Broadline distributor Northamber has stolen a march on existing Digital distributors, by snapping up the deal to introduce a new high margin computer telephony integration (CTI) product from the vendor - even though it does not currently distribute its products. Digital said its UK resellers lack CTI skills.
Paul Smith, who runs Northamber?s telecomms division, said: ?We?ve recruited Digital resellers by accident. I?d like to be a Digital distributor.?
Smith was speaking at the introduction of a Digital Alpha-based solution, developed in conjunction with Mitel. Northamber is a key partner in Mitel's new indirect model for NT products.
The Digital-Mitel product runs on an NT server and will support up to 96 users in small business and workgroups, according to Christine Lehmukhl, product manager at Digital US.
?Digital distributors [in the UK] don?t have the CTI skills,? she said. ?Northamber came to us and did a system integrator role.?
Mitel, which sells PABXs using a direct model, said it would use two-tier distribution to sell NT servers running its own and third party CTI software, using a new indirect approach devised for NT products.
Northamber will require the 30 or 40 Vars it has targeted to go through a stringent accreditation system, said Smith.
?We?ve carved out a fairly good slot for supporting CTI applications,? he said. ?My view is these products will replace the PABX and by the year 2002 this will be pervasive.?
Margins for its resellers will be high, Smith promised, up to 30 or 40 per cent gross. ?Because the margin opportunity is so significant, we have a fierce accreditation procedure. We?re looking for NT and networking skills.? Northamber will make the resellers buy a discounted Digital-Mitel unit, he said.
But end users will benefit from the deal, according to both Smith and Lehmukhl, deploying the new technology to create customer service applications and make savings on staff and time. Two had already done so in the UK, although the vendors declined to say who were the early adopters.
Although there were two Intel-based introductions planned, said Smith, it was unlikely they would come to fruition this year. Per seat, the CTI system will cost between #1,200 and #6,000, depending on the size of the site. The price includes the server and software, but not individual telephones attached to the NT server, said Lehmukhl.
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