opportunity, but as you say, it’s about that education and people being aware of how they can get access.

Nigel Sergent:

Well that’s really good to know. I hope that there’ll be further communication to the reseller market to get that. For example, I was unaware of the devolution to the Mayors, I think that’s a really good bit of advice to pass on to the channel.

Kelvin Prescott:

Just to draw listeners attention, if you are in the reseller space and you’re looking at your potential strategy in the public sector, then there are resources on the INNOPSIS website that can provide a bit more information about things like what the main frameworks are, and the routes to market, and some of the insights around the conditions and requirements that you have. For example, the provide services into health, and social care in particular.

Nigel, from a Comms Dealer perspective, what are the key things that listeners should be aware of in terms of the information, and insights, and upcoming events that you can offer?

Nigel Sergent:

Well I think the most important thing to get across, from my perspective, is the awards programs that we run. We’re just in the process of announcing our shortlist for the Comms Dealer sales and marketing awards, it rewards resellers sales and marketing teams. So, often they go unrewarded.

But I think in terms of a bigger opportunity for resellers to get really good exposure, and some brand awareness out into the market is throughout, Comm’s National Awards Process, we have an event whereby the solutions that resellers put together are recognised. And these can be right across from the enterprise to the small business spaces. So, you know, we’re talking about big contact centre solutions right down to small wi-fi environments that the resellers have put together for small organisations. So, that’s a great way to get recognised.

We have another event which I think I’d like to mention too, which is the Margin in Voice & Data event that we run in June, which is a great educational and networking event for resellers to get an understanding of what’s happening in the market. And I’m sure that there’ll be talk about public sector opportunities across the day that we’re running at the Forest of Arden in the Midlands. That’s on June the 14th, so that’s a day for the diary. And registration is through the Margin in Voice & Data website. So just Google that, and you’ll get all the information on how to attend that.

Going back to the Awards. The Comms National Awards is something worth looking at. We tend to launch that in August, so a bit more time to get things together on that one. But generally, in terms of information about opportunities, we’ll be running lots of stories about INNOPSIS going forward, and what’s happening in the public sector opportunity rather. So, please register. If you don’t get a regular copy of Comms Dealer, then please go onto our website, which is, where you can register to receive a regular copy of the magazine, which will keep you updated on all the things that are happening in the sector.

Kelvin Prescott:

Thanks. I’m looking forward to hearing about great public sector case studies and success studies at the awards in the years to come. So, thank you for your time Nigel. It’s really good talking to you. And we will bring further update on different opportunities in the public sector, and events in the podcast to come over the course of the coming months.

Nigel Sergent:

Thank you.

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