5 Years of Innovation with AT&T Partner Exchange

February 20, 2018
By Randall Porter

It’s been 5 years since we launched the AT&T Partner Exchange program. It’s unreal to even type that sentence. It feels like a lifetime ago. At the same time, it feels like it was only yesterday.

We changed the game when we created this program. We were the first vendor program to offer a true business-to-business wireline and mobile resell opportunity. And we’re still the only reseller program of our kind. This all started with nothing more than some research and an idea in late 2012. After a frantic and exciting 90 days, we were ready to launch.

The Launch

We launched our program Feb. 20, 2013 with 5 solution providers. I remember the day vividly. Several of us were around a table at the AT&T Foundry in Plano, Texas, in a room we now call “Deal Maker.” We were working to finalize the legalese in our master reseller agreement. That probably doesn’t sound like the most exciting memory… But, once the docs were done, we were launched. Most importantly, that meant we could officially sign up partners!

Brooks McCorcle, our leader at the time, sensed there wasn’t enough buzz in the room considering what we were about to accomplish.

“We need more cowbell!” she exclaimed, and raced out to a local music store to get… an actual cowbell. We rang the cowbell that day for each of our first 5 solution providers. And we still ring it every time a partner has a significant win in the program. We even use a cowbell to award our highest-achieving solution providers in the program each year at the annual AT&T Partner Exchange Summit. We are definitely ringing it today as well.

Solution providers embraced the dynamic, collaborative nature of our program.

We now have over 600 solution providers in the AT&T Partner Exchange. Our program is growing because business is transforming. There are many business owners who want access to the power of AT&T, but prefer to buy their services through a solution provider.

Solution providers bring an in-depth knowledge of the industry, expansive market reach and strong relationships with customers.

The partners: Creative Technology Partners (CTP)

CTP is one of the companies that’s been with us from the start. When we say we “put solution providers at the center of our program,” that whole mindset started with CTP and several others. Their feedback helped shape the program from conception to launch.

I recently spoke with Rick Duran, CTP’s executive vice president of Sales, about why they joined.

“The reseller model resonated because we heard customers telling us they like doing business with trusted partners. At the end of the day, customers like to deal with people. It’s a people business,” Rick told me. “In AT&T Partner Exchange, we have more control of the end-to-end experience for the customer, from quote, all the way through invoicing.”

CTP is one of many solution providers that sells the full portfolio of AT&T products and solutions we offer, from edge to edge.

The products and tools

We’re committed – and have always been committed – to our solution providers’ success. For them to succeed, simply put, we have to enable them to sell our products. So, nearly every time we launch a new product, we launch it as a trial with a small group of solution providers to test and learn before a broader rollout.

MetTel, for instance, has participated in many of our trials. One of our program’s biggest milestones was the launch of our mobility program. MetTel was instrumental in its implementation, offering input that helped shape the program before its launch. From what Max Silber tells me, our program has led to big success for MetTel, too. Max is MetTel’s vice president of mobility.

“It’s a refreshing perspective to be able to work so closely with a large organization like AT&T, leading to so much success. The culture that AT&T Partner Exchange created within AT&T is highly collaborative and open to new ideas and concepts. It’s very much in line with MetTel’s culture and best practices,” Max told me. “The flexibility of providing the complete portfolio of AT&T services and seamless automation through APIs helps us deliver the level of service our customers expect.” 

Early on, our solution providers told us that they needed flexible, automated tools to best serve their customers. That’s why we launched our open Application Programming Interface (API) platform. Unique to our program, our APIs let solution providers access our systems to offer their customers customized services and support.

We’re still adding to the portfolio, with more than a dozen wireline and wireless APIs now available. For instance, this month, we’re launching an API to make it easier for solution providers to manage orders of AT&T Internet Access using their native applications.

The future

From a technology perspective, I’d recommend our solution providers keep an eye on fiber. AT&T is the largest U.S.-based provider of fiber for businesses nationwide. As we expand our fiber network, solution providers should be ready to jump at the opportunity.

With the launch of our new shared internet API, solution providers in our program can sell a fiber-rich AT&T Internet Access portfolio. With it, they can now offer businesses and consumers blazing-fast internet service with speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). What exactly does that look like? With these speeds, a business can:

  • Download 8,000 word processing documents in 1 second.
  • Download a 2-hour high-definition video in 36 seconds.
  • Backup/restore a 1-terabyte hard drive in 2.5 hours.

And it should be no surprise we’re focused on Internet of Things (IoT) opportunities.

We started offering IoT solutions through our program 2 years ago, after a trial with 6 of our solution providers. In 2017, we launched a slew of new IoT resources. Now, I’m excited to see how our partners find new ways to make the most of IoT.

For instance, MetTel tells me they’ve seen “explosive growth through 2017 and into early 2018,” especially in the transportation and healthcare verticals. Now, they’re working with other industries to pilot new applications for IoT.

Check out the video above to see how Pavo Communications’ customer Smith Limo is using AT&T Fleet Complete to grow its business. Fleet Complete is a full end-to-end IoT solution.

In October, we hosted our 4th annual AT&T Partner Exchange Summit. This is always our biggest event of the year, and 2017 was our largest yet. It’s when we bring all our program members together to share best practices, gain insights from industry leaders and celebrate their successes. I was struck, looking around the room, by what a tremendous, vibrant community we have built together. The energy and enthusiasm in the room was electric.

The last 5 years have been all about transformation and building a foundation for long-term, explosive growth. We have grown from 5 initial partners to well over 600. And we’re not stopping there. Looking ahead, the future is even brighter as AT&T Business is transforming and focusing, more than ever, on our indirect channels.

Here’s to the next 5 years!

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Randall Porter, vice president, AT&T Partner Exchange

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