We help carriers get connected to Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams through Microsoft’s ‘Accelerator’ program. Operator Connect is a relatively new offer and the details and information carriers need to know for onboarding continues to evolve.
Operator Connect presents a real opportunity for carriers to engage in the UCaaS market. With Microsoft Teams being the #2 UCaaS provider with 270M monthly active users, adding Phone System services to Teams is a natural evolution.
Here are some pointers, to help you navigate the onboarding process for Microsoft Operator Connect. It is not an exhaustive how-to list, more observations from our experiences of working with Microsoft.
1 Fill out the nomination form
There’s an online form that any interested operator needs to complete. It takes a few minutes but is essential. By completing this form Microsoft can plan to accommodate you in their schedule. It should be noted that completing the form is only the beginning, there is more to work through to meet Microsoft’s expectations for Operator Connect. Also, probably due to high demand, Microsoft recently removed the link to the form from their website, so top tip, working with an Accelerator partner like us will help get this step completed.
2 Decide on the business case
For many operators the business case is as simple as ‘our competitors are in the Operator Connect Marketplace so we need to be there too’ but for others, an in-depth forecasting and ROI analysis may be needed. There is little public information about the success of Operator Connect for operators, but our experience is that customer uptake is higher than expected, particularly in larger seat-count opportunities where enterprises see the increased SLA provided by Operator Connect. What we do know is that the marketplace is evolving, with the move to the cloud and the rise of UCaaS, and this is the operator’s opportunity to evolve with it.
3 Choose implementation scope & priority
To get certified and listed in the Operator Connect marketplace, Microsoft provides a helpful prescriptive technical onboarding process. Key investment elements for an operator are the connectivity and API connections they need to have with Microsoft. A network-to-network interface is required (voice traffic should not go over the public internet between you and Microsoft) and provisioning and management functions should be done via API automation. Any business case needs to understand the scope and cost of this work, and whether a staged plan will be used e.g. start with initial market presence using modest integration, and then measure the uptake before investing further.
4 Involve an Accelerator partner
Accelerator partners are approved by Microsoft to deliver a certified integration to Operator Connect. These Accelerator partners have been put in place to simplify the process of onboarding. They can help smooth the integration and certification processes for connecting telephony services to Microsoft Teams.
Here are Dstny Atomate we work with Ribbon to deliver our Accelerator offer and significantly reduce the demands and workload of an operator getting into market. To further help with the business case, we keep pricing to a simple SaaS PAYG model so there’s little commercial risk to get into market. Certification of the implementation is also included so there’s no fee from an external organisation for that either and working with an Accelerator partner you can hope to be onboarded to Operator Connect in 4-6 weeks. For us, acceleration doesn’t stop at the technical implementation, we are one of the most successful Teams voice-enablement companies, and we use that experience to help our operator partners be successful selling Teams voice offers too.
5 Use Direct Routing whilst you’re waiting
There may be a wait for Operator Connect! We’re hearing from some partners that their application may be delayed by several months. For our partners we have the option of Direct Routing as an alternative offer in the meantime. With our Direct Routing, our automation layer means, the customer onboarding experience is as simple as Operator Connect. Using the same platform means migration from Direct Routing to Operator Connect can take place. We can get our operator partners in-market and selling, and get the API work out of the way, so when they get the green-light to proceed from Microsoft, enabling Operator Connect is a simple task. Another important item that can be taken care of in this phase is to get the go-to-market activity underway and capture customer opportunities; there’s no reason to be losing business to established Operator Connect providers.
Today we’re helping dozens of partners on the Operator Connect journey, we hope these pointers give a few simple signposts for other operators who need a little guidance.