O2 has explained the reasons behind the changes to its partner programme, saying that the scheme was changed in order to reflect the brand’s focus on digital. O2 business head of partners Jason Phillips spoke to Mobile about some of the changes: ‘The Premium partner programme had been in place for five years, but the market has moved on a lot since then – we felt that for today’s partners it was a bit tired and old.
‘It’s very much a refresh of our partner programme, as we change a number of things all at once – changing our commercials and making things simpler. It reflects our focus on digital and selling as a partnership. We want to show the range of new products and services designed to add value.
‘The new programme has been nine to 12 months in the making, and during that time we’ve taken a lot of customer insight on board. The new system is a simplified bundle of services. We deliberately set the launch date for next year to give a decent period leading in to the new programme. A new branding is good – it helps to focus people – but the real nuts and bolts will come with the contracts and commercials. Both aspects have been changed in order to show how the market is different now.’
The operator is also looking to help partners who are have moved into new areas, assisting them in altering the way their business works or how they can sell a greater range of services. Phillips continued: ‘We’re finding that in this space it’s becoming not just about mobile, especially in the small and medium sized business segment. We are seeing partnerships becoming more and more important.
‘I think that what partners deliver to themselves and to the network changes over time. In terms of the number of partners, the numbers did not need to come down. There was a handful of partners whose business has moved into distribution and we’ve been working to assist them in making that adjustment. All of the partners were at the meeting when the scheme was announced. They are confident that they can reach the commercial levels expected in the new programme’
That’s not to say that O2’s new programme is not built upon its fundamental revenue source; mobile, Phillips said: ‘Mobile revenue is core, it’s all about keeping customers, getting them to spend more and use more data. This is the basis for selling a greater range of services on top. We have a really great range of digital services to offer the customer, such as Box and Office 360. We are looking to increase ARPU and we are looking for our partners to do the same. These digital platforms are straightforward and go on to the bill.
‘In terms of the IT space, we have seen many partners working in that space for a long time now and we expect more mobile partners to move into that as well. We realise that mobile is looking at IT and IT is looking at mobile constantly. It’s a conscious discussion we have with our partners; we are always looking at ways we can help them grow their profitability.’