Technology is progressing at an astounding rate—threatening to leave behind any company that cannot keep up. Business in Focus sat down with Kevin Leonard, Vice President of Alternate Channels, AT&T National Business, to learn more about the evolving communications landscape and how AT&T is helping customers stay one step ahead.
“The pace of change in technology is accelerating, and it is accelerating rapidly,” Mr. Leonard shares. “That has a profound impact on the way businesses need to operate to succeed. For businesses to be successful, they must embrace that technology, those trends that are happening. If not, they are going to fall behind.”
Because AT&T is at the forefront of technological advancements in connectivity, the company has the support systems in place that customers need to remain relevant. “We are helping shape those technology trends with what we are doing. We are helping businesses transform themselves because we are transforming ourselves. That is what it is all about.”
The evolving landscape
Mobile connectivity, the cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are three key technologies that are redefining how business is done. Constantly advancing, today’s mobile technology is light years ahead of what cellular phones could achieve just a few years ago. At the same time, the cloud is revolutionizing the way we store and access information.
“It [the cloud] is growing fast, and it is changing the way businesses do business. And it is going to continue to grow because it provides tremendous economic advantages for businesses both large and small,” said Mr. Leonard.
The stuff of science fiction just a few years ago, IoT is also skyrocketing in use and significance. “It is exploding. Millions of devices are joining our network every month.”
In today’s brave new world, mobile devices act as fully networked computers. Everyday objects connect to the Internet—giving greater access to information than ever before—and data is stored hundreds of miles from a customer’s hard drive.
“You take these three realities together and businesses can apply—with help—the right analytics,” Mr. Leonard points out. “They can literally enhance the way they do business and the value they bring to customers. AT&T is all about enabling businesses to take advantage of those trends.”
As leading experts, AT&T can walk companies through this rapidly developing technological landscape.
“How do you gain access to [new connectivity solutions]? How do you make sure those connections are highly reliable and secure? How can you trust a mission critical application? We can help solve all that for businesses,” Mr. Leonard says. “We are all about connecting people, processes and assets in a simple, highly secure and reliable way.”
Indeed, creating new and better connections is the central purpose of this massive, multinational corporation. “Everyone at AT&T gets up every day and figures out, ‘how do we connect people to their world wherever they live, work, and play—and how do we do it better than anyone else?’” said Mr. Leonard. “We are helping businesses change the way they do business.” The end result is nothing less than revolutionary.
AT&T’s customers operate across all sectors and range from mom and pop start-ups to the Fortune 500 giants. “We have relationships with over 3.5 million businesses today. Businesses both large and small understand the value we are bringing them, and they are choosing to do business with us.”
With virtually every business as a potential customer, AT&T relies on a dedicated global sales network to reach a wide swath of companies.
“We have many avenues to reach our customers and for our customers to reach us,” Mr. Leonard explains. “To start with, we have a large and incredibly talented direct sales force. They are great at what they do. They are trusted advisors to their customers.”
In addition to this internal sales force, AT&T collaborates with other companies to “help ensure we can serve each and every customer. As big as we are, we realize we can’t reach everyone. It just is not possible. So third-party distribution is very important to our distribution mix.”
The AT&T Alliance Channel is a critical component of that third-party distribution mix, enabling external solution providers to collaborate with AT&T. Both parties bring unique value, creating a symbiotic relationship. “The solution provider brings certain expertise, we bring certain expertise, and the business customer benefits from a truly integrated solution,” says Mr. Leonard.
Solution providers become an extension of the AT&T team while still remaining independent companies. This means that when customers deal with an AT&T Alliance Channel solution provider, they are actually interfacing with AT&T.
“They are representing us. We support them as one of our own. Together we are more powerful.”
As fully supported collaborators, Alliance Channel solution providers enjoy access to AT&T’s leading-edge technologies as well as increased sales opportunities. “We provide solution providers tremendous value because, if they are in the Alliance Channel, they have access to nearly all of AT&T’s leading-edge solutions. This is important as it allows solution providers to bring together a fully integrated solution for their customers.”
Building relationships to create new opportunities
Creating new opportunities while respecting longstanding relationships is key to the Alliance Channel’s success. Many solution providers have been doing business with their customers for a lengthy period of time, becoming trusted advisors in the process. By building on these existing relationships, rather than muscling in and competing against them, AT&T is able to reach more businesses.
“It helps us expand distribution into places where we may not have it – places where customers have been doing business with other firms for many, many years. It empowers both of us. We help them, they help us.”
This empowerment extends to the customer, creating what Mr. Leonard calls a “win-win-win” situation.
“It benefits the solution provider, it benefits AT&T, but most importantly it benefits the customer because they have the full power of AT&T solutions, [while] working with someone they have been working with… for many years that they trust.”
When customers have the full power of AT&T solutions at their fingertips, they can easily navigate the distracting maze of technology and get back to business.
“Businesses want to focus on what they do,” Mr. Leonard points out, “What we do is help bring the integrated technology they need to best serve their customers. They don’t want to worry about if they are on a Wi-Fi network, if they are on a mobile network, if they are riding over fiber. Wherever they are, they want to have access to the information they need to make their business decisions. They want to have access to the information they need to solve their customer’s problem to provide value to that customer. That is what AT&T can do for them.”
AT&T has a long history of solving problems and providing value through an innovative, integrated solution. The team is eager to maintain this leading position.
“We’ve assembled the assets to position us as the premier integrated solution provider in the world.”
Whether through its direct sales force, or through Alliance Channel solution providers, AT&T will keep alleviating the pressure that twenty-first century companies face in today’s technological arms race.
“A company can basically transform what they do for their customer without worrying about how [the technology] works,” Mr. Leonard summarizes. “It is going to be simple, it is going to be highly secure, it is going to work, and we are going to make it seamless for them.”