Will Morey, CEO of EnableX, is encouraging resellers to make the most of the Group’s expanded offering and seize the opportunities presented by massive take-up of cloud collaboration solutions like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Ericsson-LG iPECS, Google Workspace and Webex by Cisco
A new power in the distribution world was born in March, with the creation of EnableX from the merger of Pragma, exclusive UK distributor of Ericsson LG unified communication solutions, Candio, a provider of white-label digital services, and Techland, a Value Added Distributor of UC enablement products and managed services for Ribbon Communications (amongst others).
Since then, CEO Will Morey and CFO Dean Mayer, previously owner of Techland, have been integrating the three companies and developing their respective product offerings to provide new opportunities for resellers – especially the group’s 120 Pragma resellers.
Will Morey co-founded Pragma in 2012 to distribute the Ericsson LG PBX, with the objective of eventually becoming a cloud business, which it now largely is, following the introduction of the iPECS cloud proposition in 2016.
“That grew very, very quickly and was clearly accelerated by the pandemic, as many of these things were, to the point where we’re now almost exclusively a cloud UCaaS (unified communications as a service) provider. We’ve got approximately 100,000 subscribers on the platform, who consume that service.”
In 2020, Morey built a separate business, Candio, to meet demand from resellers for digital products that they could add to their portfolio to increase recurring revenue and stickiness with customers.
“We came up with the idea of finding very high value products at a very low cost that we could push out through digital campaigns and which people were happy to have added to their bill. Our first service was something called Web Listings. What that does essentially is enable a business to manage all of its online identity through a single portal (e.g. Apple Maps, Facebook, Instagram, Google Business Profile), create that entry once and then broadcast it out.
“We saw that grow incredibly. At the end of our first year, we had added 50,000 business subscribers to the platform, and we have continued that kind of growth trajectory this year, while adding new services like Dark Web Monitoring.
“The important thing to understand about those two businesses is that they’re 100% channel. Everything we do is through resellers. We are a 100% reseller business and always optimise every business process and every aspect of what we do to serve the reseller.”
Morey was exploring ways to keep growing the two businesses when he met Dean Mayer, owner of Techland, a longstanding business (it will be 40 in March 2023) with strong parallels to Pragma in that it has huge amounts of specialism, capability and support invested in one vendor, in its case Ribbon, and a 100% channel approach.
“There was immediately a sense of being two very similar businesses with a similar culture and a similar outlook. We both believe in strength in depth and capability and expertise. Resellers want an expert on the end of the phone, not someone who knows a tiny amount about 50 different products.”
In March, the three companies came together, creating a group with 50 employees (35 from Pragma/Candio and 15 from Techland) and a community of 250 resellers, with Dean Mayer taking on the role of CFO and Morey taking over the role of CEO from Pragma co-founder Tim Brooks, who has a shareholding but no leadership role in the merged entity.
“EnableX started off as a trading group name,” explains Morey, “but it has become more and more relevant to everything we’re doing, because we’ve seen a huge amount of crossover between the different businesses – Pragma with its Ericsson LG UCaaS technology, Candio with its software as a service, high impact subscription products and Techland with Ribbon and its products.”
This has given resellers more opportunities to address the needs of their customers at a time when the role of the reseller has never been more important in helping organisations develop a strategy for digital transformation and new ways
“We live in a world of change, but, actually, we believe some things are constant and don’t change, like businesses wanting a trusted adviser who really works to understand their business and deliver bespoke, customised technology.
“If you’re a metal fabrication company, you probably don’t want to spend all your time thinking about how technology works; you probably want to focus on doing what you’re really good at. So the reseller, I think, has remained the constant in the market. They’re as relevant today as they were 10 years ago when we started our business because they’re able to be that trusted adviser to so many businesses.
“That role of trusted advisor hasn’t changed – being able to take a multitude of different technologies from the voice world, from productivity applications like Office 365, through to the data network and connectivity, to the mobile phone contract and pulling all those bits and pieces together into a coherent technology strategy. That is what our resellers absolutely excel at.”
Secure IP communications
Today, those technology strategies increasingly involve collaboration and communication via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google and Webex by Cisco, which makes Techland’s offering of Ribbon session border controllers (SBCs) and direct routing-as-a-service technologies an exciting option for Pragma resellers looking to secure and strengthen IP communications across hybrid and dispersed workforces.
“Both SBCs and routing platforms are essential if you’re looking at multi-site, multinational deployments, irrespective of how big or small individual sites are. They answer the question of how you secure voice within a cloud-based environment, especially where you have multi-site, multi-country applications and offices with different requirements at different times of day in terms of bandwidth or where calls need to be generated from or go to,” explains Kevin Baynes, Head of Channels, APAC & EMEA at Ribbon.
To help its entire reseller community take advantage of Ribbon’s offering, EnableX has now integrated the Pragma and Techland propositions and is already seeing orders for solutions that bring together different elements from its broader technology offering.
“We had one of the first truly integrated sales of our cloud proposition at the end of October. With our Ericsson LG product, we provide the ability for a reseller to build what we call a virtual service provider, where they take dedicated cloud UCaaS technology and offer that to their customer base. This deal was the first one to have
a Ribbon SBC embedded into it, enabling the reseller essentially to have an SBC-as- a-service proposition as well. They could terminate all their SIP trunks into that and link the Ribbon SBC with our server infrastructure and Ericsson LG.”
This is a big step forward for EnableX, as historically there has been little overlap between the Pragma and Techland reseller communities. Indeed, for Morey, this was one of the big attractions of the merger.
“We took our reseller customer lists and we overlaid them and said ‘where’s the crossover?’ and there was almost none. Ribbon’s focus has been very much more on the enterprise – mid-market through
to enterprise – whereas within Pragma our focus has been much more on SME through to mid-market. Now, we’re seeing Pragma move up and do more in the enterprise space and we’re working on taking Ribbon down into the mid-market space and making sure we’ve got really attractive propositions there.”
Ribbon itself has grown through a series of mergers and acquisitions over the last 10 years, starting with Sonus Networks’ acquisition of Network Equipment Technologies (NET) in 2012, which added enterprise expertise to Sonus’s focus on service providers like BT, France Telecom and Orange, followed in 2017 by a merger between Sonus and Genband to create Ribbon Communications.
Genband also had a significant installed base on the service provider side of the market, but it hadn’t developed cloud technology to the extent that Sonus had. Nor did it have a presence in the enterprise space.
The coming together of these two businesses provided an opportunity to upgrade their combined installed base to cloud-based applications and services and to approach both ends of the market through a network of partners across EMEA.
Today, Ribbon’s service provider business accounts for about 80% of
its annual revenues of $840-$870 million. This includes Ribbon’s IP optical transmission business which provides the big pipes between data centres for critical infrastructure and big service providers and is largely separate from the company’s voice play. Sales to enterprises, financial institutions, insurance companies and other verticals make up the remaining 20%.
Techland has been a distributor for Ribbon/Sonos for the last 12 years, specialising in its SBCs and routing platforms. As Ribbon’s only Platinum distributor in EMEA, it is commercially and technically qualified to sell and support the company’s entire portfolio.
EnableX is now looking to leverage this relationship by developing an SBC-as-a- service proposition suitable for smaller, agile single-site businesses (as much as multi-site or international ones) that may want to provide Teams or Zoom integration through a Ribbon SBC and Ribbon infrastructure and pay a subscription rather than investing in upfront cost.
It is also creating bundles to make life easier for Pragma resellers and help them capitalise on the massive opportunity presented by the take-up of cloud collaboration solutions.
“From the outside, even a session border controller can appear quite complex or the preserve of large enterprise customers. We’re working on demystifying the SBC and making it much simpler for a reseller business to engage with. We’re building out simple bundled propositions and saying ‘If you want to enable voice in a Cisco WebEx environment, here is a Ribbon proposition that makes that really, really simple for you’; ‘If you want to look at how you can work with your Avaya or Mitel legacy base of customers and enable them to work better and integrate those technologies into a Teams or a Zoom world, here is a really simple proposition with professional services capability attached to it that your salespeople can sell without having to get into huge levels of complexity’.
“We’re building out those propositions quite rapidly so that when a reseller’s customer says ‘I’ve got this established legacy infrastructure that I’ve spent a fortune on; how can I move it into this new world?’ we’re able to offer a very simple package proposition that they can take and then apply a professional services capability and a Ribbon product to it that enables customers to adopt new technologies at their own pace.
“It all goes back to that enabler role we play. We can effectively bolt that very, very specialist capability Techland offers onto those 120 Pragma reseller businesses and become a natural extension to their team. When they need that extra bit of support or that understanding of what product would fit where, we can provide it.
For Morey, EnableX is the linchpin that ties together the complementary strengths of resellers and vendors, including Ribbon.
“You’ve got Ribbon with the R&D capability, the market foresight and the brand to drive into the enterprise. You’ve got the reseller with the local relationships, the feet on the ground, the skill set and that trusted relationship. And what we do is sit between those two and provide that multiplier factor, taking the great skills out of Ribbon and multiplying those into the reseller community to really drive market share and adoption of their technology.”