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Vodafone Q+A: a strategy for engaging channel partners

Paul Lipscombe
June 13, 2022

In a Q&A with Mobile News, Vodafone’s new head of channel strategy, Kathryn Platt, talks about subjects including her plans to engage channel partners and the opportunities she sees ahead in IoT

Vodafone UK recently appointed Kathryn Platt as its new head of channel strategy – otherwise known as head of indirect – as the long-term replacement for Kathy Quashie.

Platt, who has held a variety of roles at Vodafone since 2006, started her new role on April 1.

Before that, she played a key role in helping to set up B2B reseller Yes Telecom, which was later acquired by Vodafone.

The channel is Platt’s bread and butter, with her new role one that she’s been working towards for a long time, she tells Mobile News.

In this Q&A, she talks to us about subjects including her plans to engage channel partners and opportunities in IoT – a key focus area for Vodafone.

What’s your background at Vodafone?

Before Vodafone, my main introduction into the mobile network side of things was at an ISP called Yes Telecom, which was set up in 2000. I was responsible for getting the company’s partner channel up and running.

Vodafone then bought Yes and merged the channels together in 2008, so we had the Yes partners come together with the Vodafone partners. I was responsible for managing the larger partners in that space. I’ve had various roles at Vodafone focused mainly around the

indirect channel. It’s the channel I love the most – hence why I’ve stayed in it. The variety has always kept me engaged and I really enjoy working with the partners because they’re so entrepreneurial.

Is this a role you’ve always wanted and what does it entail? 

Yes, definitely; I’ve been working up to running the channel. I’m responsible for the indirect channel in enterprise. That encompasses four main areas and includes ‘red bill’ partners – customers we bill directly for, including the ISP channel, wholesale fixed channel and IoT. I work very closely with my colleagues in IoT to try and grow that business.

What IoT opportunities do you foresee for Vodafone in the coming years?

We have some really skilled IoT partners already and are looking to expand their portfolios. We’re also looking to expand our knowledge of this segment, so that as we bring our global offerings to partners, they can really capitalise on that.

Where I see a real opportunity is where we can help our partners with their capabilities. We have a really mixed skill set with the partners and I think we can bring the expertise of our own IoT team into those businesses to help them spark opportunities.

They will have been working with customers for years that might not necessarily know about opportunities, so we want to bring this to life for these partners.

What targets does Vodafone have in place for its partner channel?

We are obviously focused on revenue growth, as this reflects the market share that we take. We’re also focused on how we work with our partners, so a big measure of this is the NPS [net promoter score], through which we can measure how we’re doing and how we’re supporting them – as well as other sales measures around the new business we bring on.

How important are the wholesale and fixed broadband segments for Vodafone?

It’s a big opportunity for us, especially where you have the WLR [wholesale line rental] switch-off and the move to fibre-to- the-premises. What we really need to focus on is how we can go to market with this for our partners, so that it’s a really smooth transition for them.

How does your experience help you in this role?

I think it helps in a number of ways. I know Vodafone pretty well and the various different areas of the business that my team will need to work on, so this gives us agility and pace.

I know the partners because I’ve been in the channel a long time and there’s a lot of legacy and history here that I think it’s important to understand. I also have a good understanding about what’s important to the partners and their businesses.

One of the really important things I want to focus on is how my team supports those partners in making sure they’re best in class. We want to be seen as providing really valuable support to these businesses.

I really enjoy working and being innovative with partners, and it’s great to see them bringing as many fresh ideas as they can. It’s important to take on their opinions and work together.

How will you support partners going forward?

We’re going to do a number of different things. For one thing, we’re going to spend more time with them and we’ve already kicked off our round tables, where we pick specific subjects and we bring experts or partners that are interested

in what we’re thinking about and what’s important to them. We also have partner forums and do partner days where we get them together and outline our strategy to them and see if it aligns. In addition, I’m looking to get more face-to-face time with our sales teams and with partners just to make sure we’re supporting them day to day.

What challenges does Vodafone face?

I talked about engagement and how important this is as we come out of a pandemic, where it was difficult to speak to people face to face – not just partners, but customers as well. To be able to bring this back helps us to move forward. A big challenge for me is the enablement piece – I have to ensure that our partners are on the digital journey and we are on this journey with them, ensuring we’re as easy to do business with as possible. I have to help partners with insights that can help them drive their own businesses.

What are the other big opportunities for Vodafone this year?

IoT is a big one, but so is the WLR switch- off. We need to make sure we’re on board with this and helping our partners with it too. Huge bases of customers live on WLR and we need to think about how we can transition them. This is a great opportunity for revenue growth too.

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