Since 2001, Altaworx has provided internet protocol (IP) communication solutions to businesses in the United States and internationally. Customer service is the backbone of AltaWorx’s mission – they aim to deliver solutions for their clients that simplify operational demands, improve technology standards and manage business costs. To do that, AltaWorx offers cloud-based server and voice services, mobile VoIP, hosted private branch exchange (PBX), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, mobility data plans and applications, and IP data services.
We sat down with AltaWorx CEO Rickie Richey to get the lowdown on how the company continues to meet the shifting needs of their customers:
I originally worked for a company that provided hosted PBX and IP phone systems. They were looking to get out of the phone system business, but I wasn’t, so they sold me that part of the company. We started in 2001 offering service-based phone systems as a BellSouth partner. In 2011, we became a reseller of our own system of hosted PBX. Then, in 2013, AT&T selected us as their first partner in the AT&T Partner Exchange Program and we started reselling for them.
Well, when I started with the company, my one request was that we sell IP phone systems. With the traditional PBX system, I saw that it was really hard to support our customers because we had to actually go on-location for any maintenance. In the phone system business, every time the economy slowed down, the business would slow down. So there was also a lot of money invested in trucks and technicians that weren’t being used. But on the flip side, we were supporting customers all across the country with only one or two technicians. With IP-based systems, we can access them remotely so there’s no need for travel.
So AT&T created this partner exchange program as a way for companies, like ours, to do business with them more easily. We had started our SIP business in 2011 so we were prepared for the partnership. Since we were a master agent of AT&T and had a value-added service as well as tier one support, we were actually the first company to get into the program. We’re pretty proud of that – it’s made a huge difference for our business. The partnership allows our customers to benefit from an AT&T IP network and take advantage of their unmatched functionality and accessibility.
Most of our selling is done through partners. We try to do business with people who are either consultants or do some sort of solution selling. There are a lot of people in our business that do transactional selling, which we don’t like. Rather than a quick sell, we look for partners that are more sophisticated in what they deliver, aim to establish a relationship with customers, and build recurring revenue. What we really look for are products that will allow us to have an impact on the customer’s business.
Absolutely. AT&T used to have a partner program for M2M called iMAP. We were a part of that program but it wasn’t really ready for the reseller model. After AT&T merged iMAP with their Partner Exchange Program, we became the first ones in the program to sell M2M connectivity. For us, it made sense because M2M connectivity is ultimately solution selling… and we sell connectivity for some really unique stuff. We have one company we’re working with that has an application that tracks horses for Colic. One of our clients has an RFID solution for tracking kids as they get on and off the school bus. We’re really focused on solving problems and finding solutions for our clients. It’s going to be a really big part of our business, and it’s already heading that way.
Over the years I’ve learned that if you’re going to sell usage-based products, you’ve got to have a great billing solution. As a whole, we really like the way the taxing database integrates with the cloud-based billing software. The migration was seamless and Rev.io made it very simple to move our data over. From a customer standpoint, we’re doing the integration with AT&T and also using Jasper to manage M2M sims in real-time. We use Rev.io to pull the usage data out of Jasper and generate metered billing to our customers.
When we started the business in 2011, we actually used a billing system that was on our own servers and managed it ourselves. One of the things that was really important for us was to have a cloud-based billing software. Our offices are fundamentally located in a hurricane zone, so we have all of our data centers off site. We have redundancy on the products we sell our customers, so it was important to have that redundancy in our cloud-based billing software as well. It was good to have our cloud billing hosted through Rev.io so we could focus on building our hosted PBX and IoT offerings and not have to worry about doing work that we didn’t need to be doing. Since implementing Rev.io, our amount of revenue has grown 2500%.
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