IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Powering Up Complementary Electric Sales

IT solution providers see green IT – the art of making data centers and computing devices more energy efficient and eco-friendly – as a potential boon for business. As energy costs rise and resources constrict, they are being called upon to consolidate rack space, create less power hungry data centers and install better cooling systems. While being “green” is often a derivative of smart IT projects, it is nonetheless a differentiator for solution providers who can deliver.

Ah, but is being green the only way that solution providers can capitalize on energy and power? The answer is no. IT solution providers need only look to their cousins in the telecom channel for ideas on how to drive revenue with complementary sales.

While I was preparing for the Channel Partners Conference in Washington, D.C., this week, I really didn’t know what to expect. My familiarity with the telecom channel is somewhat limited, so this was intended as an education and awareness trip on my part. I wanted to learn about the relationships between carriers, master agents and resellers, and how telecom solution providers were venturing into IT sales. I learned a lot about how the telecom channel operates, and will share more about it in the future here and on Channelnomics.com. For now, I’m going to focus on energy.

I guess you could call what the telecom solution providers are doing is “Green IT,” but it’s really more synergic or complementary sales exploitation. A number of these resellers are augmenting their sales and revenue by selling energy services. The idea is relatively simple: If they’re at a customer selling broadband connectivity and telephony solutions, why not sell another utility service such as electricity.

Check out the services of these solution providers.

Outreach Telecom and Energy of Egg Harbor, N.J., provides clients with ShoreTel phone systems, IBM-based IT solutions, and network design and management services. It also provides energy audits, cap and trade carbon management solutions and services, and energy planning and optimization consultation services.

Energent, a subsidiary of World Telecom Group, is purely an energy services company. It provides customers with energy management solutions, access to electricity and natural gas suppliers, energy demand management tools, and cost management services.

Mint Energy of Woburn, Mass., sells variable and fixed-cost electricity services through channel partners, mostly telecom solution providers, to commercial and industrial customers. Its offerings include private-labeled services that enable solution providers to look and act like a power utility.

Blue Star Energy of Chicago is a retail electricity supplier that works through solution providers in the delivery of utility services and green energy to businesses in deregulated power markets.

These suppliers, solution providers and resellers gave a Willie Sutton answer for why they sell telecom and electricity services: because that’s where the money is. Just as IT solution providers expand their sales footprint within existing customers by selling products that enhance or complement existing technologies, the telecom channel has figured out that they can sell electricity alongside telephony and broadband because the service model is basically the same.

What the vendors and solution providers at the Channel Partners Conference demonstrate is that sales and revenue opportunities aren’t always endemic. Sometimes net-new opportunities are the things sitting alongside or enable the core technology to work. After all, broadband and computers are useless unless there’s juice coming out of the wall socket.

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With more than 2,000 members, 3,000 academic and training partners and tens of thousands of registered users spanning the entire information communications and technology (ICT) industry, CompTIA has become a leading voice for the technology ecosystem.

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