While I was in Atlanta, Georgia, recording a video case study of the prestigious Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, I took some time to interview Darrell Rodgers, president and chairman of the board of Emerald Data Networks, Inc. Darrell has been constructing, deploying, and maintaining various solutions for 27 years. His extensive technology services background was made apparent just by speaking with him. Read the interview below and be sure to watch the video at the end.
Tell me about Emerald Data Networks.
Emerald Data Networks is a technology consultancy. What that means is that we help organizations answer two very important questions: first, “What technology should we use?,” and second, “How should we use it for our business?”
Being a Digium partner for almost a decade, the wide range of products has helped us to be able to offer a lot of different solutions in a lot of different ways to meet the specific customer needs each time.
What do you like most about being a Digium partner?
One of the things I like the most about being a Digium partner is the great support that we get. They’re just over in Alabama, right next door to Georgia, so I can have people over here anytime I need them. They have a great website, they send us plenty of information, and they’re always there when we need something. They make it easy for us to sell the product by providing all of the data that we need.
Why do you think that customers choose Switchvox over the competition?
We win a lot of deals with Switchvox because of the flexibility, the price point, its rich features and functions, and the ease of utilization. It’s pretty easy to put in a system. It’s also pretty easy to maintain and actually to manage the system. We recommend to a lot of our clients, even if they have medium-level technology experts on site, that they can manage the system themselves for most major items after the install.
It’s important when you’re trying to explain something as technical as a voice over IP phone solution to a customer for them to be able to easily understand it and grasp it. It’s very easy for our customers to understand.
Tell me about the flexibility that you have with Switchvox. How do the different product offerings help your business?
I really like the flexibility of the Switchvox product because we can go software or hardware. It gives us an opportunity to tailor fit things specifically to the needs of different organizations that we deal with because we are technology consultants. That’s what we do. We make things easy for our customers, and we customize solutions for their particular businesses.
Switchvox gives us a lot of opportunities to do that with their range of products from the small end to the higher-end, from banding products together to making different remote sites have their own individual products for redundancy’s sake. It really gives us a lot of flexibility.
Explain a bit more about how that versatility specifically helps Emerald Data Networks.
I love selling Switchvox because of the breadth. One of the things that we see with a lot of different kinds of VoIP vendors is they don’t have a smaller solution, a medium solution, and something that you can really take to the enterprise. We have organizations of all sizes come to us for help. Sometimes we get startups, sometimes we get medium-sized organizations, and sometimes we get large organizations. They may have 12 or 1,400 employees in a single division.
With Switchvox’s different deployment options, we can start small, we can add remote offices, we can connect those systems together, or we can also start big and keep moving on from there. Digium also has Switchvox Cloud, so the flexibility of all the different offerings makes it very easy for us to position the product.
What do you think about Digium’s new E-Series appliances like the E510?
I really like the new selection that Digium has come out with. I had always thought that we could broaden the product a little bit more and take it a little bit lower into the industry. We help a lot of smaller-sized organizations, and while the cloud offering is really good for them, it’s nice for them to have an option to have something on-premise as well. Having more options just gives us more tools in our tool belt so that we can build something that’s very specific for a particular customer’s need.
Do you ever use Digium’s account executives?
Oh, absolutely. They’ve been awesome. Like I said, here in Georgia, we’re not that far away from you guys. So, in a couple hours, we can have somebody over here. We’ve had Digium account executives come over and teach our new salespeople and technicians, and we’ve had them come over and do joint presentations to customers.
It’s really awesome when we have Digium people come and get involved, especially in an upfront presentation, because they have so many resources in the back office. Whenever we’ve had an opportunity to close a deal, they’ve always been very professional. They’ve been very prompt, they respond to all of our questions, and they get us on the phone with engineers right away when we need them. Everybody at Digium has been great about making sure that they support us so that we can best position the product in the marketplace.
What have been your experiences using other Digium resources?
A lot of times we get requests from smaller teams within large organizations, and they want to see a lot of material up front. They want to know about the strength and the breadth of services of a particular organization before they’re even willing to consider the project.
We can take them to the Digium website and show them all the materials: all the slicks, all the marketing backup support, the history of the organization, and financial information. It really helps us to position the product with larger organizations or with organizations that are a small part of a much bigger company that still want to have that comfort.
Do you ever work with channel managers or Digium Support?
One of the things that’s great about what we do is because we understand technology to the nth degree, and we understand all different kinds of technology. Honestly, internally we don’t need a lot of support.
Most of what we need in terms of support is when we have a particular issue that is just a little bit weird or off or different, we can get our channel manager or other Digium resources involved. They help us with where we need to go, what we need to do, and how we need to attack it. And then we use that and make sure that we get the absolute perfect solution for the customer’s need.
Did you have any concerns about becoming a Digium partner?
I really didn’t have any concerns about being a Digium partner. I mean, we had fully vetted the the entire organization from the management structure to the partner structure to what we were expected to be doing and what we could expect from Digium. We already knew where you guys were coming from, where you had been, who the leadership was, and we had a good idea of what your partner process looked like. We had a pretty good idea of the support that we were going to get. You always have the same, you know, general anxiety that you deal with in any new partner relationship, but I felt pretty good about going into the relationship, and I feel really good about it still.
Everything has been very smooth. We get leads from you guys, and we follow up right away whenever you give us something. I think we’ve sold everything that you guys offer on the platform, so we’re a good partner in terms of having a very diverse install base. Obviously, we use the system internally as well as for all of our hosted solutions. Again, for almost a decade we’ve been a partner, and we’ve been very happy, we’ve always gotten the support that we needed, and it’s been a great relationship.