Cutting Room: O2 wants to get its dealer mojo working

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As O2 announces its decision to scrap its Centre of Excellence programme, Padraig McGarrigle argues that such changes at the top at the networks can only be good news for airtime distributors  

O2’s decision to revamp its Centre of Excellence programme has, to quote one dealer,  “been a long time coming.”

The programme was originally due to be overhauled back in October 2012, but despite a succession of emails sent out, and an off-the-record confirmation, it never happened.

As stated by Jason Phillips (pictured) the programme has in recent years lost its ‘Mojo’, and in truth, is something rarely spoken of by the channel at all.

The proud CoE badge of honour has slipped somewhat. Complacency? Perhaps, after all O2 was the first to launch such a programme, and was once something every dealer wanted to be a part of, both for financial gain and status in the competitive market.

Whilst figures may not be in decline – reputation is still key. Vodafone in particular seems to now generate the biggest buzz in the channel, something prior to the launch of VPS in 2010 (merging Yes Telecom with Vodafone Direct) was unheard of.

Today many a dealer speaks of their determination and ambition to rise up the Vodafone pecking order to achieve the bragging rights of becoming a Platinum Partner.

EE, despite concerns to the contrary, has been increasingly vocal of its plans to drive B2B sales through the indirect channel and is expected to make a series of changes shortly.

The launch of the O2 Direct Partner Network, on paper at least, appears to be putting that right. Certainly those we’ve spoke with in the channel seem optimistic.

Top performers
The market has changed significantly, and O2 wants it top performers through more hoops to reap the rewards.

Phillips says he doesn’t want cuts, and why would he? If all partners reach their targets, there would be no need. But of course it will happen.

That’s not necessarily a negative aimed at O2. If O2 is investing heavily in the programme, £8 million in incentives in 2015 alone, it will want to see a return on its investment, something perhaps only a selected few could guarantee.

Of course, not all will be happy. Those that drop down to distribution will no doubt suffer a loss in revenues. Some have already suggested the operators want to help the bigger players get bigger – and forget the rest.

However O2 says it’s working with its distributors to help its partners grow by better educating them on new products and services, providing an incentive to one day return to the top flight, to borrow football terminology.

Regardless, distribution is no bad thing, far from it. The changes at the top (including Vodafone and EE) spell only good news for distributors (provided they don’t sell up) who will benefit from the additional numbers, both in terms of dealers and connection volumes.

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