Telstra is changing how it sells enterprise services, but what's in it for partners?

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Telstra is changing how it sells enterprise services, but what's in it for partners?

Telstra is changing the way it sells enterprise services with the introduction of Telstra Connected Workplace later this year, but what does that mean for channel partners?

The telco announced it was building a new B2B technology stack in June as part of its Telstra2022 strategy, which also saw the announcement that up to 8000 net jobs would be cut over the next three years. With Telstra's renewed focus on automating its sales processes, it's becoming clearer where some of those jobs might be going.

Telstra has been working to stand up the new IT stack over the past 18 months in order to digitise its services. The first of those new digital services is Connected Workplace, a suite of enterprise products covering everything from fixed and mobile, IT, communications, security and network, all of which are consumed on a per-seat subscription basis.

The new stack was built using solutions from a range of vendors, namely Sigma, Oracle Eloqua, Salesforce, CloudSense, Conga, Amdocs, ServiceNow and Aria.

Telstra director of global products Andrew Stormont said there would be significant opportunities for the channel with Connected Workplace.

Telstra's customer profiling indicated that 36,000 business customers could potentially be interested in adopting Connected Workplace, and while Connected Workplace was built with midmarket customers in mind, Stormont said the service could easily scale up and down to enterprise and SMB customers.

Stormont said the service would be Telstra's first from the new technology stack that goes out the door ready for both direct and indirect channels. In the past, products were typically built to be sold direct first, and then retrofitted for the channel.

"The issue that we had back then was the underlying technology stack, both in terms of quoting, ordering, fulfilment and the network stack wasn’t robust enough for it to deliver a quality customer experience, that’s why we made the T22 investments," Stormont said.

"That’s why we can bring it to life whereas before we had to do things like bill suppression, we had to do things manually and there were a lot of swivel-chair processes."

Stormont said that the company has whittled down the number of questions customers need to answer before buying to just three: how many sites, where the sites are and how many seats. "That’s it," Stormont said. "We take care of the bandwidth, the dimensioning, it’s all done. For the indirect channel, it’s a very quick conversation.

The old sales system meant that it would take Telstra up to 30 days to generate a quote and turn it into an order. With Connected Workplace, that has been cut down to just 15 minutes.

"It’s very much where I think we need to head to have success in the midmarket. Large enterprise customers want to have more of a say around devices they’re using, what the calling solution might be. The feedback that we got from the trial was that these customers didn’t care, they wanted it to work, they wanted it to be secure and they wanted to minimise the effort to be able to get it in the first place."

For Telstra's existing enterprise customers, they can move their services across to the new stack when it launches by the end of the year and upgrade their network during the shift or provisioning any other new products on offer.

The service's underlying access is through fibre, but options for NBN and 4G access will be available as well. Customers and channel partners will also have visibility into an order's process throughout the sales cycle, a feature that wasn't available with Telstra's previous infrastructure environment.

Telstra is aiming to launch the fixed seat component of Connected Workplace before Christmas, followed by the mobility and applications components later on.

Telstra Enterprise group executive Brendon Riley pipped out a few more details about the service at Telstra Vantage last week, saying it would be split into three separate categories: office worker, which includes internet data and unlimited voice and video, mobile worker featuring unlimited calls and text, and add-ons, which covers Office 365 provisioning and devices.

"I can honestly say that in the B2B side of the business, we haven't invested much in technology probably for 10 years. So to stand up a new stack and then be able to announce our first new all-digital solution here at Vantage is very exciting," Riley said.

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