Telecom Reseller’s Doug Green recently spoke with Scott Velting, Vice President of Product Management at Lumen, and Brian Beutler, CEO and Founder at Alianza, about the drivers behind Lumen’s decision to work with Alianza and the benefits Lumen’s new Cloud Communications offering will provide to their customers.
“We’re really excited about the announcement,” said Velting. “We see a significant opportunity to announce some critical needs in our business and, of course, like everyone else, we’ve got revenue growth targets. Our industry is challenged with a lot of legacy technology in the voice space, and our customers are looking for a solution that suits their needs, provides modernized technology, and sets them up for future growth opportunities.”
Lumen Enterprise knew they needed to enhance their voice and cloud communications portfolio. “[We] were familiar with Alianza from the work they were doing on the Mass Market side of our business. They were doing good work . . . and we were really interested in the ways that they were transforming the network, operational environment, and finding efficiencies.”
Velting continued, “So we started pursuing a relationship to address our needs . . . and saw that that Alianza’s team was really aggressive with developing their platform and highly responsive to our needs for how we planned to address our existing customer base as they wrestle with this voice transformation question.”
Due to, in part, how Alianza built and established their platform, the consumability of their APIs, and their innovation in the market, saw an opportunity for them to jointly address critical needs in their market and with their customer base.
Alianza’s Not So Big Secret
When Green asked why Lumen is such a good fit for Alianza, Beutler responded, “We believe in Lumen, their philosophy around how they treat their customers, and how they want to transform their business to the cloud in order to deliver better, more modern, agile, and innovative solutions that are going to help customers communicate how they want, when they want, and where they want. We’re working hand-in-hand with Lumen to deliver something new and innovative and differentiated to their customer base.”
It’s no secret that Alianza’s mission is to help and support service providers deliver cutting-edge communication services from the cloud. Alianza feels service providers are poised for success over the next decade and beyond due to their ability to differentiate with broadband access, local presence, brand recognition, and the clout they carry when it comes to delivering cutting-edge communication solutions.
How the Alianza Lumen Impacts Customers & the Market
As service providers face legacy equipment replacement within their own networks, or as partners in their customers’ networks, Green asked how the Alianza Lumen alliance and new product offerings will impact the market.
Velting said their network transformation impacts them two-fold: by positioning their internal teams to do better, and enabling successful, digital-first, customer experiences.
1. Impact & Benefits for the Lumen Team
The Alianza platform is architected to allow providers centralized management of their platform and the customer base. Lumen found Alianza’s user-friendly interface and provisioning capabilities easy to use which drove a lot of efficiencies within their own support staff.
“We operationally benefit from centralized management of the customer base through the [Alianza] portal . . . it really enables the customer — but also us — to manage the product and users very efficiently.”
Velting recognizes that telephone number porting in the industry is a challenging process for everybody. However, the “intuitive portals used to manage the Alianza platform makes it easier for employees to manage the experience, drive efficiencies, and it is a further proof point of the strategic alignment between our companies and the capabilities that Alianza brings to bear.”
2. Impact & Benefits for Lumen Customers
Beutler said, “We’re creating a digital first experience for Lumen and their end users to order, provision, and port telephone numbers, and provision services all from a single web interface which is integrated into the Lumen’s operations support system and business support system (OSS/BSS) and number provisioning platforms to really create a seamless end user experience.”
As part of digitalizing the customer journey, Lumen is investing in an application marketplace to enable customers to easily engage with products through the Lumen platform, enabling them to learn, search, quote, and order — all without the legacy model of engaging the seller, waiting for a quote, arranging a face-to-face meeting, and then working through contract nuances.
Velting said they are off to a great start by enabling some of the capabilities Alianza brings to the table, like a strong user experience through their user interface and mobile apps.
“We’re committed to each other to make that a successful experience for customers.” And by leveraging Alianza’s efforts the Mass Markets business unit, they can accelerate their speed to marketing and digital-first customer model.
Lumen Specialty Lines: Fully Managed POTS Replacement
Velting mentioned another unique solution component is the Specialty Lines product, which is targeted at customers who have legacy copper lines that service business-critical systems like elevators, alarms, and remote access modems. In many cases, these customers don’t have a good solution in to address the unique need of those lines, so they’re looking for something more, something modern.
Lumen’s Specialty Lines is a plain old telephone system (POTS) replacement solution that addresses those needs by enabling customers to move their special use lines to a fully managed cloud service using next-gen on-premises customer premises equipment (CPE) with LTE and 5G backup capabilities for additional resiliency and redundancy. It’s a game changer in the industry.
“We are seeing a growing interest rapidly growing interest” in the POTS replacement solution and the support model that they’ve worked on with Alianza to provide end-to-end to support for their users.
Cloud as the Medium of Choice for CSPs
Green asked, “How is this a step forward for the end user and service community as they look to move everything to the cloud.”
Beutler responded, “I’d start that by taking a step back and looking at the service provider network juxtaposition — where they’ve been and where they’re going. Clearly on the enterprise side, cloud has made big inroads for over the last decade, and now almost half of the market had transitioned to some type of cloud communications platform.
“But within the service provider network, deploying cloud as the medium of choice is still relatively novel and new. And Lumen, as an early adopter of developing and deploying these communication solutions to the cloud, I think, is really poised to deliver a new set of agility, creativity, around the solutions that they’re bringing to end user customers.”
Newly launched Lumen Cloud Communications may look like another cloud communications offering, but its flexible licence model and configuration options provide all the cloud PBX features customers expect with the ability to add collaboration and conferencing.
For the new Specialty Lines product, Beutler said, “The full Business Cloud Communications suite and capabilities [are] going to drive a lot of unique needs in the market that are out there today. At its core, what we’re talking about [is] replicating the same type of cloud-scale innovation that’s been going on the enterprise side, and delivering it through the Lumen service provider infrastructure in a way that just creates a win-win for everybody all along the way. If we can create a better end user experience and a better Lumen back-office experience, it’s really a win-win-win for all the different parties involved.”
A Win-Win-Win for Lumen, Alianza, & Customers
When Green asked if Velting saw the same win-win for their customer base and Lumen community, Velting said, “Definitely, for sure. I mean our customers, not unlike others in the industry I’m sure, are continually asking for help to think through the process, whether it’s a voice transformation or a complete digital transformation.” They want support getting from their legacy environment to the cloud to be easy and understandable, because there are a lot of moving parts.
Velting said Lumen is really excited about the partnership because of how Alianza “approach[es] a request and our needs on the platform, and the way they’ve structured it really, to facilitate, not just benefits for those customers who are looking for a simplified experience, but also . . . how we manage the customer base, how we manage the platform, and our critical needs. It really is a nice meshing of our strategies, and we continue to be excited about our partnership.”