Alcatel expands, preps channel certifications

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Telecommunications equipment vendor Alcatel has expanded its local staff and is preparing for a new assault on the SMB market as it looks to move increasingly away from its carrier and large enterprise roots.

"The team in charge of our business in Australia has been doubled," Alcatel Enterprise Solutions Asia Pacific vice president Georges Laplanche said at the opening of the company's annual forum in Paris.

Much of the company's growth in the forthcoming year is forecast to come from the SMB market, which will necessitate something of a change of approach.

"You don't address the needs of an SMB in the same way as you address a large enterprise," said Alcatel Enterprise Solutions president Jean-Christophe Giroux.

"If you're a very small enterprise, you're not going to be expert enough or free enough to pick the right solution."

To attack that segment, Alcatel has paired up with Hewlett-Packard to offer bundles combining its OmniPCX PABX solutions with ProLiant servers. Australia will be the first market outside of Northern Europe to see those packages, which are set for a second-quarter launch locally, according to SMB business development director Beatrice Harrois.

Another new mid-market solution, planned for later in the year, will combine elements of Alcatel's low-end OmniPCXOffice and high-end Genesys call centre management systems.

Alcatel is also making some changes to its channel certification program. Later this year, it will introduce a range of skills-based certification for partners, in line with its increasing emphasis on applications rather than straightforward hardware sales.

The French vendor is hoping that its entirely indirect model will demonstrate its loyalty to the channel community. "We rely on business partners to drive our success," said Giroux. "We are the only vendor whose success in IP telephony is driven 100 percent by the channel."

Giroux talked up the potential of managed communications services as a means of bringing extra dollars into resellers. "It's a way to keep in contact regularly with customers, maintain loyalty and increase revenues," he said.

Angus Kidman visited Paris as a guest of Alcatel and Nexon.

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