Transcript for UC Summit 2011 Podcast: ScanSource Communications
Dave Michels: This is Dave Michels; I am at the UC Summit in La Jolla, California sitting down with Brian Cuppett, Vice President of Sales at ScanSource Communications. This is ScanSource’s second year at the UC Summit, is that correct?
Brian Cuppett: Correct.
Dave Michels: But it is your first year, is that right?
Brian Cuppett: Yes, it has been my first time here at UC Summit; it’s been great time, though—meeting a lot of partners.
Dave Michels: So my first question is, the UC Summit is really geared toward resellers and consultants, why is ScanSource here?
Brian Cuppett: Well, we are hopefully a good partnering opportunity for a lot of the folks here, whether they be consultants or resellers. In the UC space today, there are lots of opportunities out there, but a lot of questions to be answered and a lot of areas where we can help partners get involved, again, whether they are consultants or resellers. We’re here to look at partnerships to get new resellers that aren’t involved in unified communications involved today; we can work through getting them onboarded, certified, and tested on the different platforms that we represent and then also, from a standpoint of enabling existing partners. If an existing partner is already involved with Avaya or Microsoft or IBM as far as their UC solutions, we have some of the key components as part of the vendors that we partner with that we provide, not only the products, but more importantly the expertise and the services and know how to help those partners work well with those vendors in implementing their UC solutions.
Dave Michels: Now, I have heard some of the conversations you have been having with some folks and I hear the word Microsoft Lync or the term Microsoft Lync come up quite often in these conversations, which is confusing me because as far as I know you’re not selling Microsoft Lync at ScanSource.
Brian Cuppett: That’s correct, so Microsoft’s model—they work through some of the large VARs that they sell their licensing through. Our role is, we work with our resellers partners that typically are buying the licensing from those LARs for all the other components necessarily for the multi-vendor solution around Microsoft Lync.
Dave Michels: What kind of components?
Brian Cuppett: Components on the gateway products, which enable the existing PBX’s to connect to used links, so products like AudioCodes, Dialogic, NET, are our gateway partners that are already Lync certified in those solutions and we provide support and backend help for our partners to understand how those work in that connectivity. And then, from a standpoint of endpoints, whether they be Plantronics on headsets, with their whole UC program and platform around their headset products to work with Lync. And then also, Polycom, whether it's their endpoints, their video systems, or their infrastructure bridging products we’re a key component for large enterprise solutions, based on Microsoft Lync.
Dave Michels: Now, I know that ScanSource is a primary distributor for Polycom. At the UC Summit, we talked a lot about unified communications, but a lot of that context is around the voice offerings centered in that. Polycom doesn’t offer a voice solution directly, so are you talking to dealers here about Polycom?
Brian Cuppett: Yes, absolutely. We are Polycom’s largest worldwide distribution partner and they play an important role in the UC solution. Polycom’s open collaboration network – a number of the partners you just mention: Avaya, Siemens, IBM, Microsoft, are all large players and large partners with Polycom. So in order for them to deliver the true UC solution, they need to partner and bring Polycom solutions. Whether they be Polycom endpoints, phones, video systems, as well as their infrastructure solutions in the background to help pool the large collaboration opportunities for a multi-point collaboration using Polycom as the backbone for that collaboration piece.
Dave Michels: And the voice parts of Polycom?
Brian Cuppett: So the CX phones and their existing conference phones are all used and integrated in those UC solutions and are key components, whether it be Lync or IBM or in some areas, a lot of the conference phones are still used through partners like Siemens and Avaya.
Dave Michels: A program that you talked about the other day, called SUMO, that doesn’t seem to be a term I hear very often in UC, can you explain SUMO?
Brian Cuppett: It's our creative name for our partner program, which is a sort of a Match.com, if you will. For us it plays an important role. We think that partnering is a key to the success of unified communications, because not every reseller or every business practice is going to be able to afford to have engineers that know IBM, that have engineers that know Avaya, and engineers that know Microsoft, engineers that know all these different components that are going to come up in many customer opportunities. SUMO is an engine – a partner engine – that allows our customers to go out and register and become affiliates of the program. So therefore, other resellers can research that solution and know that existing partners of ScanSource look at their affiliations and their credentials and understand if that is someone who – hey I could use them for a partnership opportunity – whether it's by geography; it's open to our international group, as well. So it's not only North American-based, but also international-based, so if you are looking for partners in all parts of the world with the expertise areas that you need, you can go to SUMO to look up those types of partners to try and build those relationships.
Dave Michels: So SUMO helps partners find partners – is this only applicable on projects that they are purchasing product from ScanSource?
Brian Cuppett: It isn’t. There are other affiliations out there actually for things like racks or other products that complete solutions that we don’t actually sell. And typically, that is a referral from an existing partner who had a good experience with another partner. And we have a rating system on there, so that similar to some of the other online sites that you might be familiar with in using – if you purchase things – so we ask partners if they do a partnership opportunity, that they rate the other partners, so that you have sort of an existing rating model so that you know which partners are doing a lot of partnering with others.
Dave Michels: You know I have to say I think that is pretty original. I don’t know of any distributor that is helping partners find partners. I can’t think – so much of the industry we copy what other people do that works, but I think this is pretty original. Do you know of anyone else doing this?
Brian Cuppett: Not in the way that we are doing it. I think there are some – you can find other partners, but not really digging in depth to get the expertise in areas around the specifics that we’re trying to match – match these partners together.
Dave Michels: Well that’s great. If I was a dealer and I wanted to work with ScanSource, are there restrictions, limitations – how do dealers become customers of ScanSource?
Brian Cuppett: We only work with reselling partners for one, so we don’t sell to end users, but our job is to onboard resellers that either are new to the space and we can get them certified and up and running on the different solutions that we represent for the different manufacturers that we represent. Or for existing partners – we can offer that expertise – it's simply picking up a phone and calling our business development team to get things started with us, but part of our job in this UC space and why we’re here is to know that we’re responsible for bringing partners, onboarding them, and getting them certified. We are the only distribution partner for Polycom that actually has the ability to provide certification classes on behalf of Polycom, to provide the certifications needed to do the bridging and infrastructure products that are part of the backbone of some of these UC solutions that we talked about for IBM, Microsoft, and Avaya.
Dave Michels: That’s great. Thank you Brian, I hope you have a good conference.
Brian Cuppett: Thanks Dave, good to meet you.
(See also on UCStrategies.com: ScanSource Introduces SUMO Partner Matching Tool - UC Newsroom)