1. Could Sarah give us a brief overview of her professional background
"I have an extensive background in the channel sector, spanning 20+ years, where I've worked with prominent data, voice, and security networking companies. One notable role was EMEA Director of Partner Marketing & GTM Programmes at Juniper Networks, where I dedicated six years to developing and implementing their successful channel strategy.
“Following that, I established my own partner consultancy, which I nurtured for four years, building client’s indirect business and creating a new revenue stream for their organisations. Last year, I made the exciting decision to join Cradlepoint, a part of Ericsson; it has been an incredible journey so far.”
2. How did Sarah go about developing the channel programme? What was the biggest challenge?
“The biggest challenge with any new channel programme is selling a new brand into an established channel market. While Cradlepoint is extremely successful in the US, we were not as well known among the value-added reseller (VAR), service provider (SP), and system integrator (SI) community.
“Overcoming this challenge relies on gaining the trust of the C-Suite and leadership teams within these communities. Part of this strategy has relied on my over 20 years of experience in the industry, but even more helpful has been the fact that partners’ customers have been asking for the solutions Cradlepoint offers. This is because they know our 5G for enterprise and private networks strategy solves the problems they currently face around connectivity.”
3. How do you build successful channel partnerships?
“Building successful channel partnership begins with personal connections. Nothing compares to meeting potential partners face-to-face. Listening is key; partners have so much knowledge about the market. They are the closest to their customers and understand their challenges. By understanding these problems, we can show we offer the solutions they need to meet them. For example, one of the current challenges we see is the current strain on connectivity networks due to IoT device deployments. As a result, we focus on offering easy-to-deploy solutions to address these demands.
“Another crucial aspect is our willingness to collaborate on test deployments and actively listen to partner feedback. This approach fosters trust and helps us refine our offerings. For instance, when we partner with a titan partner like Softcat, we are still agile enough to offer a white glove service for our training and certifications programme via Cradlepoint University (CPU). Providing partners with a seamless onboarding process.”
4. What can channel partners expect to see in the coming months?
“In the coming months, our signed and certified partners can expect more leads; meaning qualified opportunities with the support of our field sales & se teams. They will be privy to market trend information ahead of the curve that we have invested in to support our partners in their markets. We are blowing the doors off of our global and regional partner summits, a key platform we use to communicate to our channel partner community. We will be giving our partners access to industry first insights and activities, as well as accelerating their sales and enhancing their customers experience, by deploying our cellular based secure wireless solutions portfolio.”
5. How have the demands of Softcat’s customers changed over the years?
“Undoubtedly, the connectivity needs of businesses have undergone significant transformations in recent years. With the surge in IoT device adoption starting, companies now seek robust connectivity infrastructure to fully capitalise on their deployments. Take, for instance, manufacturers who can remotely monitor their machinery using these devices. The true value of the collected data lies in transmitting it in real time to its intended destination from any location. Therefore, businesses require networks that provide high-speed connectivity with minimal latency, catering to diverse use cases, both remote and on-premise.”
Sarah Ralston-Good adds:
“We are also seeing demand from end users for simplified management systems, which is where our NetCloud platform adds value. The ability to manage multiple routers remotely means small teams can more effectively manage huge IT estates. For example, Cradlepoint has one client that has routers in 1300 vehicles across the UK. Manually updating and managing these would be impossible, but NetCloud allows the team to ensure their network is secure while enjoying connectivity on the move.”
6. How has Softcat evolved to accommodate that?
“We recognised Softcat needed to adapt its offering to meet this new demand. Recently we decided to rebuild our Networking and Connectivity portfolio from scratch and introduce innovative technologies and services which meet customer challenges and unlock their ability to innovate. Areas such as secure 4G / 5G connectivity, starting with Cradlepoint, were one of the newer technologies in the portfolio. This proactive step means Softcat remains at the forefront of the industry and can cater effectively to customers’ shifting requirements as we continue our value-added focus customer fist approach.”
7. Why did Softcat choose Cradlepoint to partner with? What makes Cradlepoint different from other alternatives?
“Softcat’s decision to partner with Cradlepoint rested on Cradlepoint’s unwavering commitment to excellence, customer satisfaction and clear understanding of the industry vertical outcomes their technology can help achieve. This decision was further reenforced by the strong partnership Cradlepoint have with Ericsson enabling solution coverage across both Public and Private 5G technologies. The team at Cradlepoint actively supports Softcat’s sales teams, valuing their feedback and promptly adjusting training as needed. It is this collaboration that ensures a strong partnership.
“Furthermore, Cradlepoint stands out from other alternatives due to its genuine enterprise-grade 5G solution. Unlike off-the-shelf devices, their product ensures superior connectivity performance alongside additional enterprise grade tooling, such as SD-WAN and security functionality, making it a perfect fit for Softcat's customers. This distinction reflects Cradlepoint's dedication to providing cutting-edge technology and surpassing industry standards, making them the obvious choice for this successful partnership with Softcat.”
8. How do you see the market developing over the coming years?
“The market holds immense potential in the current landscape. Traditional connectivity via Public 5G is continued to grow and connect the previously unconnected. We are also witnessing an acceleration in IoT deployment, and it's projected that by 2030, over 50% of global data will be generated from these devices. Organisations must ensure real-time data transmission and viewing capabilities to unlock the unique use-cases IoT can offer. That's where 5G connectivity comes in with its high speeds, ample bandwidth, and low latency, enabling seamless support for many devices.
“Organisations are also now seeking suppliers who offer added value beyond just connectivity. Features like SD-WAN, zero-trust networks and cloud-based management software empower IT teams to manage networks more effectively. As we move forward, these enhancements will play a significant role in shaping the market and delivering exceptional solutions to meet the evolving demands of businesses.”
9. Which sectors are of the most interest?
“There is significant potential in almost every sector right now. However, there are a few that really catch our attention. For instance, manufacturing stands to benefit greatly from significant IoT deployments, allowing manufacturers to closely monitor machine operations and digitise previously analogue systems and processes. Many sectors, from shipping ports to utility companies, use these devices to run processes more efficiently. For example, many meter readings are still analogue; attaching a device that can digitise these readings saves huge amounts of time instead of waiting for an engineer to go round and check manually. Outside of industrial organisations, enterprises are also beginning to adopt 5G connectivity to unlock new and innovate ways to differentiate in the market and optimise business operations.”
Sarah Ralston-Good adds:
“The public sector also has a lot of potential. Rapid digitisation within police forces requires support for in-car Wi-Fi, video data transmission from bodycams, and secure connectivity for evidence from crime scenes. These critical applications demand secure and reliable connectivity solutions, and we are eager to meet these needs in the public sector.”