The Call of Community: The Pragma Ericsson-LG Partner Conference
Our insight into the Pragma Distribution annual reseller conference for 2018
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the Pragma Distribution and Ericsson-LG Partner Conference in the UK this year. The event was held at St George’s Park, the English Football Association’s national football centre, a £105 million facility stretched over 380 acres of Staffordshire countryside.
As the exclusive distributors of Ericsson-LG Unified Communications products in the UK, Pragma brings their resellers and channel partners together each year to discuss the new and emerging products in their portfolio, and the solutions that Ericsson-LG have to offer. Even though England was covered in snow and experiencing red weather warnings during the time of the event, there was still an amazing turnout – a testament to the draw of the conference.
The Start of the Day
The conference began around lunchtime when attendees were ushered into the main conference stage to listen to a speech by Tim Brooks, the Managing Director of Pragma. He was there to introduce the vendors attending the conference this year, including Ericsson-LG, Mondago, GetCrisp, Tollring, Clear Asset Finance, and Braxtel. Aria Technologies from Australia were also present – the equivalent company to Pragma for exclusive distribution of Ericsson-LG products in AU.
Brooks mentioned some of the fantatsic growth that Pragma has seen over the last year, with plenty of accolades, and a new office, which was introduced with a video tour. Tim then handed the stage over to Will Morey, the Sales Director for Pragma, who continued a positive note, sharing the significant growth Pragma has seen since its inception.
One particular point of note was how successful Pragma has been in the on-premises sector of late, at a time when other companies are struggling to maintain profitability in their legacy technology. It seems that Ericsson-LG’s broad portfolio of products for the small to mid-market range is still ticking all the right boxes in this digitally transforming world. That’s particularly true of the iPECS solution, which can take a brand from ‘cupboard to cloud’ without any alteration in user experience or any loss of feature set.
Ericsson-LG’s Growth in the UK Market
Following a Network Communications case study video, where Ed Savory, Business Development Manager at Pragma joined Will on the stage for a discussion of how easy it is to demonstrate the cloud, Ahed Alkhatib, the Vice President for Global Sales at Ericsson-LG Enterprise, took the microphone to talk about how the brand is growing in the UK.
Ahed noted that Ericsson-LG has seen a 300% growth in cloud subscriber growth and new partners, alongside a very impressive 30% application attachment rate for the cloud – compared to 12% for on-premises systems. This represents a powerful opportunity for channel partners and resellers, who could achieve an up to three-times greater attachment rate with cloud communications.
Ericsson-LG is also honing their sights on other disruptive technology in the marketplace today, including 5G, /unified-communications/cpaas, artificial intelligence, and IoT – all features that will no doubt make the brand even more compelling to resellers and channel partners embracing digital transformation. The flagship iPECS product has already seen an impressive upgrade in version 3.0, which delivers “vUCP” (Virtualised using VMWARE) to provide customers with a new UC hosting strategy.
Ahed then gave the stage to Helen Ranaghan, Business Development Manager at Pragma, who covered some of the major features coming up in iPECS version 3. The upgrade is bringing a host of new benefits to channel partners and resellers. Starting from its launch in May, you’ll be able to enjoy more hosting options, simplified user licenses, and a simplified path to upgrading premium features. Other new updates include:
- A new Athena headset range (Helen was wearing a headset herself)
- Phonelink V3 – Mondago updated the software to support up to 30 CRM integrations
- Tollring icallsuite v7 release with a refreshed look and feel, along with support for GDPR, and a compliance centre hosted within the software (launching in April 2018)
- Improved iOS Integration
Ed Savory also came to the stage to provide information on the iPECS Cloud update, which delivers icallsuite ready on the cloud, ready and waiting to provide plenty of business insights. Other updates included:
- Local survivability, fax integration, and easier provisioning
- Web GUI for audio conference bridge calls (June 2018)
- New connectivity offering from Pragma
- iPECS Meetings (coming soon)
- iPECS Contact Centre
- Native Mobile Integration
Pragma Have Been Busy This Year
It’s safe to say that Pragma hasn’t been resting on their laurels this past year. Not only have they been developing new solutions alongside Ericsson-LG, but Mark Proops, Head of Technical Operations also introduced a range of new technical service updates for the channel and partner team too. Since Pragma is already well-renowned for their tech services, their new knowledge base, better ticketing system, and plans to introduce a new monitoring system for their cloud platform are all signs of how devoted the company is to its community.
Pragma will be introducing pro services for resellers who want to gain more experience, a new online training course and iPECS technical certification programme, and a new in-office training options too. There’s also going to be a new reseller community forum coming soon to help people within the partner network to communicate not just amongst themselves, but also with Pragma and E-LG too.
Daan Donders, the Founder, and CEO of SO Connect also gave an introduction to So Wi-Fi, an exciting add-on product for Pragma partners, before Will Morey re-took the stage to talk about digital sales and marketing transformation options for resellers. One resounding theme for the conference was how devoted Pragma are to helping their resellers win.
Introduction to Aria Technologies and Ending the Day
Perhaps one of the most interesting attendees at the Pragma Distribution conference this year was Aria Technologies, who are the sole distribution company for Ericsson-LG in AU. Peter ‘Willow’ Williamson, National Sales and Marketing Manager for Aria Technologies took to the stage as the to talk about the importance of getting to know your market in the channel and partner world. His presentation touched on how there are countless different generations in the consumer world right now, and how partners need to tune into the needs of dispersed generations.
At the end of it all, Tim Brooks came back onto the stage to discuss the incentive trip to Cape Town for partners who hit their targets this year and discuss the monthly league table. There was an exciting awards evening with lots of incredible achievements to celebrate – particularly for Lily Telecoms, who won three awards in a row, including Best Phone Link reseller of the year, iCall reseller of the year, and overall reseller of the year.
By the end of the conference, I was left feeling a huge amount of partner community spirit – something you don’t always get at partner events. It was amazing to see how Pragma really brought everyone together, and it reinforced my belief that Pragma has a partner community to be proud of.