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BT Wholesale exposes digital shift opportunity

Comms player exposes customer investment plans and the importance of channel relationships

Customers are looking to upgrade their telephony systems, and many are happy to work with their existing channel partners to do so, according to research from BT Wholesale.

With the public switched telephone network (PSTN) switch-off coming by December 2025, users’ minds are starting to concentrate on the question of their telephony strategy.

BT Wholesale wanted to find out what that meant for channel partners, and went out to ask customers how they were feeling. It found that 70% of businesses are looking to invest in mobile connectivity this year – and many are also likely to do that with their existing partner relationships, with 88% of those quizzed satisfied with their technology provider.

There is still some education for the channel to do, with 29% of customers admitting they still don’t understand the benefits of choosing an all-IP strategy.

BT is encouraging its channel to start talking to customers about spending now, because the research has made it clear there’s an appetite for investment, despite cost-cutting and budget pressures.

Mobile connectivity was the top area where investment was being considered, but security, digital phone lines and broadband were also high on the agenda for users.

Before the pandemic struck, the channel was starting to ramp up messaging around the PSTN switch-off and the need for customers to have an answer to that inevitable development. The BT research indicated there’s still an effort to be made on that front. A third of customers have prioritised a move to digital, IP options.

Moving forward

Gavin Jones, channel partners director at BT Wholesale, said it was reassuring to see how many customers were feeling positive about their IT provider, because that relationship would be important in helping users move forward.

“It’s great to see that businesses are generally happy with their technology providers – channel partners work hard to build value-adding customer relationships,” he said. “But the findings highlight how important it is to keep an open dialogue with customers to fully understand how to best service their needs. It’s all about providing a consultative sales approach backed by ease of doing business.

“What’s more, with the PSTN switch-off fast approaching, it’s clear channel partners must work to spark UK businesses’ digital imagination and help them understand how the move to IP can future-proof and unlock new opportunities,” said Jones. “It’s the end of the line for PSTN, so if you’re not doing it, a competitor is already trying to.”

The other theme that emerged from the BT Wholesale research was the importance of channel marketing, to the existing base and as a means of growing fresh prospects.

Jones said the firm is prepared to support its channel with technology as well as out-of-the-box campaigns to ensure success.

“All of our partners need to focus on is their customer relationships and the opportunities in front of them,” he added. “It’s our job to help supercharge growth.”

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