by Ron Grattopp…..In my previous post I introduced an article on CRN, by Rauline Ochs, called Shopping For Cloud Vendors. Rauline works, I believe, for IPED, apparently a research arm of CRN, and my post included an overview of the 4 main questions she proposes that VARs should be asking as they consider and select the cloud vendors. But my focus here, is on another aspect of her article – one of the more interesting things that she notes in her article is: “According to recent IPED research, more than 30 percent of solution providers have yet to invest in cloud computing solutions [emphasis mine]. When asked why, most responded that they are simply waiting for vendor partners to tell them what to do. They’re waiting for training and education. They’re waiting for vendors to lead the way instead of grading their ability to meet their needs.“ This was very interesting and relevant to me since I had just gotten back from a VARNEX conference and one of the key themes I heard there from partners who weren’t “into” the cloud yet was the burning question “how does a partner take it [online services] to market?”, which certainly seemed to validate, at least anecdotally, IPED’s findings. So, I decided to try and address that question, to some extent, in this post.
There’s a strategic and tactical level to this question in my opinion. First, let’s tackle the “strategery” (a word I heard some years back credited to a certain past president around the idea of strategic thought – which has obviously stuck with me <grin>). At the macro level here, it’s about recognizing and understanding that a sea change, or paradigm shift, is happening in the IT world, and solution provider world by extension. You should already know that Microsoft is “all in”, and, I’m suggesting that, as a partner/solution provider, you will be more successful by getting in front of this technical tsunami and riding the coming wave rather than waiting for it to fully arrive and then swimming along in its wake. I’m not saying you have to be all in just because Microsoft is, but fundamentally, at the strategic level, the earlier you recognize this industry transformation and commit to adapting your partner business to it, the more successful you are likely to be. To that end, I want to point out a brand new resource that I think will help you understand the compelling future of the cloud and thus help you not only realize how important it is that you begin investing in this potential business transformation, but also it can help you explain why the future of IT is “cloudy” to your customer who may also be struggling with whether or not to adopt this for their business.
It’s The Economics of the Cloud, a Microsoft white paper, which outlines the underlying economics of cloud computing and the implications for the future of IT. This white paper also offers some insight into what IT leaders must consider as they manage the shift in their own organizations. It’s about 20 pages and I really encourage you to read it, although I admit that some of the middle sections are pretty dry, and I think you will come out with an even better understanding of “why cloud” than just relying on the market trends and analyses that you typically see as the future for cloud rationale.
OK, so now you’ve made the commitment to transform your business to take advantage of cloud (or online) services. Now comes the tactical aspect of ““how do I take this to market?”, in other words, what are the specific business things I need to do in the areas or marketing, sales, service delivery, and operations to make my business successful in this new paradigm. Well, this is another place where there’s a tie in to my previous post, AND a great resource I want to call out (again). Rauline and the folks at IPED have helped Microsoft put together a training package for our partners called Business Model Transformation Series which, as I mentioned before, my cohort Woody Walton wrote about a couple of weeks back. And, in fact, I see more of my team has blogged about this more recently as well, so I’m not going to dwell on what it is but rather “why” you should care.
This training was based on interviews and data collected from around 40 partners who’ve “been there, done that”, in other words, this isn’t Microsoft telling you what you ought to do, this is real-world partners, just like you, who are sharing with you what they’ve done and how they’ve made the successful transition to incorporate the cloud into their business model. As Woody points out, they discuss some of the key questions you have around how you “take this to market”, including how you can make money selling cloud/online services, how to effectively market and sell cloud services, what are the deal economics, how do I make my cloud service offerings competitive, and many more. They will give specific examples, and what amounts to best practices, and again, this is coming from partners who have already done this successfully in the real world. Hopefully, you’ve already checked out the link to Woody’s blog where he has links directly to the individual training sessions. You can also access this training series via the Partner Learning Plan Tool, just search for the keyword “transformation”, then select Online Services Business Model Transformation package. In the Package Details page, you can create or modify the plan package to suit your needs and/or email the package details to others who may need the training, as well as share the package via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. The Learning Plan Tool is a great resource for all your training needs — if you’re not already familiar with it, please explore it.
So, at this point, I hope you’ll explore the resources I’ve discussed in this post to gain more strategic as well as tactical insight into how you can “take cloud/online services to market”. And, if you happen to fall into that 30% that the research referenced above who are “waiting for training and education” or “waiting for vendors to lead the way”, well hopefully you will be more ready to commit to investing in cloud computing solutions as a result of this information and begin your transformation today.
To kind of bring this full circle, remember back at the top where I laid the foundation that, according to recent IPED research, more than 30 percent of solution providers have yet to invest in cloud computing solutions? Well, you might find this interesting, and hopefully motivational, as well — Cloud Computing Customers Say Channel Partners Aren’t Prepared — according to a recent survey by research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) of over 200 IT decision makers from companies of various sizes, nearly 2/3 of respondents indicated that the channel partners needed additional training (54%) or were not prepared at all (12%), only 34% said their channel partners are very well prepared to bring them into the cloud. If you’re not one of those in the “well prepared” segment, then hopefully the information in this post will help you.