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Telarus Discusses Digital Transformation Ahead of Expert Panel at CP Expo 2024

Digital transformation

Adam Edwards, Telarus: Interview Transcript

Craig: “All right. Hey again, everyone. Channel Futures Editorial Director Craig Galbraith here, looking forward to the upcoming Channel Partners Conference and Expo and MSP Summit, just a little more than a week away at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Chance today to talk with Adam Edwards. Adam is CEO with Telarus, an official sponsor of Channel Partners”.

“And of course, we'll have another great booth to stop by in the Expo Hall. How are you doing, Adam?” 

Adam: “Fantastic, Craig. Looking forward to the show.”

Craig: “Absolutely. So am I. And in fact, I mentioned that booth. We were just talking; I understand that this is the largest booth we've ever had in the expo hall. So it's going to be pretty exciting.”

Adam: “Well, you know, it's, it's the biggest show of the year. And I think it's an important time for us to be able to engage with our partners and you know, show them some of the things we've been doing on their behalf to help them grow their businesses.”

Craig: “Absolutely. We'll look forward to seeing that.”

Craig: “So, Adam, let's start off with a panel that you're going to be on, an expert panel of top execs from technology service brokerages and distributors. Talking about this evolution of your business model, I’m wondering, with a partner community that's growing increasingly more diverse, how do you communicate those changes effectively?”

Optimizing Supplier Selection

Adam: “You know, it's tough. The overall message is, number one, we're committed to them and helping them grow their business. That's been our focus from day one. It continues to be our focus – how can we help them adapt and address the current market. And in doing that, you know, it's come across in so many different ways over the years. Once upon a time, it was: ‘how can we help them quote faster?’ ‘How can we help them find where the fiber is?’ Today, it's much more about supplier selection and how you put the best technology in front of a customer. So it goes through a lot more engineering. There's a lot more discovery. There's a lot more data involved in helping them.”

“There's also things that may seem simple, but are not. (For example), on time and accurate commission delivery and helping coaching them on their businesses. And when you get all of these different diverse businesses, while they have different. Things that make the move, whether they're an MSP or a true advisor or a VAR trying to adapt to this model that while they approach it in different ways, they generally need the same things and communicating those things.”

“I think sometimes you have to use it differently to speak to them. Example being a VAR. You know, they're focused much more on gross margin and how they comp their people and how they keep their customer rather than the best new technology. Then for an advisor, there are different things there.”

“So different modes of, of really the same message, which is how can we help you look great in front of your customer and be successful?” 

Business Enablement Over Distribution

Craig: “Yeah, we'll look forward to that panel. So Adam, specifically regarding growth, can you share any of Telarus plans for 2024 as there continues to be consolidation in your space?”

Adam: “You know, I think the space will continue to consolidate. Any high fixed cost business, an airline or railroad you know, a distributor. It's going to be the same thing. I consider us more of a business enablement company than a distributor. We don't really have products that we physically distribute.”

“But if you look at those fixed costs – data infrastructure, software – the things that we're building. There are tremendous fixed costs that really get scale from consolidation. And while I don't see any news on the immediate horizon things are beginning to stabilize. But I think also people are starting to question, you know, is this the right model for them?”

“We committed long ago that this is the best model and we think we can shine as we get scale. And that's why the acquisitions in the past years. [These are about]  getting the scale so that we can provide the services, the solutions, the tools that our partners need, not just today. But tomorrow, and that's what 2024 is all about.”

“I think our 2023 setup was great in terms of our data infrastructure, some of the things that we are going to be coming out within 2024 in the ways in which we support and help our advisors are going to be based on that foundation we built in 2023.”

Artificial Intelligence Taking Center Stage

Craig: “Yeah, and that's a great segue into my next question.Growth in your tech practice areas. You know, you surged through the top of AT& T's top partners last year. You've had a number of wins in customer experience or CX as well. I'm wondering, what are the areas that are the hottest where you see the most areas for your partner community to grow?”

Adam: “You know, this is a very unsatisfying answer, but the answer is everything. And here's why I say that, Craig. Everyone wants to talk AI right now. In fact, we had a record breaking event today with an incredible amount of interest from partners and providers about AI. Well, guess what? It wasn't just AI companies asking ‘can I buy some AI from you?’ It's AI enabled companies. So it's everywhere.”

A Highlight on Digital Transformation

“It's UCaaS. It's security. And the real question is: ‘how can we use AI within those product segments to better help our partners?’ So, you know, everyone wants to forget about Network. It was just what got us here. And we want to talk about AI. We want to talk about the next product that's gonna come through.”

“The answer is, it’s digital transformation, it's really about what the customer needs, and it starts with Network. And so we're seeing growth in every one of those categories. Network is still our largest category. You know, everyone wants to talk about CX, everyone wants to talk about security and all these things, which absolutely are growing. Security was our biggest growing area last year and still is the Granddaddy of Network”.

“Digital transformation takes all those things. I think the bigger story is not which product, it's the model. It's that customers want to talk to an advisor. When I have business risk and I have career risk in making a decision, this is not something I go and point and click. And I think a lot of people have been deceived by [the notion that] everyone's just going to point and click in a portal. And when you have business risk, real enterprise risk and real career risk of making a wrong decision, then you're going to want someone who's been there done that, and that's the advisor model every day.”

Branching Out Into the IT Consulting Space

Craig: “That is a great way to look at it. Absolutely. So you've been eyeing the IT consulting space as a big opportunity for your agent partners. Wondering how that's different from where your tech advisors have historically played and what you're doing to enable them?”

Adam: “So I think what we're doing is meeting that IT Consultancy where they are. We're seeing some of these IT Consultants want to embrace this model. And what's really interesting to me is some of them get very hung up on the payment, the revenue model of this industry and see that as: ‘hey, maybe that makes me unbiased. Maybe I can't be a consultant anymore because I need to charge for hours’.”

“Well, I view it as pure alignment with the customer's outcome of the way you get paid is when the customer is happy. Not because you sold the engagement, not because you build a couple of hours to give them some good answers and a nice readout but you are actually with them and engaged and make sure that you gave them the right thing and that's the only way you're compensated. It's pure alignment. with the customer and with the supplier, quite candidly. And so I think what's happening with our advisors is they are becoming those IT consultants. But, as it becomes similar to that model, those IT consultants are embracing this model. So we're seeing both.”

Craig: “Adam, excited to see you in that big Telarus team that always comes to Channel Partners here in well, like I say, just a little more than a week. Thanks for joining me today on Channel Futures TV.”

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